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The Black Hand by Chris Blatchford is a biography about Rene “Boxer” Enriquez, an East Los Angeles native and former Mexican Mafia member. Otherwise known as Le Eme, or “M” in Spanish, the Mexican Mafia is one of the strongest gangs in American history. This gang was established in Los Angeles, including other smaller gangs such as MS-13, and Florencia-13, which are also mentioned in the book. While the Mexican mafia was not started in Mexico, a lot of it stems back to Mexico. This biography describes in depth the life of Boxer from adolescence through the present day. Now that he is out of the gang life, he is retelling his story as a normal citizen, warning others about the risks and helping others learn from his personal mistakes.

This story particularly took place in Boxers hometown but also in different jails and correction facilities around California. Events such as armed robberies occurred in different places throughout Los Angeles, part of which landed him behind bars in the first place. At the early age of 18, Boxer was sent to Soledad Penitentiary in Northern California for 9 years due to a robbery he committed. A few years later, he was transferred to the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, California and then to Folsom Prison. While there, Boxer officially became a “Mafioso” and was inducted into La Eme. Rising through the ranks, Boxer eventually became part of an extensive drug trade between Mexico and America. Along the way, he faced many trials and tribulations, all of which are vividly depicted throughout the book.

One of the main reasons I decided to read this book was due to an internship I held this past summer and the year before. I witnessed many court cases involving gang members and the crimes that they committed, and I was always very intrigued. Not that I ever thought any of the crimes they committed were moral and right, they were interesting nonetheless. I always questioned myself how and why could anyone have such hatred towards another individual to commit a crime such as murder or rape. I also wondered things such as how do gang members still communicate from jail to the streets. I had so many questions that my advisor just recommended that I read this biography. While at first I was skeptical about summer reading, I decided to give this book a shot. Not only was it one of the most gripping and intriguing stories I’ve ever read, but it also answered all of my questions and then some.

Although there were multiple aspects of this book that made the story extremely engaging, the imagery and the way the author describes Boxer’s experiences were the best. Additionally, the story line of how everything started in Boxer’s early gang days through to when he dropped out of the gang life was also another interesting feature. The stories told in the book ranged from parties in Boxer’s garage to gunpoint robberies to jail killings. The action that occurred along the plot line made for never-ending excitement and a book that was difficult to put down. Furthermore, Blatchford’s writing style contributed to an easy read and one that would resemble more of a personal journal than an actual book. The only criticism I could possibly offer is that the images illustrated in the book are fairly graphic. Nonetheless, Boxer’s story and Blatchford’s writing style were a perfect match that created an interesting and informative read.

The Black Hand by Chris Blatchford is a Los Angeles Times bestselling book, and one that I would personally recommend to anyone. Anyone who is remotely curious about crime and gangs particularly in Los Angeles would be very informed after reading this biography. Likewise, anyone interested in a moving story about a troubled gang member and the life people in gangs live would benefit from reading this book. From the second you start reading until the second you end, you find yourself wanting to know more and more about Boxer’s story. Blatchford, who is an award winning investigative reporter and author, truly captures the reader in this biography. After I was finished with the story I still found myself wanting to know more about organized crime and particularly the criminal organization described in the book. I consulted Google and searched “Mexican Mafia Los Angeles” on the Internet and continued to read more articles about current events in the Los Angeles Times. While this topic may not appeal to all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this biography and would recommend it with high regards.




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