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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Rise and Fall of an Accidental Criminal, 19 Sept. 2010
This review is from: King Dido (Paperback)
A gripping story, convincing characters and an unusual milieu - the slums of London just before the First World War. The central character becomes an aristocrat of the criminal world not by design, but as a result of a challenge he is impelled to take up. Events unfold inexorably as he rises to power and inevitably falls.

Dido is inarticulate, remote, dispassionate, capable of cruelty and lacking empathy. Yet the reader sympathises with this character and his fate.

The author engages us in Dido's world from the outset. The story is told in simple language, with little elaboration of the basic sequence of events, yet explores timeless themes: destiny and its indifference to our fate, our individual powerlessness, the constraints of our environment and how our lives may be determined by one event.

This book has a ring of authenticity and the setting, characters and the way of life described are utterly convincing.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sadly neglected author: A true London novelist, 26 Nov. 2009
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This review is from: King Dido (Paperback)
I am overjoyed to see this fantastic novel back in print. For some strange reason Baron has been forgotten whilst many lesser writers continue to sell. I long to see readers support this book: only by supporting the brave publication of forgotten gems, can readers ensure we are not submerged beneath a tide of celebrity tittle-tattle and worthless modern 'fashionable' observation. Fans of Baron will be pleased to know that 'From the City From the Plough' is due to be republished in 2010.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb London thriller that abounds with memorable characters and fascinating period detail, 10 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: King Dido (Paperback)
This is the first book I have read by Alexander Baron (1917-1999) having heard very positive things about his work. He was a renowned London author, best known for his novel The Lowlife (1963).

His first novel, From the City, from the Plough (1948), was a best seller. It was based on Alexander Baron's own war service, fighting across France from the Normandy D-Day beaches. Baron went on to write many London novels which were similarly based largely on personal experience and observation.

King Dido (1969) is set in the years just before World War 1 and it's a gripping thriller about crime in the East End. It tells the story of Dido Peach, who is drawn into the violent world of protection rackets and gang warfare. Peach, a contradictory character, has his late father's violence and strength combined with his mother's concern for living a respectable, decent life. He rules his two younger brothers with a rod of iron and tries to live up to his mother's expectations. His family's attempt to lead a virtuous life brings them into conflict with a local family of thugs led by the monstrous Ginger Murchison. Dido Peach and Ginger Murchison engage in a vicious and vivid street fight.

The novel abounds with memorable characters, not least Inspector Merry - a cunning, ambitious and relentless policeman.

Full of extraordinary period detail, the book graphically and authentically evokes the world of the early twentieth century East London slums. This alone makes it a special book, however this detail is also aligned to a genuinely gripping story and an array of unforgettable characters. A superb book. I cannot wait to read more of Alexander Baron's work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest London novels, 30 July 2015
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The Defiant Fowler (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: King Dido (Paperback)
After being convinced by Jonathan Cape to change his name to Baron, Alexander Cohen chose to write about the tumultuous lives of gamblers and prostitutes on the streets of the East End, and the Jewish migration to suburban 1960s North London in ‘The Low Life’ and its sequel ‘Strip Jack Naked’. But his epic novel of Edwardian Jewish gangs is ‘King Dido’ and it remains my personal favourite.

The accidental rise and tragic fall of Peach Dido, a tough, silent man who simply tries to do the right thing for his neighbours, is the story of the East End in microcosm. He is pursued by the policeman with whom he has one more devastatingly sad meeting at the novel's conclusion. One of the very best London novels, and unjustly neglected, this postwar work is proof that serious literature can also be popular, and his elegant style and warm sense of humanity has secured a reputation that’s now enjoying a revival. Happily, his books are once more available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime and punishment in the East End, 2 Nov. 2013
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Chamberlin (Norwich, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: King Dido (Kindle Edition)
On one level this is a novel about London's pre-Great War underclass. On another, it is the former communist Baron's ruminations on leadership and the fickle nature of the apolitical working class. Overall, a very worthwhile novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty Realism from the Edwardian Slums, 17 Oct. 2014
This review is from: King Dido (Paperback)
A gritty slice of realism from the Edwardian East End slums, 'King Dido' follows Dido Peach as he floats up through the scum to a brief and unexpected reign as king of the underworld. Peach is a masterclass is character writing - a brooding anti-hero, repressed and constrained by his class and all-consuming pride. It's a cracking read - not sure why Baron isn't more famous nowadays. Read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic human drama, 30 Mar. 2014
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A. P. Reeves - See all my reviews
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This review is from: King Dido (Paperback)
Almost Dickensian in detail but unique in character observation & plot construction. Fabulous read recommended. Unknown to general public but a classic writer of his time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 April 2015
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This review is from: King Dido (Paperback)
Very entertaining
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 26 May 2015
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This review is from: King Dido (Paperback)
Excellent
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King Dido
King Dido by Alexander Baron (Paperback - 9 Oct. 2009)
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