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No Mean City

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  143 ratings  ·  12 reviews
No book is more associated with the city of Glasgow than No Mean City. First published in 1935, it is the story of Johnnie Stark, son of a violent father and a downtrodden mother, the 'Razor King' of Glasgow's pre-war slum underworld, the Gorbals. The savage, near-truth descriptions, the raw character portrayals, bring to life a story that is fascinating, authentic and con ...more
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Published 1959 by Corgi (first published 1935)
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John
My mother and father emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland after the end of WWII, and when I was a child in the 1970s, I recall going back to the "old country" every year or so to visit relatives. Through my preadolescent American eyes, Glasgow looked like something out of another era. Coal was still being used for household heating, milk was still delivered in glass bottles, everybody smoked either pipes or cigarettes, and dirty-faced little boys ran around the streets selling papers. My grandfather ...more
Claire
I first read this book as a 15 year old schoolgirl, preparing for my Highers and I was hooked instantly ! It describes the gritty Gorbals slums of the pre-war era (1920s/ 30s) and the razor gangs therein. The struggles of those who live in the slums and their desire to move onto better things and how they seem to be thwarted by the collective consciousness that you’re somehow a ‘snob’ if you want to get on in life. The only other choice for some is to ‘protect’ their territory and ‘prove’ their ...more
Stuart
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Mara Eastern
Unsavoury and sensational. An exercise in naturalism without artistic pretensions but of documentary interest.
Iain
A rather depressing book dealing with the dark side of Glasgow's slum world, in one of it's most infamous and toughest neighbourhoods, the Gorbals. Johnnie "the Razor King" Starks is the despicable gangster who loves to fight with razor blades and pummelling every woman in his life, a real charmer.

Glasgow has its hard history, and this book goes out of its way to glorify it.
Melanie
No book is more associated with the city of Glasgow than No Mean City. First published in 1935, it is the story of Johnnie Stark, son of a violent father and a downtrodden mother, the "Razor King" of Glasgow's pre-war slum underworld, the Gorbals. The savage, near-truth descriptions, the raw character portrayals, bring to life a story that is facinating, authentic and convincing
David Mclaughlan
Having grown up in Maryhill In Glasgow and spent 25 years in the city I recognise the culture but not the time. Glasgow has moved on but you could still find this aspect if you so wished. I love Glasgow it' is a hard city but with a big heart.
Cherlyn
Gritty & hopeless. I thought the story was quite fascinating and love the depictions of life in the slums. It was a real eye opener. The whole book left me feeling sad though.
Sleepy
Glasgow as it was, and sometimes still is. If you love hard city with a soft heart then you must read this classic book.
Hutchllama
Very interesting insight to Glaswegian culture in the 1920s and beyond.
Sue
One of my all time favorite reads.
Karen
Ugh, badly written and sensationalist.
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