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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 15 March 2015
Fantastic book, couldn't put it down and was left wanting to know much more about the Kray Twins. John Pearson is a brilliant author, every page is gripping and when you think you'll just read a few more pages, you find it's turned into chapters. All his books about them are of this quality, they couldn't have chosen a better person to write their biography.
Whether you admire or despise them I think what set the Krays apart from any other gangsters/criminals is that they had genuine charisma, only those two though, not their brother. Maybe it was their twinship and 'identicalness' that gave it to them, I can't decide which one was more fascinating but one thing is for sure - together they were formidable, both to look at and, by all accounts, to do business with.
Even now, pictures of them leave you feeling mesmerised and slightly scared so I can't imagine what it must have been like back in the day to have them on your case.
They accepted their life sentences but I suspect Reggie Kray, serving over and above his tariff, became more of a political prisoner in the end, paying the price for their crimes against the Establishment. I think he was also punished for both of them continuing to court the publicity that helped turn them into the legend they have become, and rightly or wrongly, earning them a place in history.
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on 27 September 2015
Very good condition
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on 29 October 2014
Not quite as good as 'A Profession of Violence' but as always with John Pearson an interesting read. However, there was a glaring error around the reference to the Rolling Stones and the Redlands bust. Pearson states this was Mick Jagger's home - it wasn't it was Keith Richards'. And he later refers to Anita Pallenberg's relationship with Keith Jones!!! Sloppy research - which then throws doubt on everything else in the book. Which is a shame.
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on 2 April 2016
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This book concerns itself largely with the creation, as it puts it, of the Kray legend. Various events in their lives are retold, perhaps most interestingly the boyhood infection of diphtheria that the twins suffered, Ronald Kray especially severely, and the effect this may have had upon his mental state; possibly contributing to his paranoid schizophrenia. Their lives in the East End of Bethnal Green, their move to the 'West' with the establishment of the club 'Esmeralda's Barn' in Knightsbridge and their place within the swinging 60s are described. The factors that allowed the Krays unfettered activity for some time as Scotland Yard were warned off and the political influences that brought this about are discussed, particularly the role of their acquaintance with Lord Boothby. Perhaps, of necessity, much detail is omitted relating to their activities, e.g. the establishment of the 'Kentucky Club' and the range of their influence in the East End given that they had rivals. There are a few factual errors related to East End history, e.g. the abode of Anthony Armstrong-Jones was not Narrow Street, nor was David Bailey born or brought up in Bermondsey; this is a little disconcerting and points to a careless approach to research. Written in a journalistic style the book is neither great nor definitive but is interesting.
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on 4 October 2001
The legendary status bestowed upon the Kray Twins is largely due to John Pearson's groundbreaking 1972 biography 'The Profession of Violence'. Since this shocking introduction to gangland, originally released just a few years into their life sentences, there have been literally dozens of books containing the name 'Kray' within their title, very few of which even come close to Pearson's early masterpiece. Despite 'Profession...' being reissued four times it has taken almost thirty years for him to pen the sequel, but it has certainly been worth the wait. It is difficult to imagine there being anything new that could be written about the Twins, but Pearson somehow manages to give a completely new insight into their private lives, including the thoughts of their Mother and Father, gained from hours spent in their company in his position as the Twins' official biographer. Much of the 'new' material is now available due to agreements with key personnel that none of it should be made public while either of the Twins was still alive. The now infamous tales of the slaughtering of Cornell and McVitie have been told and retold and this book does not try and tell them again, but instead offers a 'behind the scenes' glimpse of the real men that were The Krays, in a way that only John Pearson could achieve. Another masterpiece from the master himself.
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on 10 June 2005
Just what is it about the Krays that keeps us fascinated? Pearson's book, not written until the last Kray was dead and buried, still has the appeal of the original - we are drawn into the bygone world of the criminal fraternity of the Old East End, where the Kray twins held complete control over the lives (and souls) of their 'Firm', ruling them with the threat of violence and even death, but apparently keeping the streets 'safe' for the 'ordinary man'. Pearson is in no doubt about the true nature of the twins - he sees and depicts them as callous murderers, but in his attempt to analyse the roots of their behaviour, builds a fascinating picture of sibling rivalry and mental illness. 30 years after 'The Profession of Violence' he is now 'safe' to write truthfully about their murders and maimings, homosexuality and obsessions. The most worrying thing is that we find this world absolutely compelling, and I was sorry when I came to the end of the book. I would have liked to hear more about Vi Kray, as the driving force behind the twins in their early years, and the matriarch of this extraordinary family. A thoroughly absorbing read.
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on 2 April 2016
Fascinating book. I was six when the Krays were imprisoned but was nevertheless vaguely aware of them throughout my teens and twenties, such was their ability to remain in the limelight. It's impossible to imagine two people establishing and exerting such a degree of control over a large area of the Capital nowadays based on pure fear. Their seemingly charmed life and ability to mix in and influence the higher echelons of the British Establishment from their humble origins is truly fascinating and throws a glaring light on the relative innocence and naievety of a long-past era. Well written by the author, who clearly knew the Krays well and had true insight into their bizarre and fascinating characters.
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on 11 February 2014
As you'd expect from John Pearson , the book is well written , informative and entertaining . A must read for anyone who read a profession of violence
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on 21 February 2016
An in depth look at the psychology of the twins and the effects they had on one another. The theory of Ronny Kray's disturbed mind being the result of childhood diphtheria is very interesting as is Reg's loyalty to his brother to the very end when he could have saved himself from such a long sentence. John Pearson was obviously very much on the inside track and offers insights that make this book a great read.
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