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Villains' Paradise: A History of Britain's Underworld
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Villains' Paradise: A History of Britain's Underworld

2.61  ·  Rating Details ·  18 Ratings  ·  4 Reviews
Thomas has excelled himself. An important and riveting study in social history, it also has a very pertinent relevance in the crime-riddled society that is Britain today.-The Sunday Times (London) A magnificent book. Beautifully written, utterly compelling: almost without fault in every respect.-The Literary Review Venturing into the urban underbelly of postwar Britain, an ...more
Paperback, 506 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Pegasus Books (first published September 12th 2005)
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Jill Hutchinson
I was expecting an in-depth look into the social issues which caused Britain's crime rate to soar during the time period covered by this book. Instead, the author included hundreds of individual crimes ranging from stealing ration books to smash and grab. Although there was some indication of the societal and economic reasons for the increased crime rate, there was too much minutiae. Not much information was given about the Mods, the Rockers, the notorious crooks Jack Spot and Billy Hill or the ...more
Tammy
Jul 14, 2015 Tammy rated it did not like it
I will let one paragraph from the New York Times review speak for why I gave up on this book:

"Unburdened by analysis and lightly sprinkled with a few statistics, 'Villains’ Paradise' makes better sense as pop history than as a serious study of crime. There are more ideas in the eight paragraphs of Orwell’s 'Decline of the English Murder' than in the 500 pages of Mr. Thomas’s earnest but disorganized and hugely redundant history, a recitation of shoot-outs, stick-ups and melees that simply does n
...more
Ken
Jan 22, 2009 Ken rated it liked it
Recommends it for: villains
solid 'survey' covering the crime scene in London, circa 1945-late 70s. mainly little stories and snippets, so nothing really in depth, per se, but it does provide an introduction to certain figures, so that further reading can lead from this...

on a side note, on the chapters of the Krays, the twin gangsters, while reading it, could not get Spandau Ballet's song, "GOLD," out of my head (the twins from the band played the Krays in the film version). but, that's just me. you will probably not expe
...more
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
After WWII, demobilization and an austerity economy left Britain a society absolutely ripe for exploitation by crime, a situation that spawned internationally-connected drug running, street gangs (now with army training!), gambling rackets, serial killers and other unpleasantness to push underfunded, understaffed and woefully disconnected British law enforcement.
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aka Francis Selwyn

Donald Serrell Thomas is an English author of (primarily) Victorian-era historical, crime and detective fiction, as well as books on factual crime and criminals, in particular several academic books on the history of crime in London. He has written a number of biographies, two volumes of poetry, and has also edited volumes of poetry by John Dryden and the Pre-Raphaelites.
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“The importance of setting a date, as in choosing a colour, is a matter of selection. Orange may be seen equally well as 'the decline and fall of red' or 'the rise and triumph of yellow'.” 2 likes
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