Redemption is the auto biographic life story of the original leader of the notorious “CRIPS” gang, Stanley Tookie Williams. The book spans life from child hood, the struggles of a young knowledge hungry boy, all the way to death row in America’s most well known prison “San Quentin”. We learn of the violence, drug abuse, sex and crimes that walk hand in hand with living as a “gangbanger”. Stanley Tookie Williams vividly walks and talks us through his dramatic life, and tells his story with horrifying and intricate detail. This book had me shocked, it made me feel sadness and sorrow, some parts made me laugh and some had me in awe. Stanley Williams created the Crips to protect themselves from other gangs and led the West side chapter of the gang. Tookie tells us of his hunger for violence and respect as a youth, all the way up to the point where he wrote nine anti gang books and was nominated four times for the Noble Peace Prize for his work whilst in prison.
I really don’t want to delve too far into the book for the purpose of this review, otherwise I will be writing all night long. Although this man’s life, which unfortunately ended in 2005 when he was led into the death chamber and took a staggering twenty minutes to pass away, is a certain passion of mine I really want to talk about the language and structure of the book. Once Williams was convicted of murder and sent to spend the rest of his days on Death Row he sought to educate and find himself. He found peace and realised that life as a “Gangbanger” was no life at all, and set himself the mission of trying to save as many young men from the detrimental and hazardous lifestyle he once recruited for and led.
Redemption takes us from Stanley’s days of youth from New Orleans all the way to death row in California. He describes with colourful passion how his mother failed in her attempts at discipline, his rise to lead the notorious Crips, his addiction to body building and drugs. Tookie discusses how he sought to rid the streets of Pimps and drug dealers and other criminals using extreme violence. He delves into the self hate he often struggled with and writes about the characters that surrounded him throughout his life.