LEON BING: In The Brutal World of L.A.'s Toughest Gangs

LEON BING spent four years with the Crips and the Bloods to find out why thousands of American teenagers are waging war on one another in the desolate heart of the City of Dreams

Q. You live in a comfortable part of Pasadena. You grew up wealthy, were once a very successful fashion model. What made you go into the projects of South Central Los Angeles and write about the Bloods and the Crips?

A. I'd heard a lot about the gangs and the drive-by shootings. But I'd never read anything about these guys as people. There are well over 100,000 of these kids in L.A. These are American kids! They're drifting into gangs at eight or nine, some becoming killers by the time they're 12. I wondered, What do they think? What makes them...