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on 17 October 2014
It took me about 20 pages to 'get into' this book, as it quickly covers some of the story from 'The Cartel' which details the period 1973-2003 when Liverpool became the number 1 drug importer city in the UK.

But from then, it gets gripping, as the book then goes into the gang wars which occured between established cartel figures and allied gangs from the southside of the city (Toxteth) in conflict with the new American style street gangs and crime families rising in the north of the city - Everton, and the Nesgy soldjas and Crocky crew, (Croxteth and Norris Green).

What you will find as you read it is that many apparently unconnected news reports that you have seen - for example the grenade attacks and shootings on 2 WPCs by the one-eyed Dale Cregan, and basically went 'What the F! was that about???' These become starkly illuminated when you read the book (this was part of a gang campaign to intimidate the police along with exploding cars outside police stations) - all of which you don't get from the news reports. Or the shooting of the child Rhys Jones on his bike in Liverpool (by the crocky crew) etc.. finally you understand whats been going on in the city.

A lot of the story centers on Kallas and Sideoius (his lieutenant) and their gang war with Bubbley and cartel old school figure 'the Financier'. I soon established that Sidoius (who is described in the book as hanging around with a well known soapstar), was in-fact Tony Richardson (recently locked up) and the soapstar/gangsters moll was Jennifer Ellison. Kallas is James 'Pancake' Taylor.

No idea the real names of the rest, but one thing that is useful to do when reading the book is to look up on the Liverpool echo website/do general Internet searches on the characters i.e. Tony Richardson, or Colin Smith (the Boss of Bosses) who was recently assassinated in a hostile takeover attempt by other members of the cartel (also covered by the book). You will be shocked at how the articles in the echo match virtually word for word the content of the book.

The events and sequences will have you hanging on every page in a mixture of disbelief and suspense. (has this really been going on - thousands of people i the city on the drug payroll etc?).

Finally, one thing that has to be said, and is also covered quite well, but rather uncritically, by the book are the police reaction to the US style gangs and gangsters. The figure of 'the Analyst' - the policeman who encouraged new innovative policing methods used against the gangs talks to the author, and shows how major changes in the law against the gangs and gangsters - such as 'Joint Enterprise' - i.e. being able to charge an entire group of people with a serious offense if they all stay silent and 'don't grass' - (so they give up the shooter/leader) whereas before the law 'not grassing' would let them all free due to insufficient evidence means they all now grass - and a major part of the protection of being in a gang (i.e. being untouchable and above the law) has crumbled away.

Also the changes in/or application of the law to confiscate assets of crime if there is no proper explanation of how the suspect came by them legally, (which is what you would think would happen anyway!) this means the law is seemingly, finally, coming together with a toolset to effectively work against the gangs and gangsters. The police part all comes over as a bit panglossian as other news reports have shown that the Serious Proceeds of Crime Act is in fact rarely used, and there is a huge inertia in the system, with only a skeleton staff at the Home Office doing such asset confiscation.

Basically if you live in the city - this is a MUST READ! If you don't its still a amazing read.
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on 13 January 2014
This book is brilliant in that it explains the "business strategies" of the cartel and governments which I found particularly interesting. For me it was a real eye opener having lived in Norris Green when I was younger, went to some of the clubs mentioned and thought I remembered the name Terry Phillips and when I google him found he was the guy that owned the Wooky Hollow where I was the bar manager for a short time as paid for my way through college. When I met him he was very imposing his body shape and the size of his chest but quite small, and all of his staff there used to wear the dinner suites.

Back to the book, I hadn't realised the extent of the cartel's powers and how international their business was and how some of the drugs are no longer popular. The most worrying aspect of the book is the predictions from the man who started the Toxteth riots, and the future. The only heartening note is that the problem is an economic one which means that it can be solved, more jobs and more future for people. Its a disaster (if it isn't already) waiting to happen and what is the government doing about it, well quite frankly very little as the gap between the have's and the have not's gets greater with every successful government.

