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The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins
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The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,476 ratings  ·  118 reviews
Reggie and Ronald Kray ruled London's gangland during the 1960s with a ruthlessness and viciousness that shocks even now. This book has been expanded to include further material on such matters as Lord Boothby's close relationship with the killer twins.
Paperback, Revised and Updated 4th Edition, 336 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 1st 1972)
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Kelsey Robinson The Krays: The Prison Years by David Meikle & Kate Beal Blyth is a great book on the Krays.

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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,476 ratings  ·  118 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
”Although they were obviously identical twins, Reggie was very different--thinner, quicker, with a certain shifty charm. He made most of the conversation--which to tell the truth was slightly heavy going--speaking in a rapid, almost inaudible monotone. I noticed his right hand was bandaged. (He had cut his thumb rather badly murdering Jack ‘the Hat’ McVitie a few weeks earlier.)

‘How did you hurt yourself, Mr. Kray?’ I inquired brightly.

‘Gardenin’,’ he answered.”

 photo Krays_zps41486148.jpg

John Pearson, the writer of this
``Laurie Henderson
The Kray twins were definitely kray kray.
Rob Twinem
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rereading this book many years later I can't help but feel that Reggie Kray might have been quite a successful business man without the need to resort to crime in order to achieve what he felt was important in life, wealth and power. However he was the second half of a demented twin, and Ronnie's life was always going to end in sadness and violence. Reggie choose to support his brother and together they built an empire of crime which was doomed to disaster as the antics of the Krays became more ...more
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Being an identical twin myself, I got so much out of this book.

I found myself strangely attracted to reading this book as soon as I could get my hands on it. I saw the trailer for the new movie about the Kray twins and was immediately intrigued.

After searching online for a copy of this book, I found out it was out of print. I found a hardcover 1972 edition used for $18 and bought it straight away.

Growing up, they both got diphtheria and measles. Naturally, being twins, they both got the infectio
Thomas Amo
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
November 1989 while on a trip to London, doing some research for my novel "Silence" I picked up a book at the London Dungeon called "London, The Sinister Side" and there was a section devoted to "The Kray Twins" I became fascinated by their story. I quickly got on the phone and called fellow author and screenwriter Scott Cherney and said, I just learned about these guys called "The Kray Twins" I think this will make a great film!"
he said you're too late, Peter Medak is shooting the film right no
Melanie Zhang
Having watched Legend and found its premise fascinating, but its execution lacking, I was interested in reading more about the history of the Kray twins. Pearson's book is a very barefaced account - the Krays are interesting more for their rise than their fall, and after the initial excitement it's very much repetitive back-and-forth. It's not really Pearson's fault that the Kray history operates this way but still a little disappointing.
Nov 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I openly admit to reading this so I'd have some background on the upcoming Tom Hardy movie "Legend". The trailer makes it look Hollywood-slick in London, but I wanted to get a feel for the Kray twins as I'm an American and had never heard of them.

This was an interesting look at twins and asked some interesting questions.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating biography of twin brothers from modest beginnings; rising to the ranks of Britain's most famous organized criminals.
Lady ♥ Belleza
This book is a biography. It tells the life story of the Kray Twins (hereafter know as Twins). It is also true crime because the Twins were criminals.
Reggie and Ronnie Kray ruled London's 1960s gangland with a ruthlessness and viciousness that shocks, even today.

In the Introduction, John Pearson writes about meeting the Twins. They wanted him to write the true story of the Kray Twins.
'So much rubbish gets written about our sort of people that me an' Ron both think it's time the truth was told f
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I became interested in learning more about the Krays following the release of Legend and this book did not disappoint. Although feared by many during their reign, the twins are incredibly fascinating and it is quite incredible the things they got away with over quite a long span of time before their arrest.

