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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
City of Gangs: Glasgow and the Rise of the British Gangster
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on 21 November 2013
Andrew Davies is a true academic and respected historian who specialises on the history of crime in modern Britain. It's clear from this and his previous excellent book, Gangs of Manchester, that he possesses an abundance of skills which enable him to source a plethora of minute details over many years of research and bring them to life; creating a compelling, informative and entertainingly read with superb clarity page upon page.

Based on Glasgow, one of Britain's most violent cities in the 1920s and 1930s, the reader learns about its violent gangs such as the Billy Boys, their fashions, weapons, loyalties, politics and reigns of terror, as well as the myths propagated by others.

Yet this brilliant study doesn't belong in the past - it's both relevant as well as fascinating -as it draws comparisons between these gangs and modern day gang culture. Dates may have changed but many of the factors that led to the spawning of these violent gangs are still present today, still negatively impacting on our youth. City of Gangs sends out the message that unless society does something quickly to address many of its problems, such as deprivation and bigotry, more violent gangs will be spawned and we will be drawing similar comparisons within similar genre books for many decades to come.
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on 1 December 2013
Really enjoyed this book. Brilliant read. I was gripped from start to finish. Very thorough research has gone into this book and it is full of fascinating stories of the people involved, which was very interesting for me as someone who loves biographies! Fascinating history of Glasgow and the effects of poverty on working class communities. Love it!
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on 3 September 2015
An enjoyable and informative read, obviously by an author who has a good grasp of his subject. The narrative does rather jump around chronologically, after the initial introduction, and as a result is often repetitive. The author acknowledges certain characteristics, without being able to give a convincing explanation. For example, how come with all the violence, and the resort to lethal, bladed weapons, including the infamous use of the razor, is the death rate so low - in comparison to other gang ridden cities, almost non existent. so low that the author can devote almost a full chapter to the circumstances of each interwar gang land violent death. Makes the fatalities in Midsomer, or even if T.F. Muir's genteel St Andrews seem 'remarkable'. I doubt that, in the heat of a violent, armed fight the gang members were able to exercise the necessary surgical skill and restraint, as the author suggest may be one reason for this anomaly. It leaves one with a nagging doubt that perhaps the gangland myth was to a considerable degree a result of publicity rather than fact. The author also makes considerable use of contemporary press archives, often of the (what is now) 'tabloid' press to provide much of the background, and this further causes one to have doubts about the sober detail of the problem. The author touches on, and does not appear to completely swallow the effectiveness of Sillitoe, his 'Cossacks', etc, etc in dealing with the problem, and perhaps leaves that aspect of the whole matter up in the air. A very interesting read, which, perhaps as good history is intended, leaves as many points for further reading, as it does provide any definitive answer. Recommended and interesting
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on 26 December 2013
A great read....young people trapped in poverty, unemployment, poorly housed with no access to leisure or sporting facilities gaining identity,status & esteem from gang membership... London today? no Glasgow 19203/30s.
Territory and religious sectarianism governing membership of gangs that involved thousands organised by committees, with junior & senior sections governed by rules of loyalty and hatred of police. Names to conjure with - Billy Boys, Norman Conks, San Toy, Beehive Boys. Street fights,extortion, protection rackets, theft.
Davies reveals the role of press, police, courts and jail in shaping the lives of gang members and their families in an accessible account that does not simplify or sensationalise.
This book would make a superb basis for a TV drama.
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on 19 May 2015
City of Gangs is a deep and detailed investigation into Glasgow's gangs of the early 20th century. From groups such as the Billy Boys to the Kent Star, Andrew Davies looks at the activities of Glasgow's many gangs, their social make-up, culture and the personalities involved. He also looks at the influence of sectarianism; the efforts to fight gangsterism, or the attempts use it as a political football... or even to romanticise the phenomenon. It's written in an engaging style, not at all stuffy - but at the same time, it's never superficial. All in all, I really enjoyed it.
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VINE VOICEon 20 July 2014
Crime is something that’s always held an allure for the reader and whilst there are times in the fictional world when the reader will declare that its gone to far, when you get to read the true story of how some of the gangs came about, it’ll more than fascinate as well as scare the reader in equal measure.

Its factual, is written in an easy to approach manner and when added to an authorly style that brings research over without having it like an info-dump all round generates something that is a wonderful read. Great stuff.
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on 9 April 2014
This book captures the very essence of the street life but also home life of these gangs. Great read would recommend this book
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on 30 November 2013
Bought as a present for a friend. Friend seemed to enjoy it , when asked if he liked the book.
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on 29 January 2017
fantastic if like me you are interested in Glasgow of the past
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on 9 September 2013
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