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Gangs of London [Paperback]

Brian McDonald
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

11 Nov 2010
Decades before the Krays, London was plagued by gang warfare as vicious and terrifying as anything that was to come. Territorial tribes fought pitched battles for honour and pride. As the Bethnal Green Boys hunted Hackney's Broadway Boys, Clerkenwell fought Somers Town, the Red Hands haunted Deptford and the Silver Hatchets terrorised Islington. The first ever history of these intriguing street mobs is a riveting journey through the violent underbelly of one of the world's great cities.

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Gangs of London + Gangs of Birmingham, The + Peaky Blinders [DVD]
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Product details

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: MILO BOOKS (11 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903854911
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903854914
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Lifts the lid on London gangs of the last two centuries' --THE WEEKLY NEWS

'Lays bare the truth behind the capital's underworld far before the Krays and the Richardsons became well known' --THE WHARF

'Incredible real-life tales' --SOUTHWARK NEWS

'Lays bare the truth behind the capital's underworld far before the Krays and the Richardsons became well-known' --THE WHARF, January 13, 2011

'Incredible real-life tales' --SOUTHWARK NEWS, January 13, 2011

'Lifts the lid on London gangs of the last two centuries' --THE WEEKLY NEWS, February 12, 2011

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good information, poor writing style 11 Feb 2011
I purchased Gangs of London because of a story about female gangs in Victorian England published in the Guardian newspaper. It was a well written article that grabbed the attention and compared today's social context with that of the Victorian era. It quoted this book as the main source. However, having now read the book, I realise that the journalist had only used a few of the facts and added a lots of other research. They had also a much better writing style.
The main problem with the book is that there is very little social context or other background. The biographies of the various villains and gangs are sketchy and jump from one to the next without any real narrative to hold the story together. There are characters mentioned in passing that sound interesting and influential, but are skipped over.
There is enough information in the book to inspire further research into what is a fascinating aspect of England's history. It's just a shame that it's written in a rather amatuerish and unengaging style.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gangs of London 21 Feb 2011
By Brian
This is an interesting read with lots of information on who the gangs were (many names to come to term with!) but I was hoping that there to be more details of their exploits.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History of London's forgotten gangs 13 Feb 2011
Deeply researched history depicting London's gangs from the nineteenth century to the advent of the Richardson and Kray gangs. The Forty Elephants gang of all-female shoplifters and Elephant and Castle Boys are featured along with the Titanic gang from Hoxton, gangs from Clerkenwell, Camden Town, King's Cross, Bethnal Green and other London locations have their histories revealed. Leading gangsters that are briefly mentioned in other books are traced to their roots - Monkey Benneworth, Dodger Mullins, George Sage, Freddie Gilbert and the Sabini and McDonald families have their origins revealed. This is history that has been largely overlooked. It dispels many myths and is essential reading for everyone interested in London's criminal enterprise.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history 27 Feb 2014
One of the best books on the London underworld. A real change from the usual Kray stuff. The author reveals the history of gangs like the Sabini, Elephant and Castle, the all-female Forty Thieves, Camden Town, Finsbury, Bethnal Green and many, many more. Meticulously researched, not just bits taken from other books. McDonald takes the trouble to correct other author's errors. Some reviewers have said it is written in an amateurish way, but I found it clear and easy to follow. It would not win a Booker prize, but the author has a story to tell and has obviously resisted the use of a ghost writer. I have read better written books that say very little and I am happy to sacrifice a little in style for well researched material. For those who enjoy true crime books, this is a must. In particular, there is more on the Sabini gang than what I have read in a book that purports to be Darby Sabini's biography.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good 2 Jan 2014
I came to this book due to interests after watching the BBC 's drama Peaky Blinders. I did read a few reviews about the book and was a bit unsure due to some saying it was good and others being more negative, but I still purchased it. I have to admit that it is written in a very amateurish way, but it is perfectly clear that the author has immeasurable enthusiasm that does keep you keen even if the narrative does come a bit difficult to follow with jumping from one story to another. It does correct many a misconception about names and events but has a few itself such as stating Owney Madden was born in Sheffield, when he was a Leeds lad, but these are small errors and are limited, and does not effect the accuracy of the London element. The book does provide a base for any further research or reading by giving names of places, police men, members of the gangs, and more impressively contemporary works from the period. A must read for anyone interested in gangs, police and even horse racing in the inter war period.
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