Book Reviews     Complete Reviews & Media Highlights     Readers' Responses

Book Reviews

"Chinatown gangsters have long been glamorized on screen for the American imagination. But Bill Lee's Chinese Playground: A Memoir, which exposes the raw underbelly of Chinese American culture, is the real McCoy."

"His scenes dealing with gang warfare are brutal yet fascinating."

"Deftly written... [it] is a well-formed tale of history and survival."


"...offers something that few other volumes on Asian organized crimes and gangs do: a personal, first-hand look at what it is like to grow up in the youth gang subculture. That alone makes it remarkable among recent nonfiction works about the activities of the Chinese underworld, and a worthwhile read..."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"Riveting...the story is told in a refreshingly honest way." --KPIX-TV

"...provides the first insider look into the lethal mix of youthful bravado, cultural maladjustment and turf warfare that culminated in the 1977 shootout at the Golden Dragon restaurant, one of the worst mass killings in San Francisco history."
--San Francisco Examiner

Complete Reviews and Media Highlights of Chinese Playground: A Memoir:

Sunset Magazine Feature -- January, 2001 issue

Seattle Post-Intelligencer -- July 12, 2000

A.Magazine Book Review and Interview -- June/July, 1999 Issue Book Review and Excerpt -- July, 1999 Book Review and Interview: "Gang Life In Chinatown" -- June 16, 1999

San Francisco Chronicle Book Review -- May 2, 1999

San Francisco Chronicle: "Fallout From Gang Life Memoir" -- April 10, 1999

San Francisco Examiner: "Inside Chinatown's Gangs" -- March 9, 1999
(front page feature)

Sing Tao Daily -- March 10, 1999 (translated Chinese version of Examiner article)

Sing Tao Daily -- April 4, 1999 (half-page feature in Chinese)

AsianWeek: "Notes From the Underworld" -- January 28, 1999
(cover story; includes excerpts)

Television Features:

RadioTV, Hong Kong: "History of Chinese Immigrants" -- July, 2012

History Channel's Gangland Series: "Deadly Triangle" -- March, 2008

Biography Channel: "American Gangs" -- August 20, 2005

History Channel presents "Street Gangs: A Secret History"
-- Mar., 2001/Dec., 2002/Sep., 2003/Aug., 2006/Jan., 2008

A&E Network Primetime: "American Gangs" -- February 19, 2002

KRON-TV's Sunday Daybreak (NBC affiliate) -- June 13, 1999

KPIX-TV's Bay Sunday (CBS affiliate; 30-minute feature) -- May 30, 1999

Fox Network's Morning's On 2 -- March 9, 1999

The author and this book have also been mentioned on KPST Channel 66 News, and KTSF Channel 26.

Radio Features:

KCBS -- Sunday, April 11, 1999

KGO -- Monday, April 12, 1999

Readers' Reponses

"It's been a long time since I found a book that I literally could not put down. I just finished reading it, and am stunned at the power of it. It's truly an incredible piece of literature." -- Kent B.

"The book was great. I bought two copies and it was money well spent."
-- Cassandra L.

"Powerful...Enthralling...Real...Educational..." -- Dennis T.

"It will become a contemporary Chinese American classic..."
-- customer review

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