Review Î The Snakehead An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream

  • Hardcover
  • 432
  • The Snakehead An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream
  • Patrick Radden Keefe
  • English
  • 08 April 2018
  • 9780385521307

10 thoughts on “The Snakehead An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream

  1. says:

    According to the author a snakehead is someone who charges a huge amount of money to take people out of China and into other countries This book focuses on one of these people Sister Ping who came to the US legally and then proceeded to cash in on every opportunity she could including smuggling human beings into the country for millions in profit It was the wreck of the ship Golden Venture near Rockaway NY in 1993 in which several people died that captured the attention of the Federal Government and set several officials on the trail of Sister Ping But that's not the whole story hereit's also a look at the shifting policies of the Feds on legal and illegal immigration throughout our country's history as well as an examination of why law enforcement often has trouble getting a handle on this very big problem Misinformation lack of funding a staggering amount of asylum reuests and the uestion of who will receive asylum and who will be deported and often corruption on the part of some INS now ICE agents are all factors that the author examines in trying to understand why this woman was able to elude capture for nearly a decade; not to mention the closing of ranks within the Chinese communities in the US around someone they considered almost a saintThe story of the Golden Venture is the focal point for examining wider and pertinent issues and while the author examines the impact of human smuggling and illegal immigrants in this country he also makes very clear that many people trying to get their chance at the American dream are willing to take the risks involved with illegal smuggling operations Also he makes the point when the Feds actually manage to capture someone like Sister Ping there are other people waiting in the wingsOverall this was a good read It seemed to go on a bit and probably could have been somewhat condensed but other than that I liked it People on both sides of the issue of illegal immigration will want to read this book

  2. says:

    The Snake Head by Patrick Radden KeefeThis history of the Chinese smuggling trade into the United States was penned in 2009 While not as popular as his 2019 blockbuster Say Nothing about the violence in Northern Ireland Snake Head is a fascinating read This history follows Cheng Chui Ping a Chinese immigrant to NYC as she bankrolled and worked with the Fuk Ching gang to smuggle thousands of Fujianese into NYC during the 1980’s and 1990’s Her nickname is Sister Ping and she is revered in Chinatown and has become uite wealthyThe story begins in 1993 with a shipwreck off the coast of Long Island where several Chinese immigrants die and one of the survivors who swims the currents to the safety of the beach mentions to Police that Sister Ping was the head of the smuggling operation or the Snake Head The name comes from the resemblance between an illegal immigrant wiggling through fence wires to a snake This shipwreck incident draws the attention of the Immigration and Nationalization Service INS and they begin an investigation Over several years the government and prosecutors put together a picture of the extent of the smuggling operation that had been in place since the early 1980’s They get a ruthless but key gang leader to name names to avoid prison Authorities were amazed with the lack of accountability for the crimes on the part of the ringleaders The ringleaders underestimated the outrage of prosecutors and the judicial system There is a good deal of history going back to Chinese immigration of the 19th century In the 1960’s there were fewer than 20000 Chinese immigrants in NYC but by 1990 there were than a uarter million Many had crossed the border with Mexico Canada but 50% of immigrants had come through JFK and Sister Ping told them what to say to immigration agents knowing if the clients said they lost their passport then there was no space to detain them There were several examples in the book of smuggling operations that became tragic including one incident along a common Chinese smuggling route near Niagara Falls in upstate New York It ended with bodies at the bottom of Niagara Falls 4 stars Very solid story in a narrative format And an interesting bit of American history

  3. says:

    All of the elements of a thriller are here murder corruption double crosses huge sums of cash intimidation among others but it really doesn’t read that way Instead it’s of a sweeping view of the snakehead trade between Fujian Province China and Chinatown in Manhattan In particular we learn about a small handful of major players in the late 80s and early 90sThe author writes extremely well and uite similar to Sebastian Junger has an informatively digressive style He never gets too far into the details always giving enough information on the side before returning to the main story The people we meet along the way don’t come with excessive baggage or angel’s wings we’re left to make our own judgmentsI’m very surprised I hadn’t heard anything about this book before reading it If I hadn’t stumbled on it in my library’s online inventory I would have never known it existed It deserves a wide audience and would make a great miniseries

  4. says:

