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Nasty, Brutish, and Short
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Nasty, Brutish, and Short

The lives of gang members in Canada

By Mark Totten, With Daniel Totten

$24.95 Paperback
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$16.95 Ebook
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An expert takes us inside the dark world of gangs in Canada.

Dr. Mark Totten has spent fifteen years learning all about these gangs and the young men and women who belong to them. He has interviewed over 500 gang members across the country, traced their lives from infancy to adulthood, and explored the roots of their involvement in crime and their reliance on violence.

Nasty, Brutish and Short offers a groundbreaking picture of the reality of gangs in Canada. Much of what Dr. Totten has to say is at odds with popular ideas. His research leads him to believe that breaking through the circumstances that produce young criminals is far more difficult than most people think. For most individuals caught up in gang life, exiting that world is next to impossible -- in fact, the most common way out is an early death from violence or suicide. This book opens the door on a way of life unknown to most Canadians.

Chapter 1: Putting a Human Face on Gangs
Chapter 2: Understanding the Big Picture
Chapter 3: Gang Activity Across Canada
Chapter 4: Women’s Involvement in Gangs
Chapter 5: The Childhood Experiences of Gang Members
Chapter 6: Traumatized Teens, Imploding Families
Chapter 7: Sexual Exploitation, Gender, and Gangs
Chapter 8: The Gang as Work
Chapter 9: Strategies for Preventing Gangs
Chapter 10: Some Final Thoughts

"Totten...has spent the past 15 years studying Canada's gangs in an attempt to take an unprecedented look into the problem...The recently published Nasty, Brutish and Short: The Lives of Gang Members in Canada is the book that resulted from his extensive efforts."

- Jeffrey Simpson Chronicle Herald

The book is exceptionally reader friendly and written in a mostly narrative and descriptive style. The book is punctuated with numerous compelling and at times gut-wrenching, if not haunting, first-hand accounts from the 300-plus interviews that Totten has collected over the past 15 years. Totten deftly combines his strong academic training and over 20 years of experience working with youth at risk in Canada to produce one of the most comprehensive and tour de force accountings of gangs and gang members in Canada. In short, this book should be on the reading list of anyone who is the least bit interested in learning about risk factors in becoming a gang memberfor some young people, the honesty of gang life and culture, what we can/should be doing to help prevent young people from joining gangs, as well as how to assist gang members in exiting gangs.Finally, the author concludes with a frank and arguably irrefutable conclusion about how our conventional criminal justice responses to gangs are both ill informed and misguided.

- John Winterdyp, Dept of Justice Studies, Mount Royal University Youth Voice Journal

Mark Totten interviewed at

- Open Book Ontario

Read Jeffrey Simpson's interview with Mark Totten at

- Halifax Chronicle Herald

DR. MARK TOTTEN's research focuses on gangs, sexual exploitation and trafficking, crime prevention, mental health, child maltreatment and family violence, bullying and harassment, corrections and policing, and gender identity. He has worked on eight major studies in this area during the past fifteen years, in research funded by public agencies like the Department of Justice Canada and the National Crime Prevention Centre. Many of his projects involve partnerships with Aboriginal and ethno-racial communities.

In 2011-2012, he collaborated with groups in Ontario and Western Canada in the development and evaluation of multi-year gang prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies.

Mark Totten is past Director of Research at the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa (1987-2007) and has worked with high-risk children, youth, adults, and families for over thirty years. A well-known expert witness for both Crown and Defence Counsel on gangs and criminal subculture, he has written many books, academic articles, and government reports, including Guys, Gangs and Girlfriend Abuse (2000), When Children Kill: A Social-Psychological Study on Youth Homicide (2002), and Promising Practices for Addressing Youth Involvement in Gangs (2008).

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Publication Details:

Binding: Paperback, 296 pages
Publication Date: 27th March 2012
ISBN: 9781459400382
Format: 9in x 6in

Binding: Electronic book text
Publication Date: 27th March 2012
ISBN: 9781459400399
Format: EPUB

BISAC Code:  SOC004000, SOC051000, TRU003000
Imprint: Lorimer


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