If you are looking for a book to provide examples to refute the "wasn't the past wonderfully safe" brigade you should buy this book. I bought this book because my family history (mythology) includes a tale of my Grandad's Grandad or Dad regularly walking down the middle of the (Liverpool) Dock Road with a Shillelagh in one hand, a huge bunch of keys in the other (because he felt safe?) and the days takings for the firm in his pockets. I wanted to read about what it was really like, I wasn't disappointed. I particularly enjoyed the reference to the "penny dreadfuls" corrupting the youth of the day in the same way people banged on about video nasties in the 80's and computer games today. I was not surprised to find out that the boot boy and knife culture is nothing new and hoodies are just a different cap. Every politician and idyllic revisionist should be made to read something like this at best or eat it at worst, those who don't study history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
This is a terrific piece of research, written up with great understanding in a style that is vivid without being sensational. Much of the life among the urban poor has vanished from our ken and Michael Macilwee has dug it out with great aplomb. The so-called `respectable` classes only went to these areas if they had to and only if they were armed with pistols or sword-sticks. So what we despair of on our streets to day very much reflects the criminal and religious clashes of past ages. A really fascinating if alarming read put together with great style and skill. I really look forward to getting hold of his next two book in the series and seeing the TV programme with the Kemp Brothers.
Well researched, but rather dry account of the rough, impoverished side of Liverpool in Victorian times. I would guess that if you're not familiar with Liverpool, then it would not be a particularly good read. There doesn't appear to be much evidence of actual gangs; the book focuses on a particular murder case, almost from start to finish. Most of the case histories (presumably taken from court records and contempary newspaper stories) are typical of what you would read in any local newspaper in any city in the country, in any era up to the present day. The only saving grace was that I am familiar with the area in question, and the street where I grew up got a passing mention.
Well researched. Great use of photographs and maps. A real eye-opener - people who think today's society is aggressive and lawless should read this book. Late Victorian Liverpool was positively gruesome. Recommended.
Not what i was expecting when i bought the book, focuses mainly on 1 event/murder in particular. i wavered towards the end ut if you have an interest in liverpool in its 'hey-day' of merchant shipping and the lives of ruffer parts of the city centre, its a good read.