VILLAINS’ PARADISE

A HISTORY OF BRITAIN’S UNDERWORLD

Murderers, swindlers, prostitutes, burglars, gangs, thugs, conmen and cops collide in England.

The subtitle is misleading: Thomas focuses on the 25 years following World War II. Like his earlier true-crime works (The Victorian Underworld, 1998, etc.), this one evidences the author’s prodigious research of newspaper and criminal-court archives. Thomas also mixes in numerous allusions to the era’s crime novels and films, endeavoring to demonstrate how popular culture influenced, perhaps even inspired, the miscreants. He manifests some nostalgia for the death penalty, abolished in England in 1964, and several times implies that certain crimes (e.g., cop-killing) cry out for it. Encyclopedic in scope and style, the text begins with a few chapters on the austerity of daily life at the end of the war before moving on to the main narrative, a recitation of various sordid and celebrated cases. Some of England’s more notable nasties stalk these pages: sadistic murderer Neville Heath, blood-drinking killer John Haigh; John Christie, who stored his victims under the floorboards; postal robber Billy Hill; and 1950s street punks the Teddy Boys. The author examines as well some of the era’s biggest heists, involving banks, trains, postal vehicles and armored cars. He worries about the scourge of drugs and drug lords. He chronicles the brutal careers of twin brothers Ronnie and Reggie Kray, whose huge funeral processions rivaled those of royalty. Some well-known non-criminal names also appear in these pages. Did John Fowles borrow material from an actual 1957 case for his 1963 novel The Collector? Did the cops really find cannabis in Mick Jagger’s house in 1969, or did they plant it? The Jagger question appears in one of the later chapters, which take a quick look at cases involving police corruption—and heroism.

Comprehensive to a fault.

Pub Date: March 12, 2007

ISBN: 1-933648-17-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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