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No Beast So Fierce

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  1,366 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
After serving an eight-year term in Folsom State Prison, Max Dembo is determined not to return to his former way of life, in a realistic, suspenseful study of the pressures facing ex-convicts as they attempt to negotiate the straight world. Reissue.
320 pages
Published (first published January 28th 1972)
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Dan Schwent
Dec 08, 2014 Dan Schwent rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, 2017-books
When Max Dembo gets paroled after eight years in the joint, he's starting at square one. With no money and no job, how will he avoid falling back into his old habits?

As a white collar, law-abiding citizen, prison has always held a bit of mystique for me. I enjoyed The Animal Factory enough to snap this up when it showed up in my BookGorilla email on the cheap.

If I ever had any doubts about the ineffectiveness of the American prison system, they would have been shattered by this. Max is put back
Tom Tabasco
Nov 15, 2012 Tom Tabasco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ed Bunker, the author of No Beast So Fierce, is the only guy in the movie Reservoir Dogs who actually looks like a real criminal. That's because he was one, for a long time. And then he was in jail for a long time. This is his first novel, very auto-biographical, with some elements of fiction, and, despite the ugliness of the subject matter (real crime), it pulsates with such a raw energy, such an intensity, that at the end of it, when you close it, you have to raise your eyebrows and go: Wow! A ...more
Paul Bryant
Sep 28, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: crime fiction fans
This book stays burned into my mind long after many better written novels have faded. A fine portrait of a very nasty individual.
Jul 23, 2014 AC rated it it was amazing
This is as interesting a book, and as intelligent a writer as I've read all year. It is searing, authentic, original, simple...moving, uncompromising...

I don't know quite how to review it, except to say that I'll pound the table on this one.

If you liked Don Carpenter's Hard Rain, and John Williams' Stoner, and like crime novels and thrillers, and psychologically complex and existential characters, try this book. It is that good.
Jul 07, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it
There is a song by musician David Baerwald inspired by Edward Bunker called A Prisoner's Dream and in the song, Baerwald depicts that prisoners can also have hopes, wishes, and dreams while being caged from society. From listening to the song, it seems as if this song describes prison inmates in the most idealistic of fashion. It depicts prisoners as often being the product churned out by society and influences beyond their control and how they, too, maintain faith in humanity while trying to li ...more
Apr 12, 2014 Still rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Who Are New To Crime Lit
Recommended to Still by: The Whole Wide World
Shelves: unable-to-finish

Max's black friend from prison breaks out, Max drives up north above the Bay area to pick him up and find him a safe house while the authorities are looking for him. Max intends to set him up as a potential partner-in-crime back in L.A., see?

This is the description of the neighborhood of the pad Max has found for his pal:

We found him a furnished room in a large Victorian house. The room was quite spacious, on the second floor. A huge window overlooked the front lawn and tree-shaded street.
Perry Whitford
Jul 29, 2012 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Authentic crime fiction, written behind bars by a man who spent nearly twenty years in the hatch for all manor of crimes, some violent. Edward Bunker doubtless called on actual experience for much of the story, which is not so much a plot as an unfolding of events.

His fictional protagonist, Max Dembo, is a career criminal, dreaming of going straight the day of his release after serving an eight year stretch, his longest incarceration. Upon hitting the streets, however, lack of employment opport
Il primo noir del Signore del Noir, parola di James Ellroy (e io dello zio James mi fido sempre...).
Veramente bello, anche se ogni tanto pare un po' perdersi e dilungarsi.

In libertà condizionata, Max non ce la fa e nonostante le convinzioni e le ripromesse alla fine ricasca, come non era mai cascato prima.
Il tutto sullo sfondo di una LA insanguinata, drogata, corrotta e violenta.
Il tutto mettendo in gioco valori, definendoli e poi sbaragliandoli.
Nessuno è libero in questa società. Le azioni del

Raegan Butcher
Apr 12, 2008 Raegan Butcher rated it it was amazing
Excellent debut novel from Eddie Bunk. Drips with authenticity.
Mar 26, 2017 Gilla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: north-american
- "Perché non ci hai neanche tentato?
- Non sei costretto a tentare di attraversare il Pacifico a nuoto per capire che non ce la farai..."
Così Max Dembo rinuncia a tutti i buoni propositi di redenzione fatti una volta uscito dal carcere in libertà condizionata.