It requires a paradigm shift in power, away from the city and more towards the ordinary people but then again I thought that was what we used to call socialism but didn't we try that and fail?

I just couldn't put this book down nor could I fault it.

This book will really open your eyes and I am shocked to think that when I was younger Norris Green was a nice area and in my life time it has completely changed and we can only blame our politicians who have the ability to prevent this and they fell asleep on the job and the public have not held them to account.
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on 5 February 2015
An eye opener especially as to the extent today's police forces use far-reaching legal powers and Bond-like covert surveillance equipment in the War On Drugs. Johnson's well-researched book tends to favour the plod mafiosi, bigging up the Matrix but I would like to point out that the drugs are obviously winning despite the multi-millions being thrown at the war on drugs and law enforcements stalking, arresting and incarcerating at great cost everyone from street soljas to the so-called cartel's top lads. It's a matter-of-fact that most informed and impartial experts on the subject would agree that this heavy-handed, no-holds-barred fashion of paramilitary-style policing has become a growing industry in itself as well as alienating local communities. However effective in the short term the police are merely creating a temporary vacuum and there seems to be no end to the queue of would-be Scarfaces that eagerly want to fill that void because tax-paying punters can't seem to get enough of these drugs. A good read none-the-less. Yael Feeney would appear to be Shaun Smith who Johnson filmed for a vice documentary. It's available on YouTube. Also read a good book about the Scouse posses on kindle titled Cracking Up by Harry CrooksCracking Up: War Stories Of A Drug Thug. Recommend it.
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on 10 June 2013
A great follow up to the Cartel. Brings you bang up to date. Some of the nicknames used are quite annoying because two minutes on google tells you who a lot of these folks are anyway - not rumour or chat sites but full on news reports. In fact I recommend you do that, as you will get the detail to the events described, if your interested. Having said that, I think I might understand why the nicknames are used. Read it in a day, as the previous reviewer said, just wanted to plough on through.
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on 7 June 2013
Great New book from Graham Johnson. An informative, enjoyable book written in his usual easy to read style. It follow's on from The Cartel and brings us up to the current day even covering the recent shooting's in Liverpool. It also reveals some fascinating background's about Underworld figures involved with The Cartel including Dale Cregan.

I ordered this book approx 5:30am on my Kindle on the day of it's release and read it the same day. It's not a short book just gripping and hard to put down. Can't wait for the next Graham Johnson book. I've read hundred's of organised crime books including some very rare ones, from many different author's but Graham Johnson is probably the overall best writer on the subject.
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on 23 October 2013
In his book "Hack", Johnson freely admits to inventing and exaggerating stories when he was a slave of the Murdoch empire.Which begs the question-can you believe anything he writes?Also,given that so much of his writing relies on anonymous (uncheckable)sources,where is the corroboration for this material?
True,it's well written, but I'd take this,along with the rest of Johnson's writing,with a bucketload of salt.
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on 27 May 2015
Similar to his other effort The Cartel.
Goes on a lot of Mexicans etc that I just skimmed through.
Same old nicknames Kallas, Sidious. 2 secs on Google and you find there names...
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on 23 February 2014
This is what happens when the authorities fail to act at the beginning of a problem.I have worked all my life around the club's and pubs of Liverpool and Johnson knows the scene well
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on 13 August 2013
Young Blood is the Sequel to The Cartel so its best you read the Cartel first to get the full picture, its a great read that has you gripped from the start but in reality its a shocking insight into the life of a drug dealer that seems to ultimitly end in death or jail.
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on 7 October 2013
Great book, well researched but forgetting the failures of the police to curb this. My first book of a trilogy The Biggest Gang in Britain gives an insight into the culture and poor leadership which allowed such an expansion and foothold in the drug empires. The expansion of street gangs was allowed through diminishing moral and attitudes in the police.Book two released Christmas 2013 highlights further corruption and failures and again highlights some of the reasons for the well researched detail in this excellent book. In short The Biggest Gang could not defeat the many street gangs giving such a rise to The Young Blood.
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