    Snakehead is a term for people who bring foreigners into a country illegally outside of immigration laws Mostly through the book the storyline follows a particularly successful snakehead Sister Ping The book details Sister Ping and other snakeheads smuggling Chinese citizens to the US as well as their plentiful helpers from many different countries For human smuggling you could say it takes a village Law enforcement in the US is also examined here with profiles of a few of the people that took charge of investigations and prosecutions Also included are many different examples of people entering the country with the help of snakeheads The personal stories of so many involved was well done I most appreciated the descriptions of how the snakeheads figured out how the immigration control system was changing and changed their tactics to keep a step ahead of the law For instance for a few years a sure way to enter the US was to fly on a fake passport aided by bribed airport personnel in a foreign country then flush the passport in the arrival airport which was usually JFK When that procedure was shut down the snakeheads just looked for new ways and always found them Sister Ping and the others were uite enterprising And when caught by law enforcement they were generally lightly punished Overall an interesting take on “true crime” and a sorry perspective on the holes in the US immigration law enforcement This compares well to many “pop business” business strategy books I’ve read focusing on pivoting your operations when your market or environment changes and the book may appeal to fans of those kinds of books

  5. says:

    Patrick Radden Keefe has uickly become one of my favorite non fiction writers I came to this book after reading his latest “Say Anything” and I am gobsmacked that not only isare the storystories in “Snakehead” true but happened where I live— albeit before my time here I highly recommend this book and his other work— including his New Yorker writings Radden Keefe painstakingly investigates and researches his books for years and it makes the wait to read his work worth it He is an incredible writer and investigates material that is utterly fascinating I can’t wait to read his next book A

  6. says:

    Starts as a true crime story June 6 1993 On Rockaway beach New York about 250 Chinese wash ashore A few strong swimmers have dry clothes in a plastic bag taped to their legs get dressed and walk away Eventually 10 bodies are counted Half the reminder are moved to a prison in York Pennsylvania The immigrants moved have asylum cases and need legal representation Page 227Craig Trebilcock a young litigator was asked to do a favor and represent some of the Chinese Craig was previously an army lawyer in Germany just before the wall came down After the wall came down he noticed the West Germans were gregarious relaxed and generally optimistic The East Germans seemed to just shuffle along eyes in their shoe tips always a little fearful of what the future held in store Not a political person the faces of the East Germans had — that look — instilled in him an abiding conviction about the oppressive toll that a Communist system could have on the human spirit And four years later as he sat facing Pin Lin in the York County Prison he recognized that look again Page 310 In China a human life isn’t worth ten pennies Ten thousand people come and 100 die? Bad luck If they make it their families get rich Their villages get richPage 188 With 15 of the worlds population some 900 million of whom are peasants China has a way of dousing any humanitarian assumptions with a colder demographic reality There is a famous story about Deng Xiaopings visit in Jan 1979 when Jimmy Carter scolded him about China’s restrictions on the “freedom of departure” — the right to emigration—and suggested that people should be permitted to leave China Deng fixed Carter and said “Why certainly President Carter How many million would you like?Interesting explanations on international banking without banks taking advantage the loopholes in international shippingAnd it’s all true

  7. says:

    The Snakehead provides a thorough and well researched look at both sides of the immigration fence Keefe does a very good job of explaining the political and social complexities that lie behind American immigration policy Keefe also shows the constancy of demand for human smuggling and the difficulty of combating such smuggling in a modern and increasingly globalized economy Keefe asserts human smuggling exists in a nebulous territory between illegality and socially acceptable behavior and the book reads accordingly Much of the book is spent sussing out the complexities of US immigration policies which appear to be based on emotional reactions to individual events than on any sort of coherent or consistent vision Because of this many of the characters Keefe describes become secondary just a way of connecting the dots of the overall pictureSo if you're looking for an interesting book about a complicated and salient issue this is for your; if you're looking for a righteous true crime book go elsewhere

  8. says:

    Truly fascinating Keefe did an awesome amount of research and organized the overlapping stories on different continents so that the pacing was right Epic in scope and mouth dropping in detail these interlocked stories touch so many lives and so many parts of the world it must have been difficult to know where to begin The characterizations are rich however and Keefe gives us a human scaled drama What struck me at the end was how persons of every ethnicity political stripe and religious persuasion could find justification in these stories for holding a particular view about immmigration Let it also be said that people who usually react one way on immigration turned 180 degrees when it came to a boatload of Fujian refugees dumped on Rockaway beach Political arch enemies joined hands to save these folks most of whom undoubtedly had absolutely no clue why anyone was trying to help them Law sy I'd like to see a film made of this

