Life Sentence: The Brief and Tragic Career of Baltimore's Deadliest Gang Leader

Category: Book
By (author): Bowden, Mark
Subject:  LAW / Criminal Law / Sentencing
  POLITICAL SCIENCE / American Government / Local
  TRUE CRIME / General
  TRUE CRIME / Organized Crime
Audience: general/trade
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic
Published: April 2023
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 320
Size: 9.02in x 6.34in x 1.16in
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*

In this unprecedented deep dive into inner-city gang life, Mark Bowden takes readers inside a Baltimore gang, offers an in-depth portrait of its notorious leader, and chronicles the 2016 FBI investigation that landed eight gang members in prison

Sandtown is one of the deadliest neighborhoods in the world; it earned Baltimore its nickname Bodymore, Murderland, and was made notorious by David Simon's classic HBO series "The Wire." Drug deals dominate street corners, and ruthless, casual violence abounds.

Montana Barronette grew up in the center of it all. He was the leader of the gang "Trained to Go," or TTG, and when he was finally arrested and sentenced to life in prison, he had been nicknamed "Baltimore's Number One Trigger Puller." Under Tana's reign, TTG dominated Sandtown. After a string of murders are linked to TTG, each with dozens of witnesses too intimidated to testify, three detectives set out to put Tana in prison for life. For them, this was never about drugs: It was about serial murder.

Now an acclaimed journalist who spent his youth in the white suburbs of Baltimore, Mark Bowden returns to the city with exclusive access to the FBI files and unprecedented insight into one of the city's deadliest gangs and its notorious leader. As he traces the rise and fall of TTG, Bowden uses wiretapped drug buys, police interviews, undercover videos, text messages, social media posts, trial transcripts, and his own ongoing conversations with Tana's family and community to create the most in-depth account of an inner-city gang ever written.

With his signature precision and propulsive narrative, Mark Bowden positions Tana- as a boy, a gang leader, a killer, and now a prisoner- in the context of Baltimore and America, illuminating his path for what it really was: a life sentence.

Review Quote*

"Most of the TTG gang members are now serving life sentences, but as Bowden starkly illustrates, neutralizing one criminal enterprise won't solve the great ongoing tragedy of violence in poor, isolated urban Black communities, nor will it fix the devastation fueled by racist policies from the 19th and 20th centuries." -The Washington Post

"A ground level view… The masterful yarn is a riveting true narrative about an FBI investigation that landed eight criminal bosses behind bars in the city profiled in the popular American television crime drama ‘The Wire.'" – Associated Press 

"LifeSentence is a masterpiece, right up there with Black Hawk Down and Guestsof the Ayatollah. It's gripping, it's fast, it's deeply insightful andempathetic, and it's brilliantly and exhaustively reported. People should readit." -Matt Bai, Washington Post contributing columnist and author of Allthe Truth Is Out

"Gripping and revealing. . .  A powerful, nuanceddepiction of gang violence in America that makes a strong case for meaningfulreform beyond policing." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A scorching true-crime narrative. . .  Bowden pulls nopunches in his indictment of the ways in which the richest country in the worldhas allowed Black children for decades to be born into blighted urbanneighborhoods, and saddled them with burdens that they must struggle tosurmount to lead meaningful lives. This account of "young men growing up in aplace where murderous violence has become a way of life" will haunt readerslong after they finish it." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Praise for Mark Bowden:

"A Woodward that outdoes even Woodward." -MalcolmGladwell, New Yorker

"Amazing . . . One of the most intense, visceral readingexperiences imaginable. . . The individual stories are woven together in sucha compelling and expert fashion, the narrative flows so seamlessly, that it'shard to imagine that this is not fiction." -The Philadelphia Inquirer on BlackHawk Down

Biographical Note

MARK BOWDEN is the author of fifteen books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Black Hawk Down. He reported at the Philadelphia Inquirer for twenty years and now writes for the Atlantic and other magazines.