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Hood Rat Paperback – 16 Feb 2012

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Hood Rat + One Blood: Inside Britain's Gang Culture + Among the Hoods: Exposing the Truth About Britain's Gangs
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (16 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330523082
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330523080
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 242,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gavin Knight is a journalist who has written for The Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Prospect, Newsweek, New Statesman, Esquire, Monocle and many other publications. He has also appeared on CNN, ITN, BBC, Channel Four news and Sky News.

Over the two years prior to the publication of HOOD RAT he was regularly embedded with frontline police units in London, Manchester and Glasgow as well as spending time with dozens of violent criminals involved in gun and gang crime. He accompanied detectives on a manhunt, firearms and drugs raids and was embedded with a CID unit over a lengthy drug surveillance operation. To source the powerful human stories at the centre of HOOD RAT, he spent time with criminals, inmates, gang members, heroin addicts, social workers, youth workers, charities, trauma surgeons, victims of violent crime and their families.

Product Description


"A gripping, terrifying exposure of a much-discussed - but never explained - part of Britain. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand our deeply fractured society." --Owen Jones, author of CHAVS

`Gavin Knight's Hood Rat is an unflinching account of life and
death in the sink estates of Britain. It penetrates environments
that most of us only glimpse in local news reports, and addresses
the kind of people that we fear encountering on a dark night or,
indeed, a bright afternoon.' --Observer

`The British Wire' --BBC Radio 5 Live

`In focusing on three cities, Knight tries to highlight major issues
in teen criminality: drug addicted, absent or ineffectual parenting,
gun culture, the profit motive and gangster chic. His research
is impressive. He spent two years embedded with the police in
these cities, and uncovers the sort of stories that never make
the news. A Somalian child soldier who relives the civil war on
the streets of London, Glaswegian gang fights in Easterhouse,
and homeless Sikh heroin addicts living in bin sheds . . . Hood Rat
does raise some deeply troubling and interesting questions.' --Scotsman

`Gavin Knight spent two years with anti-gang units in London,
Manchester and Glasgow in order to write his gripping new

`The book is a step forward for British true-crime.' --3AM

`An excellent and unputdownable true-crime book . . . Names may
be changed but everything else here is true. And in much the
same way Wire creator David Simon and Roberto "Gomorrah"
Saviano lifted the lid on Baltimore and Naples, so Knight (embedded
with undercover police and underworld contacts for years)
employs a series of interlocking, novelistic narratives to present
an immediate and immersive study of brutalised youth from
London to Glasgow "who'll live and die in a square mile", doomed
by peer-pressure - or their own treacherous postcode. Though
remaining profoundly political, there are no pat solutions or
easy analyses on offer - just shocking stories and statistics . . . and
perhaps a shard of hope too.'
--Word Magazine

`A rollicking tale' --Big Issue in the North

`In its approach and style, Gavin Knight's Hood Rat follows the
New Journalism that revolutionised the form in the 1960s . . . This
book is not only a disturbing, significant portrait of the present,
but a snapshot of Britain's future if this trend continues to escalate
. . . The pace of Hood Rat is spurred on by Knight's economy of
detail and staccato sentences, which thankfully avoid the slang
and colloquialisms found on the lips of those he encounters. His
experience crosses two worlds: he does not report simply on the gangs, but also on those entrusted with the powers to bring about
justice and change.' --Literary Review

`Its pace is thrillerish and there are passages of undeniable
tension.' --Sunday Times

`A challenging read . . . The author vividly shows a world where
drugs hook young boys into gangs, where posturing and "respect"
is all, so one gang murder escalates into revenge killings on both
sides.' --We Love This Book

`If more non-fiction books were like this I'd be reading more
of them but for now I'll just eagerly await Gavin Knight's next
--Ric's Reviews

About the Author

Gavin Knight has written for the Guardian, Newsweek, Esquire, The Times, Prospect and many other publications.

Over a two-year period he was regularly embedded with police units in inner-city London, Manchester and Glasgow. He also spent time with dozens of violent criminals involved in gang and gun crime. Hood Rat is his first book.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Burkard VINE VOICE on 26 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book as a bit of homework. I'm working with some British Army officers to start a Free School in Manchester, and I reckoned this might provide some useful background to local gang culture.

