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The Bling Ring: How a Band of Celebrity-Obsessed Teenagers Shocked Hollywood [Paperback]

Nancy Jo Sales
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

May 13 2013

The Bling Ring by Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales is an in-depth expose of a band of beautiful, privileged teenagers who were caught breaking into celebrity homes and stealing millions of dollars worth of valuables.

With a list of victims that reads like a "Who's Who" of young Hollywood, including Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Paris Hilton, and Rachel Bilson, The Bling Ring is the stuff of writers' imaginations—with one exception—it's a true story.

The media asked: Why would a group of kids who already had designer clothes, money, cars, and status take such risks? Award-winning journalist Nancy Jo Sales found the answer: They did it because they could. And because it was easy.

The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World is a shocking look at the seedy world of the real young Hollywood.


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Review

'For a satire on America's modern day celebrity culture, The Bling Ring is hard to beat.' The Guardian 'With its depth of insight into extremes of shallowness, and its human scale, reads like a minor classic of our times.' The Observer 'Jaw-dropping' **** Star --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

The true story that inspired the Sofia Coppola film

Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson: robbed. More than $3 million in stolen clothing, jewelry, shoes, and handbags reported missing. Who is behind one of the most brazen string of crimes in recent Hollywood history? Meet the Bling Ring: a band of club-hopping teenagers from the Valley with everything to lose.

Over the course of a year, the members of the now infamous Bling Ring allegedly burglarized some of the biggest names in young Hollywood. Driven by celebrity worship, vanity, and the desire to look and dress like the rich and famous, these seven teenagers made headlines for using Google maps, Facebook, and TMZ to track the comings and goings of their targets. Many of the houses were unlocked. Alarms disabled. A "perfect" crime— celebrities already had so much, why shouldn't the Bling Ring take their share?

As the unprecedented case unfolded in the news, the world asked: How did our obsession with celebrities get so out of hand? Why would a group of teens who already had so much, take such a risk?

Acclaimed Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales found the answer: they did it because each stolen T-shirt or watch brought them closer to living the Hollywood dream . . . and because it was terrifyingly easy. For the Bling Ring the motivation was something deeper than money—they were compelled by a compulsion to be famous. Gaining unprecedented access to the group of teens, Sales traces the crimes minute by minute and details the key players' stories in a shocking look at the seedy, and troubling, world of the real young Hollywood.


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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, but confusing at times Aug. 2 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a good light read, but I found it confusing at times with all the players in the game. The best part of the book was the explanation as to how our society led these teenagers to do what they did.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  93 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rather straight forward, but perhaps a bit dense. May 22 2013
By A. Grimes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered this book as, like the other reviewer, I've been fascinated by this case for a while. I, too, watched the Lifetime movie, read the Nancy Jo Sales article in "Vanity Fair," and watched "Pretty Wild" (the reality series focusing on one, possibly two, members of the "Bling Ring") in addition to having followed news of Sofia Coppola's upcoming film very closely. I read this book yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. Several things are taken from the Vanity Fair article, making this feel at times like an elaboration on such, which is what I had expected upon seeing this book was being released.

In the book, there are additional facts from police reports and references to things discovered by TMZ. Unfortunately, that means there is not a lot that's new here for people who followed this case as closely as I have. That said, the interviews with some of the members are worth the price of the book, in addition to a few things second-in-command Nick Prugo told to police about the involvement of other individuals not charged with any crimes that I had not read elsewhere, such as the possible involvement of "Pretty Wild" star Tess Taylor.

The only caution I have to give in regards to this book is that Sales spends a fair amount of time referencing sociological studies about fame & going on small tangents comparing mastermind Rachel Lee & Prugo to people like Bonnie & Clyde, using historical evidence to support her thought process. This could be a bit dense for some readers, who might expect more sensationalism from such a tabloid-friendly case. It's worthy information and it certainly helps with context, but it does make the book a bit deeper than the case appears to be from a cursory look.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good not Great June 13 2013
By MK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Extended version of the author's interesting article for Vanity Fair. Book is less successful when the author tries to give deeper meaning to the specifics of this story. Although I have no doubt they exist, the author's attempts to explain them come off as contrived and reaching. Nevertheless an interesting quick read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Save your time, watch the movie! Sept. 30 2013
By Danielle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Living so close to Hollywood, I have always been fascinated with celebrities, so it's no wonder I was intrigued to read the story of the group aptly named "The Bling Ring" in Nancy Jo Sales book of the same title. If you don't know the story, the bling ring refers to the group of well-to-do Angelino teenagers who broke into a variety of celebrity homes mainly because of their obsession with fame. Originally an article in Vanity Fair magazine, Sales expanded her story upon the production of Sofia Coppola's film about the group, and this book is the product.

