19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2005
Bruce Reynolds manages to recreate the excitement (and the lows) of his long career working on the wrong side of the law. It was one of those books that I found extremely difficult to put down and you can't help feeling the disappointment as you approach the end. Reynolds recollects a time when the thief had morals and the police and the thief had a mutual respect for each other.
For the average law abiding citizen this book gives a good insight into the psychology and motivation of the criminal of Reynolds's ilk. Above all though, this book relays the sense of excitement that a daring robbery provides which I found particularly thrilling.
The book provides a good accurate account of the planning and execution of the Great Train Robbery - more so than the film "Buster". It's interesting to compare the two side by side - I know which version is the more realistic and believable!
In summary I found this an excellent book which I'm sure will not disappoint!
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 22 March 2005
I had never heard of Bruce Reynolds until I came across this book quite by accident and what a gem it turned out to be. This book was an astonishing read about the life of an (extra) ordinary boy from London who eventually rose to become the instigator and leader of the now famous and legendary great train robbery of 1963.
The book read so well, it was so absorbing that I was near fearful I would get my collar felt just for the fun of reading it! It is by no means your average mundane biography that struts and frets upon the stage and then is heard no more, no, this is a 'warts and all' magnum opus worthy of taking the time to read thoroughly.
Reynolds acknowledgement and honesty with his keenness to embrace villainy as a dedicated thief are admirable and many such candid remarks throughout make very excellent reading. Despite acknowledging a brief passing acquaintance with the Krays, Reynolds is not at all the stereotype violent gangster, on the contrary. I think the judiciary particularly Edmund Davies attempted to portray him and the other train robbers as just brutal and violent, but to Reynolds credit he clearly explains what really happened on the night of the train robbery with regards to the assault of the train driver, Mr. Jack Mills.
The book is filled with passages giving insight into the planning of a robbery, feeling the tension of uncertainty and the excitement of untold promise from the 'buzz' of stealing and being a 'crim'. Then when a robbery is underway he gives clear descriptions of feeling the inevitable fear of being caught as one successful robbery after another with some very close calls are recounted and brought to life just as though we are there to witness each event for ourselves.
Although the train robbery becomes the crescendo of the Reynolds biography, the details of his boyhood, wartime evacuation as a child, love of his family and loyalty to his friends are the very stuff of a man with true character ...and integrity.
I thought Reynolds observations about his philosophy towards life, his time spent in prison, his attempts to make amends with his notoriety as 'the Bruce, the train robber' is the very stuff of honesty, love, and passion for life.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2007
Convicted criminals (in common with many senior police officers) rarely produce readable autobiographies but Bruce Reynolds is the exception. In this well-written work, Mr. Reynolds minimises the violence used when carrying out robberies (but if he hadn't, he'd be the first robber to do so) and the evidence and the circumstances of the drugs case which led him into a 3 year sentence in 1985 are impressively obscured and/or watered-down.
But these are minor criticisms; the point is, Bruce Reynolds is a gifted writer and whether or not you like the way armed robbers obtain their money - and I don't - he is able to even-handedly describe the ups and downs of the life which he chose for himself. Even though most readers already know that he was sentenced to 25 years - this, on a plea! - for his part in the Great Train Robbery, Mr. Reynolds has the knack of perpetuating the story so that when he was finally arrested five years after the event, it almost comes as a shock.
The years spent in prison and his life afterwards are starkly described, as are the enormous pressures on his wife (in common with several of the Train Robbers' wives) and their life between his release from the GTR sentence and his imprisonment for the drugs offence, and thereafter.
Would any young offender reading this book profit from discovering how the man who masterminded one of the world's most audacious and well-planned robberies finished up in very reduced circumstances or would he be seduced by the picture of the glamorous and rewarding side of crime? Regrettably, almost certainly the latter but as Bruce Reynolds eventually found out, crime certainly doesn't pay.