  9. says:

    A huge book that spans a massive network it helped me comprehend what we talk about when we talk about migration not as much in the human sense but in the gears that grind it along and churn billions of dollars out of it along the way He is so intimate with the subject matter and without knowing any Chinese? that it makes sense of it all and is still a page turner A reminder also of how different the dialogue around immigration was even 10 years ago when this book was published—in a lot of ways the post 911 immigration world in the US shares in common with the pre 911 immigration world than with now The alliance of The Golden Vision advocacy group just wouldn’t happen nowAnd so ends my summer of non fiction

  10. says:

    At a time when illegal immigration again tops the US news this book is a timely detailed and fascinating behind the scenes look at the world of human trafficking specifically the smuggling of illegal immigrants from China into the USA In exuisite detail the author traces the smuggling route from the south China coast to its rugged southwest into the jungles of Burma and Thailand then to Kenya and finally the US east coast and Manhattan Chinatown from the viewpoints of those fleeing China those managing the operation and the law enforcement officers who struggled to fit all the pieces togetherIt's an impressive feat of research considering the types of unsavory and elusive characters the author managed to interview Speaking of characters most of the actors in the story are masterfully presented neither as villains nor heroes but as deeply rendered human beingsall except for central character Sister Ping She was apparently such a master at hiding in plain sight that her enigmatic ualities come across that way there isn't much personality to showI liked this book very much Though it covers events from twenty years ago I'm sure that the exact same human trafficking business model is still going on today from Latin America to the North African coast

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Patrick Radden Keefe Ù 8 Summary

The Snakehead An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream

The criminal network and home in on its unusual mastermindTHE SNAKEHEAD is a panoramic tale of international intrigue and a dramatic portrait of the underground economy in which America’s twelve million illegal immigrants live Based on hundreds of interviews Patrick Radden Keefe’s sweeping narrative tells the story not only of Sister Ping but of the gangland gunslingers who worked for her the immigration and law enforcement officials who pursued her and the generation of penniless immigrants who risked death and braved a 17000 mile odyssey so that they could realize their own version of the American dream The Snakehead offers an intimate tour of life on the mean streets of Chinatown a vivid blueprint of organized crime in an age of globalization and a masterful exploration of the ways in which illegal immigration affects us allwwwdoubledaycom Truly fasci

Read & download ¼ eBook, ePUB or Kindle PDF Ù Patrick Radden Keefe

Ned an estimated 40 million was smuggling people As a “snakehead” she built a complex and often vicious global conglomerate relying heavily on familial ties and employing one of Chinatown's most violent gangs to protect her power and profits Like an underworld CEO Sister Ping created an intricate smuggling network that stretched from Fujian Province to Hong Kong to Burma to Thailand to Kenya to Guatemala to Mexico Her ingenuity and drive were awe inspiring both to the Chinatown community where she was revered as a homegrown Don Corleone and to the law enforcement officials who could never uite catch her Indeed Sister Ping’s empire only came to light in 1993 when the Golden Venture a ship loaded with 300 undocumented immigrants ran aground off a ueens beach It took New York’s fabled “Jade Suad” and the FBI nearly ten years to untangle Starts as a

Download The Snakehead An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream

A mesmerizing narrative about the rise and fall of an unlikely international crime bossIn the 1980s a wave of Chinese from Fujian province began arriving in America Like other immigrant groups before them they showed up with little money but with an intense work ethic and an unshakeable belief in the promise of the United States Many of them lived in a world outside the law working in a shadow economy overseen by the ruthless gangs that ruled the narrow streets of New York’s ChinatownThe figure who came to dominate this Chinese underworld was a middle aged grandmother known as Sister Ping Her path to the American dream began with an unusual business run out of a tiny noodle store on Hester Street From her perch above the shop Sister Ping ran a full service underground bank for illegal Chinese immigrants But her real business a business that ear The Snake H

About the Author: Patrick Radden Keefe

Patrick Radden An Epic Kindle Ô Keefe is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of The Snakehead and Chatter His work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine Slate New York and The New York Review of Books He received the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing for his story A Loaded Gun was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Reporting in and and is also t.