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Sex Money Murder: A Story of Crack, Blood, and Betrayal

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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  588 ratings  ·  61 reviews
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Bronx had one of the highest per capita murder rates in the country. The use of crack cocaine surged, replacing heroin as the high of choice. Drug dealers claimed territory through intimidation and murder, and families found themselves fractured by crime and incarceration. Chronicling the rise and fall of Sex Money Murder, one of the ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by W. W. Norton Company
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Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  588 ratings  ·  61 reviews


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Jonathan Green
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Because a writer draws satisfaction from his labors.
Brandon Forsyth
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book reads like a mashup of David Simon's HOMICIDE and Jill Leovy's GHETTOSIDE, but with even greater compassion for young men who turn to crime out of desperation, greed, or simply because it's what they know how to do. Highly recommended.
Theo Emery
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you think you know the story of crack, gangs and violence in New York City in the 1980s and '90s, think again and read Sex Money Murder, a powerful chronicle of the rise and fall of one of the most violent modern gangs in New York. Richly detailed and meticulously documented, SMM reflects years of research and dogged reporting from author Jonathan Green, a seasoned journalist with an eye and an ear for taut storytelling. I was one of Green's readers for the book, and watched with excitement a ...more
Hank Cochrane
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is fantastic. Brilliant, character driven portrait of the crack epidemic and the gangs that animated the streets in parts of NYC in the late '80's and nineties. Long overdue piece of history.
Larry
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent book. The rise of a vicious gang in the Bronx in the dawning of the Crack epidemic. The inside story from the gangsters, detectives and prosecutors. It reads like a deadly, sprawling saga and that is exactly what it all was. On the streets, in jail and in prison. Gangsters turning "rat" on their gang brothers. Some of the earliest rap superstars and big models of the time are on the periphery. I absolutely loved it. I would have happily read another 400 pages. 5 years in th ...more
Jamie
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
The story was good, but I found myself wanting more depth. I never felt as if I got to know the gang members. I learned of their crimes and the details around them, but I wanted more depth, more introspection from someone. After a while, it just started to feel like a dry recitation of facts, even if the facts are juicy.
Molly
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a compelling read. Part social history, part personal history of some of the members of the Sex Money Murder gang on the Bronx. Perhaps one of the most shocking points is just how young these boys are and why they did what they did.
Adam Fenn
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
HBO's most overrated show The Wire was best when showing the intricacies to the management and development of crack dealers in the towers. $MM follows youth in the Bronx back in the 90's who followed the same business model of The Wire's Baltimore counterparts. What makes the book so much greater than the wire is that 1/4 of the story isn't about fat chuds at the shipping yard or Littlefinger trying to progress into a prominent government role.

$MM showcases the titular gang from when they were
...more
Melissa LeDoux
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The review in the NYTs for SMM describes Jonathan Green’s latest work best. Green successfully followed all the players in this period of history on both sides of the law in a way that, while completely unbiased, caused me to empathize and attach to all of their lives. This story is unbelievable, literally unbelievable, so often I had to remind myself that this was sadly all true. As much as I enjoyed SMM, it also taught me many aspects of our urban infrastructures-the “how” and “why “ behind th ...more
Joe Starnes
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one hell of a true story, an example of nonfiction at its purest and very best. The level of reporting that went into this is exceptional, far beyond what you'll find in most any other book. The skillful way Green weaves the narrative together reveals an important American story that resonated with me long after I finished the final page.
Zachary Masino
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really good book. Well written and captivating. Found it fascinating to see the inner working of a gang and some of the things they experienced. The betrayal and young age of all the people was staggering. A whole different world that I can't imagine growing up in.
Alex
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Last week I was browsing through my usual sections at Barnes looking for something new to read on my list. This book wasn't even on my radar until I passed by it. It looked right up my alley from the cover, so I opened it up and read the first page. I knew it was a must have.

