3 out of 4 stars
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How much do you know about gangs? Are they a big problem where you live? What about gangs within the military? Do you think about the consequences of having a military trained gang member in society?
In his book Gangs and the Military, Carter Smith seeks to answer those questions and more. In an unbiased manner, he hopes to prove that gangs and military trained gang members are a serious problem. He then offers some suggestions on what to do about the problem.
The book starts off with an examination of the history of gangs both in and out of the military. Evidence is then given that there are active gang members in the military in contemporary times. The author then examines measures taken to rectify the gang problem. Finally, Mr. Smith takes a look at the issues that are faced when gang members exit the military and take their knowledge and experience with them.
One of the incidences cited in the book was the murder of two innocent civilians in Fayetteville, NC in December of 1995. Three military men were involved in a white supremacist group and wanted to make a statement. Not being able to find a synagogue, they stumbled across two African Americans in the wrong place at the wrong time. They became the victims in this hapless gang shooting.
The author does a great job at presenting evidence to back up the idea that gangs are a problem in the military. He uses many different resources and cites them accordingly. The notes are located in the back of the book for further study if one is so inclined.
Much of this evidence is in the manner of reports and surveys. While complete, it became a bit redundant after the first few reports. The author gives each report and survey separately. This causes one's eyes to glaze over. It would have been much more striking to the average reader to have this data compiled.
I did, however, enjoy the history Mr. Smith gives of gangs. Although focused in the US, the examination starts off in the 1600s and proceeds forward chronologically. To me, this was the most fascinating part of the book as I am unfamiliar with gangs.
As with the reports, though, this information seems to be repeated unnecessarily. The incident mentioned above taking place in Fayetteville, NC was discussed on page 53, 75 and in the Afterword. It is possible the author did this for emphasis; however, it's done so often as to negate any possible emphasis. If that was the author’s goal, he should do so only sparingly.
The recommendations the author gives to deal with this situation seem practical and possible. I am not involved in the government or military, though. For my part, the thought of any kind of terrorist group (street gang or hate group) having a member that is former military terrifies me. Therefore, I hope the right people see this book and use some of the ideas presented to alleviate this problem.
Overall, I rate Gangs and the Military 3 out of 4 stars. The author presents the information in a straightforward and accessible way. However, this book is for a niche audience, and there is some duplication of information which prevents a perfect score. For those interested in gangs, the military or involved in law enforcement or policy making, this would be a great source of knowledge.
Gangs and the Military
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