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Gentlemen and Blackguards: Gambling Mania and the Plot to Steal the Derby of 1844 Paperback – 26 May 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; Reprint edition (26 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753824752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753824757
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 787,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Foulkes tells the murky story with characteristic panache. (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Fascinating (CATHOLIC HERALD)

The book not only concerns itself with the Derby ... along the way, there are murky tales of illegal gaming houses, prize fighting, murder, suicide and duelling. (SOUTH WALES ARGUS)

Book Description

Men, money, duelling and murder: welcome to the infamous Derby race of 1844 and the gambling mania that gripped early 19th century Britain.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 25 Jan. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I first read about the 1844 Epsom Derby back in the seventies in History of the Derby Stakes and have since read pieces about it in Great Sporting Scandals, Horse-Racing's Strangest Races, Eclipse and other books, some running to a few pages but each of them outlining the basic details without giving exactly the same account; the peripheral information differed in each case. I knew there was a big story in that race that deserved greater attention, which eventually came in the form of this book, written by a historian rather than a racing journalist. Apparently, the author learned about the 1844 Derby while researching another book that he was writing and realized that it had potential as the basis for a book about nineteenth century gambling.

Among all sporting scandals, the 1844 Derby stands out because it involved several apparently unrelated scandals. There was cheating to try and ensure victory; the race was for three-year-old horses, but two older horses ran in the race, these being Running Rein and Leander. There was also cheating to stop at least one horse winning; Ratan, who was very likely the best horse in the race, was drugged up to his eyeballs and ridden by a jockey who had bet against him, yet still finished seventh of 29 as they crossed the line.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. K. Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Oct. 2012
Format: Paperback
By the mid 19th Century, the Epsom Derby was regarded as the major sporting event of the British calendar. But it was also the focus for criminals and swindlers, as gambling fever gripped the nation.

When the 1844 Derby ended in chaos, with the two favourite horses doped and the result challenged, the subsequent court case threw a light into this murky world. And this forced changes throughout society as the hedonistic free-wheeling spirit of the time gave way to Victorian values and codes of respectable behaviour.

But the book not only concerns itself with the Derby, as historian Nicholas Foulkes also examines the way that gambling had affected all sections of society. Along the way there are murky tales of illegal gaming houses, prize fighting, murder, suicide and dueling.

Gentleman and Blackguards, with its cast of colourful characters, is a very readable account of a fascinating point in British history - the dawning of the Victorian age.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Plucked Highbrow on 26 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whilst the centre focus of this story is a plot to win a fortune by 'fixing' the Derby of 1844, Foulkes' makes sure that the reader is well aware of the context in terms of society at that time. The early 19th Century was a time when gambling addiction amongst the upper classes was rife. The sums gambled were phenomenal by todays standards and gambling was not regulated like today.

The cast of characters in the book is wide and varied - from the gentlemen to the blackguards. There is nothing more zealous than a convert and George Bentinck was determined to stamp out corruption in horse-racing. The plot in the 1844 Derby has been repeated often over the years - substituting horses - and on this occasion was not successful.

A fascinating insight into changing society and how fortunes were won and lost.
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By KENNETH W. on 11 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
great read
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sadler's Wells on 7 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is the only book by Mr. Foulkes I have read. And it will be the last. His style is just awful. The narrative doubles back on itself many times and the same points repeated many times. Overall its a great tale that is ruined by terrible writing.
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