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The Guv'nor by [McLean, Lenny]
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The Guv'nor Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 301 customer reviews

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Length: 241 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Amazon Review

Lenny McLean: the Guv'nor, Dirty Len, a human timebomb waiting to go off, one of the old school--however he was known, Len McLean was--until his high-profile death through cancer in 1998-a living legend and the truth behind a dozen urban myths (all of them extremely violent no doubt); as well as a byword for toughness and street smarts. You didn't mess with Len. Stories of his exploits abound, his name being known far beyond his native manor of Hoxton, with a fearsome reputation built on the back of being a gentleman and one of the best fighters I have ever seen, according to the late Ron Kray. The turn out of minor celebrities and gangland notables at his funeral is a testimony to the (for him) all-important respect this larger- than-life character earned in his chequered life. But who was the great pugilist-turned-actor (see his impressive performance playing, not surprisingly, an East End enforcer in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), and what does it take to be the so-called Guv'nor?

In The Guv'nor, Len takes us, in what largely seems to be his own words (those offended by coarse language beware, he is no honey-tongued rhetorician), through his reminiscences. He evokes a compelling picture of times past, of a tough childhood growing up in the impoverished East End under the auspices of a brutally violent and unforgiving stepfather. He lived his early life in violence, and from that point, through a career of petty crime, minding, bouncing and unlicensed prize fighting (in fact anything that required muscle--his weapons were his fists, and he never used a shooter) it never ended. Because violence came so naturally to Len, his blasé attitude to hospitalising several slags ("no good bastards", so the helpful glossary of colourful terms informs us) can be bluntly shocking. But although violence was a feature of his life, this is not what the man (nor the book) was about. Len was essentially a man of simple values, but with a temper and the tools to make those who crossed or challenged him regret it--badly. A man of strong principles, (by his own account but also by the account of many others), a loving husband and father, not to mention brother, uncle, friend and, perhaps most poignantly, son of a cherished mother. Like many other hard men, he had a particular soft spot for his mother, who herself lived a cruelly tough life of sacrifice and subjugation.

When I met Len, he was courteous and charming, but the air of menace was unmistakable when he had to straighten a fellow bouncer for disrespecting a lady (I cannot remember what the guy actually did, but he definitely wouldn't do it again in Len's presence). Once the message was received, he happily returned to chatting, enlightening me with his words of wisdom. And what wisdom, you may ask, did I take from him? Son, treat kindness with kindness, he pronounced in that gravelly, stentorian tone--an admirable sentiment I thought--and violence with EXTREME violence! he trumpeted. Thankfully, few, if any, can do it quite like Lenny.--Alisdair Bowles


'He was a man amongst men. His life was extraordinary.' Vinnie Jones

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 762 KB
  • Print Length: 241 pages
  • Publisher: John Blake (15 Jan. 2003)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0078XGXVM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 301 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,468 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"The Guv'nor" opens with the protagonist Lenny McLean relating fond memories of his parents, despite the materially tough times they lived in back then. Unfortunately for him, however, they would become much tougher with the sad death of his beloved father, and the arrival of a violent step-father who regularly beat Len, his brothers and even the widow.

Len tells of the petty crime he engaged in as a young lad and of some of the time he was put away for it. But it's the brutal beatings he suffered at home that would become the catalyst for Len to lead a violent and difficult adult life, in which he became the world's meanest bare-knuckle fighter, worked the doors, collected debts, mixed with characters from the underworld, was stabbed, and was shot at twice.

The violence is horrific, as Len recounts some of the opponents he came up against as a prize fighter, some of them cold-blooded men who would have thought nothing about beating him to the point of paralysis. He recalls as well how drunks who tried to assault him on the doors, and people who shot at him or stabbed him, ended up on the receiving end of some brutal punishment, as did anyone else who tried to take a pot shot or pull a fast one on him.

The great thing about "The Guv'nor", though, is that it's not all savage beatings and violence. It's the story of a man who would have walked to the ends of the earth for his parents, wife and kids; and of a big-hearted man and loyal friend who others could always depend on when it counted. There are genuinely touching moments in the book, such as the death of his mum, and the meeting with his future wife for the first time ("The door opened and in walked this little angel, and Lenny took a knockout.
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Format: Hardcover
I must say this is not a book review at all. I was a bare knuckle fighter in the Gypsy world and then moved on to Ultimate and Cult fighting in the States. I found myself engulfed in a strange world and the cocaine zombie of an organised ring. Lenny McClean got me through that time and helped me get out of the fight world. I did a documentary with Lenny on bare fist that, while still banned will eventually be released. Lenny leaned on me one day and made me promise to pack the game in ... He said "son you've got a lot to offer those kids who need you ( I now counsell drug abuse and young offenders) don't let em down" I replied "OK" .. he said " OK is no good to me, I can't spend that - promise me"..so I made the promise. He said"Good Boy", like I was a kid,then he took hold of me and squeezed me like little doll under his huge arm, I am only 5'4 to his massive frame. Without Lenny I would still be fighting and may even be dead. I wont leave my name or contact because I have a book coming out myself and so this message would loose its value as a thank you and seem an attempt of publicity. Believe me Lenny was a man with a big heart. dont let the roaring fool you. Like me what else can you do without a good education, you have to go for the gold. Lenny .. Thanks from my four girls for giving them their dad back.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Obviously i was aware of lenny mclean before i bought this book. I have lost a bit of respect for the guy after reading this. It turns out he was a bully who would punch people so hard they ended up in hospital, even killing a man with his fists, but he managed to escape the charges. Would do anything for his friends, but any drunk people in the pub where he worked at would get one hell of a beating for no real reason. Hardly a man of honor .
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By A Customer on 9 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
A good read but a little far-fetched. Lenny didn't have 3000 fights. He had 15 and lost 5. Cliff Fields knocked him sparko in one round and Johnny Waldroun put his lights out in under one round TWICE. Lenny said at the time that Cliff Fields "looked like he came out of the mountains".
Bearing these facts in mind this is a good read and probably the best of the "hardman" genre.
Roy shaw once remarked it was the ginseng that had lost him his third fight with Lenny. Lenny said "It could have been the ginseng, or it might have been the righthand that put him in the third row".
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Okay, this is one of those many books about gangsters and suchlike East End characters. As you would expect, it tells the story of a life, in this case that of Lenny McLean. If you've read a few, you won't be surprised that Lenny breaks the law frequently and about as frequently breaks jaws. As they all do he has his own set of values and sticks by them. If you're an okay bloke he'll maybe go easy on you, maybe just a broken jaw, except he's got to do you good if you're fighting him in the ring. If you're a "slag" (you live by a different set of values that Lenny doen't approve of) then you'll get a real pasting. He often carries on when his opponent is unconscious. In other words, like all the gangster memoirs I've read, he's trying to tell you that he's a good guy and justify his lifestyle and values. The need to do this, in my opinion tells me that he, himself is to many, a wrong 'un. But hey, if he was a window cleaner, warehouseman or actor, we wouldn't be so interested in him and read the book.

Having got that out of the way, there is a story of a life here. It is definitely interesting and is pretty well written. You get a feel for his invincibility in fist fights and the description of the violence at once puts you there and often rooting for him. He also lets you in on his family life and you see a softer underbelly. The descriptions of the beatings his step-father gave him are graphic and go quite some way towards explaining how he came to be as he was. He does at the same time project himself as having a fearsome image of someone who can't be beaten, who has the connections to open doors and get things done and who can do no wrong!
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