If you're interested in books about gangs, crimes, drugs, murder, basically all the underworld elements America embraces through gangster rap music, this is for you. It even features brief encounters with Puffy at the early
...more
Pam Kelley
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional piece of reporting about a dark period of history in the Bronx.
Jack Goodstein
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Gangs and drugs in the Bronx--fascinating read.
John Treanor
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book.
Amanda Stoks
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was so good. It reminded me a lot of Homicide by David Simon, but without the blatant racism. It's a good look into why young boys end up in the situations that they do and how their lives are forever affected because of those choices. Super good and can't recommend highly enough.
Jason Speck
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ross Cumming
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jonathan Green tells the story of the rise and ultimate fall of Sex Money Murder, which is the name of a Bronx gang which operated in the Soundview projects during the late eighties and early nineties. He does this by telling the stories of the main individuals involved on both sides of the law. SMM dealt crack cocaine on their own turf which they defended with murderous force but they also expanded out with NYC and into other cities where they knew they would meet little resistance from the loc ...more
Andrew Lam
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book about SMM, a group I knew nothing about but grew fascinated with. At the end of the book you realize the enormous dedication Green has invested to bring this story to light – not just in years of time but also in putting himself personally at risk by venturing into the projects and meeting with volatile individuals who remain in and out of difficulties with the law. We are the beneficiaries of his years of dedication. This book helped me better understand the difficult and ...more
Maxwell
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well researched non-fiction story about the rise of one of the most violent gangs in the Bronx housing projects. Truly amazing when you consider that the main players were 10 or 11 years old when they started dealing crack and shooting people eventually becoming an organization focused on "Sex, Money, and Murder". SMM gradually evolved into a division of the Bloods national organization as the members needed protection in prison. At one point the dozen or so SMM members were making $40k to $50k ...more
Becky Loader
Nov 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I remember following the news about the situation in the Bronx in the 1980's. Heroin was out, and a new drug, crack, was making a huge impact on life and crime. The author follows three paths: the kids growing up in the projects, a police officer new to the force, and a lawyer who works for the FBI. The violence is intense and upsetting, but I don't doubt its authenticity. The kids grow up hard and fast, and drugs are the temptation around to make lots of money--fast.

Not for those with a queasy
...more
Michael Bagley
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Incredible reporting and storytelling by the author, Jonathan Green. The book drops you into the Bronx neighborhood of Soundview introducing you to a group of teenagers that would go on to create the ultra violent Sex Money Murder gang. Green also offers inside details on the law enforcement side where a shift in prosecution strategy was needed to combat the rising murder rate in NYC.

I am thankful to have been introduced to this book by ESPN’s Ryen Russillo. On his podcast, Russillo mentioned i
...more
Joe Loncarich
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Plenty of fascinating stories about the gang life of Sex Money Murder during the 80s and 90s in New York, yet somehow, despite all of those crazy stories, nothing compares to Tyson Beckford, when getting questioned by police about his involvement with the gang, replied that all he does "is f*** Tyra Banks and lift weights." This is now the only way I will respond if ever a part of a police investigation.
Joe Cavanaugh
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Just an awesome book. It's kind of like the non-fiction version of the wire. It's focus is fairly narrow, but you really get an insight into what it was like being a broncs cop or a gang member in the 90's.
Don
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great read about the Sex Money Murder gang, one of the most murderous, brutal Bronx gangs of the 80's and 90's. Through the eyes of gang members and the police who pursued them we get a glimpse of a grim, tough life on New York City streets and ultimately a look at an America leaving so many behind. If you're a fan of 'The Wire' and liked David Simon's books this is a must read.
Derek
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
THE WIRE. In real life. This is a perfect piece of nonfiction. Gang members vs police vs the judicial system. I have no idea how the author managed to gain such trust as to be able to tell this story, with its admitted multiple murders. Brilliant.
Camlogry
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In a word. Gripping. Green does a fantastic job of weaving different stories amongst a slew of characters on both sides of the drug wars. Excellent work.
Dustin
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This sh*t will f*ck up your day but you should read it.
NostrumWorks
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, 2019
An incredibly fascinating story behind a gang that I never heard of. A fantastic piece of entertaining history into this kind of life.
Robert Rainville
Absolutely recommend. The Bronx in the late 90s was an absolute WAR ZONE 😱
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Jonathan Green is an award-winning author and investigative journalist specializing in narrative non-fiction. His latest book, Sex Money Murder: A Story of Crack, Blood and Betrayal tells the story of the infamous Bronx gang through inside access to gangsters and the federal agents, police officers and prosecutors who took them down.

His first book, Murder in the High Himalaya, won the coveted Ban
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“Crack was sweeping through Soundview and rewriting the social contract by the day.” 0 likes
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