Vampires, dragons, and Egyptian Kings: Youth gangs in postwar New York

TitleVampires, dragons, and Egyptian Kings: Youth gangs in postwar New York
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsMyers, T
ISBN Number0703-0428
KeywordsBook reviews, Canada, Crime, History, Juvenile gangs

In the context of postwar New York, poor Puerto Rican, African-and European-American adolescent males had restricted means of creating a masculine identity. It is here that illustrates the agency of impoverished adolescent boys. As products of mid-twentieth-century economic and social conditions that closed off legitimate avenues for manhood, this generation of adolescents sought out gangs as a way to forge a masculine identity and gain "power, prestige and female adulation." (107) Using gang members’ autobiographies, interviews with former members, and gang workers’ notes, Schneider is able to explore the central role that masculinity played in these gangs. Schneider is undoubtedly correct in asserting the importance of masculinity; however, as an analytical tool masculinity here is under-utilized, leaving the impression that masculinity is simply an explanation for and description of young men acting tough. As an explanation for rape and murder, masculinity is unsatisfactory. Schneider might have shown us how masculinity, like other identities, is historically specific and relational. We also need to know more about the girls associated with gangs; Schneider might have found Anne Campbell’s The Girls in the Gang especially helpful.