Non un romanzo memorabile come vorrebbero James Ellroy o Niccolò Ammaniti ma interessante se si vuole indagare l'universo di chi si trova costretto a delinquere perché - nonostante le buone intenzioni - non conosce altra modalità di soprav
Lauren Davis
Jun 07, 2017 Lauren Davis rated it liked it
I'm sure this was groundbreaking when it first came out, but now it feels sadly dated. Or perhaps I've just read too many of these sorts of memoirs, or... known too many people like this.
Dec 16, 2014 Jessica rated it liked it
In my quest to escape from the safe little box the books I read normally fall within, I've challenged myself to pick up things that aren't usually me. Edward Bunker's No Beast So Fierce was my first attempt to do that. This is an autobiographical crime novel. It's written as the memoir of Max Dembo, a parolee from Folsom Prison who has just completed an eight-year term. Trust me when I say that this isn't the type of book I'd normally choose to read. Keep that in mind too, while you read this re ...more
ABC Group
Sep 16, 2011 ABC Group rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bunker's debut novel is hailed by some as a masterpiece of crime fiction. James Ellroy, William Styron and even Quentin Tarantino all sing his praises. Bunker even wound up in Reservoir Dogs as Mr. Blue.

I read a lot of books considered to be crime fiction and Bunker stands apart in what would be more appropriately termed prison fiction. Max Dembo finds himself released from prison after an year stint. Now he's trying to live the life of the straight and narrow. Max's conviction is like that of a
Apr 23, 2012 Simon rated it it was amazing
No Beast So Fierce by Edward Bunker

This was Ed Bunkers debut novel that was written
while he was in prison and looking for a way out
of a life of perpetual crime and imprisonment
that seemed to be his destiny.
It also seemingly was the destiny for the main
character in this book Max Dembo who we meet
while he is inside awaiting release on Parole,
he is a career criminal who was schooled in
crime while working his way through the
childcare system in the US and is hard as nails
as he proves on his
Apr 03, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing
Di con este libro porque estaba buscando el de Jackie Brown y descubrí que Mr. Blue de Perros de reserva era escritor. Esta es su primer novela y la neta no defrauda. Edward Bunker fue ladrón, asalta bancos, narco, pimp, preso. Toda esta experiencia la usa para narrar esta novela en la forja el retrato de un individuo desesperado que al salir de la cárcel intenta ser una persona de bien sólo para encontrarse atrapado en los bajos mundos de Los Ángeles rodeado por un espiral de ira y desesperació ...more
pierlapo  quimby
Nov 15, 2010 pierlapo quimby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anglofoni
Max Dembo sa di aver sbagliato e ne ha pagato le conseguenze.
Ora vuol provare a ricominciare, a sistemarsi, come una persona normale.
E ci prova. Forse, però, non abbastanza. O forse, per uno come lui non c'è altra via che quella del crimine
E' un poco di buono, in fondo, e all'occorrenza sa mascherarsi da bestia feroce.
Alla fine, resta il tremendo rimpianto per un'occasione sprecata.
Carrie Kaplowitz
Jul 01, 2013 Carrie Kaplowitz rated it it was ok
Honestly, I would have given 2 1/2 stars. It really was a lot of reading about someone who lives a life of crime after getting out of prison. Not much interest and really most of the book is about setting up one robbery after another.
Bunker sabe lo que hace.
D. Reed
May 26, 2017 D. Reed rated it liked it
I picked this up for insight into the criminal mind. It provided some of that, but the author tried too hard to impress. For an almost fifty year old book, it still seems timely. I never developed any sympathy for Max, and thought some scenes implausible - the relationship with the parole officer, and the girl. It gets a lukewarm recommendation.
May 05, 2017 Dennis rated it really liked it
Gritty & realistic. Holds up well after all these years. I'll read more of Bunker.
Brandon Duncan
Dec 31, 2016 Brandon Duncan rated it it was amazing

He wrote about what he knew most, the criminal lifestyle, and his writing style is under rated if you ask me. I liked all of his works.
Fierce indeed. Up there with the best.
Jan 21, 2014 Jodell rated it really liked it
Shelves: foster-care, prison
This book describes and depicts the realities of life once a person is released from prison. I agree with the part of law enforcement and correctional agencies that most prison environments are dehumanizing and not oriented towards "rehabilitation" or developing personal empathy or insights that will lead to positive changes.