I was let down to learn that this book is written like a news article instead of in novel form. The first quarter of the book was intriguing enough because readers learn the mindset of the teenagers involved and how easy it was for them to steal from some of the most rich and famous names in entertainment. But very quickly it got to the point where there was just too much repetitive discussion of too little information and the voice of the author became so condescending and judgmental that I could barely stomach to finish this book.

Nancy Jo Sales clearly (and seemingly blindly) puts one of the bling ring's ringleaders, Nick Prugo, on a sympathetic pedestal throughout the book, which is suspicious given that Prugo is the only character to openly discuss incriminating details regarding the actions of his group and legal case surrounding them. Whether Nick Prugo is telling the truth or not is not my place to say, but it seems Sales barely questions the legitimacy of anything Prugo tells her and instead paints him as a poor, lost teenager.

On the other side of the coin, Sales paints the girls involved, namely Rachel Lee and Alexis Neiers as air headed, vapid villains even though Prugo is just as guilty of involvement. Instead of exploring the root causes of their actions and the societal implications of these teenagers, Sales instead hammers judgement so strongly that it was uncomfortable to read. Initially I admit it was entertaining to read the character of Alexis Neiers that Sales painted, but eventually it was just pathetic because it was so harshly biased. I wish instead of berating the poor girl, Sales might explore her actions on a psychological plane. Clearly all of the kids involved in this suffer from some type of psychological disconnect from reality and rather than mocking them, it seems more fruitful that we look into the how, why, and what we can do to eliminate such actions in society and find a way to help them.

Ultimately this book should have remained an article where a much more limited amount of judgement and criticism would be contained in short form. Furthermore, I didn't need history lessons on fashion, reality tv, or Bonnie and Clyde, among other horribly boring tangents Sales decides we care to hear her wax on and on about.

I find it awfully ironic that The Bling Ring is ultimately a criticism of teenagers who are trying to obtain fame and fortune by leeching onto celebrities when the book is in actuality Sales' attempt at leeching onto Sofia Coppola's film to gain more notoriety. The sad thing is that neither the bling ring members themselves nor Nancy Jo Sales came out a winner and I would have appreciated learning about this story from a simple article rather than a whole book.

Bottom Line: I don't think I've ever said this before, but save your time and just watch the movie.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Close To Home Sept. 13 2013
By LG - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It was my turn to select a book for our book club to read/discuss. I chose Nancy Jo Sales's book "Bling Ring" because it hit close to home--literally. The criminal teens lived in surrounding neighborhoods and attended local schools. Initially, that is what drew me to the book. However, the way Nancy Jo wrote it helped us understand that this was not just a story about a few local teens gone bad. She connected the dots to illustrate her point that these kids are somewhat a product of a families gone bad and society gone bad. I don't think Nancy Jo excuses the teens from their actions by doing so, but she helps us to understand the role that dysfunctional families, drugs, reality TV, social media, and the music of the period played in the lives of the teens during that time. By writing the book in that way, Nancy Jo prompts us to think about what we can and should do, as parents and as members of society, to help our children and others avoid pitfalls that exist.

I hope Sofia Coppola is right about this just being a bad period of time that will soon be behind us. I appreciate Nancy Jo's efforts to help make that happen by writing this book in the way she did. It was not only entertaining, but came with a message. The book club members loved the book and the discussion it prompted.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "They weren't as rich as other people in Calabasas, or their victims either. Which made them wannabes." June 30 2013
By Amelia Gremelspacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The celebrity culture has been decried on many fronts, often in the same publications that detail the latest story of the "it" girl of the moment. "51% of 18-25 year olds said their most or second most important life goal- after becoming rich-was becoming famous. With one per cent of the population controlling 40% of the wealth, the new and ingenious ways to spend money have sparked wistful envy in the rest of us. Adults often leverage themselves into debt in an effort to copy the lifestyle and appearance.

The children of the almost wealthy believe that fame and wealth are their birthrights. Reality TV has told them so. Teen age billionaires and magazine covers have proved it to be true. The media has made them the focus of their efforts. So a band of four, more or less, decided to walk into famous homes and take the trappings. Those robbed felt invaded , and so they were. Their possessions were used to make a facade to transform the thief into the rich and famous. After all, one of the original targets, Paris Hilton, was in fact famous for being famous and the release of a well timed social media sex tape.

These children's entitlement extended to their flaunting their new clothing online, and posing in imitation of their heroes. They stole money and inhabited the same clubs. And the media responded by giving them shows and featuring the Bling Ring on magazine covers. Now a movie chronicles the phenomena. The author does an erudite and extensive case for his theories. He has done his homework and cites the research. He manages to do this within a fascinating and flowing narrative. Some of his sentences, like those cited, are awkward or grammar free, but this technique rather helps the theme along. Of course there is the question, now what?
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