As the author admits, things have changed fast in the last couple of years. We no longer have gangs operating to a code, and the 'olders' who used to control things are history. Instead, we have kids as young as 8 brandishing knives and guns, eager to be 'blooded' and on their way to being a 'general'. Except there are hardly any generals left--gang life is pretty brutal, and the turnover is high. Indeed, one is almost nostalgic for the gangs that Gavin Knight writes about.

And these were horrendous. Knight was embedded in police operations in Manchester, London and Glasgow during the last decade. Boys, black and white, grew up in a world utterly divorced from the one most of us know. They do almost nothing except fight and deal drugs. If they're lucky, they live with their mums. Even if they make a bit of money selling drugs, they blow it so quickly that having their own flat is out of the question. In any case, hardly anyone thinks more than a minute ahead. Why bother when you could be dead any time?

The author ends with a hopeful note, explaining how Glasgow has cut gang warfare substantially by importing an American scheme that has succeeded in many American cities. Mostly it involves calling gangs in and getting mums to tell them how their lives were torn apart when their own sons were killed or seriously maimed. Knight says that just about the only thing these kids care about is their mums.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shaun Attwood on 1 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Took me right in there with the street gang culture in the UK today. Some really tense scenes, such as the shootout coming out of the nightclub that I can't wait to see in the movie. Read it in about 3 days. Couldn't put it down.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Silver Moon Sailor on 23 May 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are horrifying stories in this book. Pitiful ones too. The style of writing is clipped - monsyllables, short sentences. Individual social workers, police officers, gang members and their families are the dramatis personae. The jacket blurb explains that names have been changed, some characters conflated and bits left out or put in for dramatic effect. The author could as easily have not bothered. I would have preferred the words of the real people involved at the loss of some smoothness of the action. And there is a lot of action. Described dispassionately and unsensationally. Not a lot of sex and swearing for example. A good balance is kept between condoning and blaming for the destruction that gang member kids commit.This book does not glamorize drugs, gangs, guns or violence but it has a certain populist narrative style that threatens to do so at times.

There are some shocking things described that are tempting to put down to dramatic licence eg kids in London under 15 shooting people dead for ridiculous reasons of "disrespect" or for tiny amounts of drugs or money, other kids even younger in Glasgow squaring up for an insane version of British Bulldog with Samurai swords and machetes. Then today's headline in the news is a 15 year old kid in London getting life for executing a hit on a woman for £200. This stuff really is true.
At the end of it is a nice piece about a scheme in Glasgow that has helped to reduce gang damage a little. It is not the answer to all the problems but I was pleased to end the book on a note with some hope. It is up to all of us to change this crazy situation. These little kids could be all of our kids and are as much victims as perpetrators on the whole. Read the book and you will see what I mean.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Hamilton TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Knight is gripping. He writes with flair, punch and drama that instantly sucks you into the world he has spent years lurking around the fringes of.

He has an acute perception and can get this across in his writing, crime and criminals are complicated, chaotic and messy. He cuts through the chaff and reveals the underlying wheat.
The touches in the book are for me what elevates this to another level. The street thug who beats up people in order to gain respect actually lives in a windowless cupboard in his mums house.

The chapter on Glasgow gang warfare is particularly good, he gets across the bleakness of lives blighted by poor diet, poverty, drugs misuse and alcoholism. Rather than being a conscious choice he deftly illustrates how these lives are almost pre-determined, the factors stacked against them from the get go.

The only downside to this book is that there certain areas where a dramatic polish has been added to tidy up a narrative or give character or drama to certain situations. This cheapens Knight's writing and I think he should back off a bit with this, the people he writes about are interesting enough without needing buffed and polished, he risks turning them into generic criminals, cutout monsters to frighten suburbanites.

The people he has interviewed are deep characters in their own right and deserve to be left as they are, contradictory, unrestrained, whimsical, chaotic. This is where the true excellence lies and Knight has the insight to get these characteristics across.
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