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One Blood: Inside Britain's New Gang Culture Paperback – 6 Jul 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (6 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847392814
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847392817
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 785,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

`He talks to many gang members and former members, but is never voyeuristic. It is a welcome relief from the majority of journalistic coverage, which seems only interested in angelic victims and evil perpetrators' --Independent

`Heale offers a powerful critique of the various, either enforcement-driven, or pathology-informed, policy alternatives, periodically reminding the reader of the need to understand the socio-economic production of gangland before trying to grasp the ways in which people have come to live their lives there' --TLS

About the Author

John Heale is the pseudonym of an investigative journalist. He worked on television documentaries in the early 2000s, before freelancing for newspapers and magazines including The Times and The Telegraph. In 2007 he wrote One Blood as a response to what he saw as misleading coverage of youth crime in Britain. Since then he has lectured at the National Police Improvement Agency and provided consultancy services to a number of voluntary organisations. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a fantastically well-written insight in to Britain's gangs. Heale has conducted some fascinating (and frankly extremely brave) interviews with those figures at the heart of gang culture. This could have been written simply as a chapter-by-chapter account of these interviews, but Heale's novelistic style makes this a truly gripping, and at times traumatic, read. One Blood could also have sensationalised Britain's gangs, but it provides a very real, intelligent and mature account of gang life and an intriguing analysis of the problems associated with it. Indeed, it is often the casual and arbitrary nature of violence in this chaotic world that will shock the reader most of all.
Having finished the book, your perceptions of gang culture and the solutions to its problems will be turned on their head. Society appears to be misinterpreting the very nature of 'gangs' and until we understand that it is often the chaos, rather than order, of gang life that is feeding violence, the situation can only get worse. Heale has the courage to offer solutions but I suspect that his greatest contribution will be to bring greater awareness and understanding of this anarchic world.
Heale is a very talented writer and as a work of non-fiction alone this would have been a staggeringly good read. That it is non-fiction makes One Blood an extremely important book on a subject that has become one of the biggest issues in Britain today.
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Format: Paperback
This could have been a dazzling, grab-readers by the throat and force mainstream society to face hard realities to bring about real change, sort of a book. Heale has done all the hard - and often very dangerous - work; painstaking, on the street research in extremely tough areas, interviews with police, politicians and community leaders, and exhaustive background reading.
Unfortunately, Heale is incapable of wearing this research lightly. Instead of making his points through powerful examples with a deft commentary to tease out the ideas and conclusions, he likes to tell, tell, tell himself. The result is a book with far too much tedious, often unfocused, theorising. Heale's claim that it is 'written in the style of a novel' is laughable. Three quarters of it clunks along as if it was produced by a graduate student completing an MA on Gang Culture in Modern British Teenagers, packed with plodding academic phrases like: 'To understand why, one must' , 'As we've already established', 'It is worth dwelling...','This leads us to the issue of ...' etc etc.
There are a few moments where Heale shines. The start of chapter three when he describes a South London gang member gearing himself up for a killing is startling. Sadly, it is all too short.
This is still a book worth reading, and its ultimate conclusion about the chaos that underpins gang culture is undoubtedly true and important. But, alas, One Blood falls well short of the truly society changing work it had the potential to be.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was amazingly insightful and so interesting. It is full of facts and knowledge that help society to gain a better understanding of young people and their actions, but it was also heartbreaking to read so throroughly about some of the violent crimes.
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Format: Paperback
First a warning: it's a slow-burning book. Don't read it if you want constant thrills and spills. Agree with commentators who say at times it reads a too much like a sociology essay. But as the author says in the intro - that's the point, because gangs coverage in the media at the time was hysterical.

So much of what he says turns out to be prescient. If you follow his thesis through and look at what happened in inner cities in 2011 it stacks up: in one section he all but predicts the riots. If you want to understand the true nature of gangs, this is an excellent place to start.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very good book. Its strength lies in Heale's refusal to judge or dehumanise the people he interviews and studies. Yet nor is he a glamouriser or apologist for the gangster lifestyle. He is engaged, empathetic, humane and balanced. Reading this book reminded me of watching The Wire. Most importantly, Heale persuasively argues that the gang phenomenon is the societal consequence of the appalling polarisation of wealth and opportunity that began in Britain in the 1980s and has continued - in fact, accelerated - ever since. That's what politicians and policy-makers don't want to hear. No wonder Tony Blair crassly blames it all on the black community. But the real culprits, Heale argues, are poverty and disadvantage. In cities where the poorest people happen to be white, so are the gangs. My only criticism is that Heale's prose can be a little flat and humdrum, but he might argue that it fits his anti-sensationalist tone. Highly recommended, nevertheless.
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Format: Paperback
A gripping and shocking look at the gang culture of Britain. The book covers the reasons why, politically, socially, economically and morally why gangs not only form but why they hold such sway and influence over our society.

The book is easy to read, there are points in it that sound like an academic essay and can be quite heavy going but these are the pieces that carry the most weight when summing up the overall argument.

Heale is not sentimental about his subject nor does he glamourise and play up to the tags and reputations of the people he interviews. The book is a well balanced and convincing read.
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