However, I also believe that some convicts rationalize their behavior to blame external circumstances or experiences for leading to criminal behavior. There is no behavior w
Max Dembo è un figlio di puttana, infanzia difficile tra famiglie affidatarie e istituti e riformatori, allevato a furti e droga.
Poi, ovviamente il carcere. Una lunga permanenza, otto anni, una bella fetta di giovinezza . Studia nel carcere, Max. Ci crede nella vita nuova, fuori. E’ consapevole di ciò che è stato, si condanna, ma contemporaneamente si assolve. E’ un prodotto della società.
Fuori dal carcere la spirale “malavitosa” riprende.
Ineluttabile destino, per chi fuori non ha altri aggan
Nov 15, 2012 Carlo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dopo una vita trascorsa tra riformatorio e prigione, Max Dembo vorrebbe provare a reinserirsi nella società, forte anche di quel po’ di cultura che si è fatto in prigione (perché ‘in otto anni anche un cretino’ se la farebbe). Uscito in libertà condizionata, scopre ben presto che quella vita non fa per lui e, del resto, la società non sembra poi così ben intenzionata ad accoglierlo: meglio tornare alla vecchia vita, malgrado i rischi siano sempre in agguato per cancellare i pochi momenti luminos ...more
Procyon Lotor
Delinquente! Sicuramente scritto peggio dei Promessi Sposi, quantunque Bunker sappia scrivere, salvo che lui fu veramente un Bravo, e mentre i Bravi narrati nel libro sono verosimili o autobiografici addirittura, quelli nei PS sono delle macchiette irredimibili che mostrano solo (per fortuna dell'Autore) che di certi soggetti, al massimo ne ebbe nozione con racconti di terza mano o clich� libreschi. Per cui se parliamo di importanza letteraria, vinceranno sempre i libri "PS", se parliamo di info ...more
Diversamente dalla maggior parte dei libri che ho letto non riesco ad avere un'opinione ben definita su questo, perché per me è stata una lettura a metà strada tra l'avvincente e il suo esatto opposto. E non me l'aspettavo. Non me l'aspettavo perché viste le premesse della trama immaginavo una storia che mi avrebbe del tutto assorbita, dato l'argomento particolare e a mio avviso interessante. E visto anche il passato criminale dell'autore prima di scrivere questo libro quasi autobiografico, circ ...more
Big Pete
Sep 27, 2016 Big Pete rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very great crime novel that is authentic, possessed of literary merit, and decently written. As with Joe Wambaugh and Don Winslow, I first heard about Eddie Bunker from James Ellroy. A little research revealed that Eddie was none other than Mr. Blue from Reservoir Dogs. Pleasantly surprised, I did a little more and found out that he had a diverse field of admirers - apart from Ellroy, William Styron and Quentin Tarantino (the latter more obviously) number among them.
No Beast So Fierce is the
Jan 01, 2015 Guy rated it it was amazing
Ed Bunker was Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs. That was when I first became aware of his existence. Then I did some research. So I have wanted to read something by him for quite a while now. The library only has his work in digital format. So I had to wait until I got a reader. Now I have a Kindle and I downloaded No Beast So Fierce. It is his first "novel." I use quotes because I am certain the work is autobiographical. Most of it. The ending obviously is fiction. This is a man who was in the system ...more
Mika Auramo
Edward Bunkerin rikosromaani on kivikovaksi keitettyä väkivaltadraamaa. Monelta osin omaelämäkerrallisia piirteitä sisältävä teos ei jätä lukijaansa kylmäksi.

Päähenkilö on Bunkerin oloinen Max Dembo, joka vapautuu vankilasta kärsittyään kahdeksan vuoden tuomion. Eletään 1960-luvun Los Angelesissa, ja karu ehdonalaisuus odottaa paatunutta rikollista ja väärentäjää.

Todellisuus iskee rajusti entistä linnakundia, ja hänen valvojansa nöyryyttää minkä kerkiää. Entisistä ympyröistä ei tunnu olevan palu
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Edward Heward Bunker was an American author of crime fiction, a screenwriter, and an actor.
He wrote numerous books, some of which have been adapted into films.
Bunker was a bright but troublesome child, who spent much of his childhood in different foster homes and institutions.
He started on a criminal career at a very early age, and continued on this path throughout the years, returning to prison
More about Edward Bunker...

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“This was the Mecca of the American Dream, the world that everyone wanted. A world of sleek young women (allied with Slenderella to be so) in shorts and halters, driving 400-horsepower station wagons to air-conditioned, music-serenaded supermarkets of baby-sitter corporations and culture condensed into Great Books discussion groups. A life of barbecues by the swimming pool and drive in movies open all year. It did't appeal to me. Fuck health insurance plans and life insurance. They wanted to live without leaving the womb. It made me more alive to play a game without rules against society, and I was prepared to play it to the end. A tremor almost sexual passed through me as I anticipated the comming robbery.” 12 likes
“My letters seeking a job, though truthful, diminished the full truth. Face would blanch if the facts had been complete: "Dear Sir," I thought. "Do you have a position for a journeyman burglar, con man, forger and car thief; also with experience as armed robber, pimp, card cheat and several other things. I smoked marijuana at twelve (in the 40's) and shot heroin at sixteen. I have no experience with LSD and methedrine. They came to popularity since my imprisonment. I've buggered pretty young boys and feminine homosexuals (but only when locked up away from women). In the idiom of jails, prisons and gutters (some plush gutters) I'm a motherfucker! Not literally, for I don't remember my mother. In my world the term, used as I used it, is a boast of being hell on wheels, outrageously unpredictable, a virtuoso of crime. Of course by being a motherfucker in that world I'm a piece of garbage in yours. Do you have a job?” 6 likes
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