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Among the Hoods: My Years with a Teenage Gang [Kindle Edition]

Harriet Sergeant
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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Book Description

"They changed me a lot more than I changed them ... I went in as Anne Widdecombe and came out an anarchist."

In 2008 Harriet Sergeant - think tank report-writer, Daily Mail journalist and author of The Public and the Police - befriended a teenage gang in south London while doing research. What began as a conversation outside a chicken take-away shop became a three-year attempt to change their lives, taking her from job centres and the care system to prison and failing schools. Her experiences left her believing that the state has played an integral part in creating gang culture in Britain - and that the entire system must now change if we want to help these young men. Reading her story will challenge everything you thought you knew about society and politics today.

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Product Description


'Wonderful ... What Harriet Sergeant conveys subtly, yet with anger, is how the gangs behaviour makes crazy sense. It is a satire on the arrangements of the welfare state in which they are trapped.' Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph

'Harriet Sergeant is no frothy Lady Bountiful. She shares George Orwell s clarity and integrity and his readiness to mix with those he seeks to understand. Among The Hoods is a book written in anger, but born of patience and concern. It would be a terrible shame if it were dismissed as another reactionary rant. Those on the Left, Right and centre could all learn from it. In fact, if they refuse to learn from it, another generation of marginalised youngsters will surely be doomed.' --Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

'If you only read one book on gangs, let this be it. ' Shaun Bailey, Evening Standard

'Sergeant's transformation from conservative, icy observer to maternal support network offers a personal story which engages. This is a crisp and assured offering.' --Sunday Business Post

'A candid, and deeply affecting, report of one woman's encounter with a street gang. By the end of the book, and a story which has taken all of these boys further down their terrible path, Sergeant realises that, in the battle between the 'legit' world and the criminal one they live in to survive, she's 'on their side'. By the end, we are too. If you read it, it will make you cry. It will take a lot more than tears to salvage the lives of these children we betray, but someone caring would, at least, be a start.' --Christina Patterson, Independent

Book Description

The shocking true story of a teenage gang from South London, and how the state holds teenagers like them back.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 402 KB
  • Print Length: 237 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0571289177
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Non Fiction; Main edition (26 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0086KQ4OC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #173,448 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Troubling In Both Good And Bad Ways 1 Feb. 2013
By Genome
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Harriet Sergeant ought to be someone I'm opposed to all down the political line. A journalist for right-wing newspaper "The Daily Mail" and member of Conservative Think Tank "The Centre For Policy Studies" and yet she has produced a book about Britain's underclass youth that shows a real sensitivity, empathy and willingness to engage with people she ordinarily would never come into contact with in her daily life; kids from the 'other side' of the street.

She befriends and mentors a gang of South London teens, as she tries to help guide them from a life on the streets and crime, but comes to see how they are stymied at every stage by indifferent, box ticking State institutions and donation-hungry charities that do little with the money raised. They are trapped by not only their poor standards of literacy (so that they can't fill in complex bureaucratic forms) and chaotic lifestyles that mean they rarely keep appointments, but the move to break away from the 'Hood to a conventional life with such a remote chance of success through the paucity of life skills, is actually a psychologically rupturing decision, since once you repudiate your gang family, there is no returning back into their bosom when society almost inevitably rebuffs your attempts to try and go legit. So most don't even attempt to. Her natural political 'position' ought the criminality is due to family breakdown and a lack of male parental role models, is actually quickly overthrown for a far more sophisticated analysis into the plight of these kids broken at a very early age.

We get a very insightful report into the poverty of these kids' experience. Where everyday things we take for granted are completely unknown to them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation to many people. 26 Aug. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had this book drawn to my attention by a friend who heard Harriet Sargeant being interviewed on Radio 2. My friend and I are both regular visitors to a Young Offenders Institution as Samaritans, so we are interested in young lads who have committed criminal offences and have got know many of them very well. With this background neither of us were surprised to read about Harriet's experiences but we realised that they would be an eye-opener to most people - people who dismiss "Hoodies" and the like without knowing anything about them. Harriet bravely entered the hoodies world and what a shock she got! Buy the book and read Harriet's story - it'll change your ideas of hoodies I bet, and will also give you a good insight into a world you know nothing about.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who knew Britain was two different worlds? 11 July 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Anybody who has had even the slightest brush with the UK's `Employment Service' or `Social Security System' will know what a bureaucratic, inflexible system it is. If you are 16, illiterate and without a single person in the world to help you negotiate it, it's no wonder you are going to find other, often by necessity anti-social, ways to exist.

Unlike her friends in the visual media (all behaving badly here), Harriet Sergeant took the time to become deeply involved in the complex lives of Tuggy Tug and his gang over a period of three years. By the end, every middle-class value she holds has been comprehensively smashed as she realises that for one section of society, absolutely nothing in the majority's world is relevant to them - and often is a hindrance rather than a help.

Almost every page reveals the gulf in existence and experience. Boys are scared to stray beyond a few streets in winter, even out of their room in summer for fear of attack by other gangs... yet will commit street robbery on other black boys (never white women, as that's a prison sentence) for food money - but will remain permanently hungry as they spend on other things.

They are not just illiterate, but unable to communicate in anything but a patois used among friends - so no chance of being employed, even if a well-meaning businessman takes time from his schedule to interview them; and despite having self-taught skills that could prove valuable if only they could be harnessed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gangster! 18 Sept. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent book written by someone who has clearly had their eyes opened. Should be put on the curriculum at university for trainee teachers and social workers. Could have a few copies lying around at Westminster.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars among the hoods - Harriet Sergeant 10 Sept. 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's not every day that you read something that completely changes the way in which you think about a particular subject and I have fairly strong views on most things which are important to me! However this book has done just that and made me look at the subject of teenage gangs in a completely different light. Like most other people my views were fashioned by what I read in newspapers and saw on the television but here is a lady who took it upon herself to engage in an intimate way with the subjects of her book and in particular one young lad from a disadvanted background, in order to see for herself what these people are really like and how they have arrived at their position in life.
This is a well written and compelling account of her three years with these boys and I defy you not to be shocked, amazed and emotionally moved by her account. You may also, like me, be enraged by a society that allows this to happen to potentially decent youngsters!
I urge you to read this book, it isn't long but it will challenge your preconceptions!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this book
Really enjoyed this book. Opens your eyes, shows a lot of flaws in society and how there is a broken system in so many parts of it. Read more
Published 9 hours ago by Stephen
5.0 out of 5 stars people who in her line of work you'd never imagine her coming across...
This should be compulsory reading for anyone who works with children. Even put on the curriculum!
Living in the roughly the same areas around the same time as the youths... Read more
Published 3 months ago by McLovin
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply enjoyed this book
I loved this book. It gave a clear insight into what it was like for those struggling in economically deprived areas without a family unit. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lieutenant Jen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 5 months ago by Eve Modeste
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight in to the lives of others.
A very easy read, and enjoyable, but sad due to the lack of a positive future. It is bad that these boys are only portrayed in one way and we are made to fear them, keeping the... Read more
Published 6 months ago by emma sharif
5.0 out of 5 stars I too heard Harriet being interviewed on BBC2 and was ...
I too heard Harriet being interviewed on BBC2 and was so impressed I immediately downloaded it onto my Kindle. I have only now been reading it and am half way through. Read more
Published 6 months ago by DinnyB
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 9 months ago by John Krish
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading.
Superb book. Brilliantly written and researched, it will give you a different insight into gang culture.
Published 9 months ago by Ferryman
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love it
Published 10 months ago by stuart sleigh
5.0 out of 5 stars good
good read
Published 12 months ago by Crispbisc
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