A must read for fans of crime, British crime or just someone who has a fascination with these famous brothers.
Ellis Spicer
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
Really enjoyed this, was very interesting to look into East End history and gangsters. It's a topic that is particularly fascinating to me as my Nan's side of the family are richardsons from the area, the rival gang of the Kray brothers. I am curious as to whether we were related to them or our close proximity to them in the area during the period was coincidence. Will definitely investigate this further :)
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always been interested in the Krays. I was born and raised in Bermondsey and knew of the Krays and the Richardson gang, as I was in my early teens. There were one or two places that I wasn't allowed to hang around back then.

Having recently seen the latest movie on the Kray Twins, I decided to purchase the book. The book was all as good as the movie! Recommended.
Wilde Sky
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book describes the rise and fall of two London gangsters.

I'm not sure how much of the detail in this book was true, but it was fascinating (in a macabre way) and disturbing how ruthless / viscous individuals can prosper through fear.
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I would recommend this book to anyone who has even the slightest curiosity about the real story behind the Kray twins.

This book is fantastic.
Samantha Kilford
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-books
I was prompted to read this after seeing the trailer for Universal and Studio Canal's upcoming film Legend based upon this book and the true story of the rise and fall of London's most infamous and successful gangsters, Ronald and Reginald Kray, starring Tom Hardy as both the twins. (Note: I feel like the filmmakers definitely missed a beat not calling the movie 'Kray Kray', but whatever haha)

The book itself was a fascinating read and insight into the lifestyle that these two lived. As a reader
This is one of many books about the infamous Kray Twins and their exploits in 1960's London. There is another book out there by the same author that updates this one after the twins demise and that may be the better read of the two. One of the flaws in this book is that it doesn't bring everything up to date despite the fact that this book was reprinted electronically in 2013. It ends with a postscript after the trial but that was a written in 1995 when the twins were still alive and eligible fo ...more
Mar 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Sadly one of the most gripping books I've read in a very long time. In terms of a biography, the story of the Kray twins is pretty interesting, although what I found most fascinating was the relationship between them and how this affected them, and each of their lives individually. For example, Ronnie became increasingly mentally unstable and reckless in his violence, but although Reggie was more of a businessman and controlled in his decisions, there was never any question at all of him not abs ...more
Pat Gerber-Relf
I grew up just north of the main Bethnal Green Road in Norah Street. The Kray twins grew up just south of the main Bethnal Green road in Vallence Road. Did I know them personally - no my parents were law abiding citizens, although I believe my late aunt Lil did know Vi, who was their mother.
A lot has been written about them, the Robin Hoods of the East End of London, but they stole from eveyone if there was enough money and put it in their own pockets. They were brutal criminals, Ronnie even bei
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it

The Kray twins were 'the original East End villains', ruling London's East End of the 1950's and 60's . Born in 1933 in Hoxton, East London, from an early age, they were involved in armed robberies, arson, protection rackets, violent assaults including torture and finally, murders. The book outlines their early life including information on their parents and grandparents and their rise through the ranks of the criminals of London's East End. There were many things I didn't know - not having read
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
The truth behind Martina Cole's fiction. This was an incredible look into organized crime in London. A subject I never even knew existed before reading Cole. I was amazed to learn that celebrities hung out with gangsters there just as they did here in America. The crazy Kray Twins were often seen out partying with the likes of Judy Garland, Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson to name just a few. There used to be a code of silence in the East end as there was in America. But alas even gangsters have ...more
Sep 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Morrissey Swinging British 60's readers
While visiting do Londoners what Londoners do - and that was to track down every book I can find on the Twin Rulers of East London - and eventually West London - the mighty Kray Twins. Violent at their very heart, yet uber cool in a movie gangster way. The Krays were very much part of the London 60's culture as David Bailey, The Beatles, Andrew Loog Oldham, The Stones, Simon Napier-Bell and others.

What I found interesting about them is really their image. They were ruthless but at the same time
Oct 07, 2013 rated it liked it
It is fairly obvious that the author of The Profession Of Violence : The Rise And Fall Of The Kray Twins Mr. John Pearson liked and admired the Kray Twins, Ronnie and Reggie. He goes out of his way to condemn their crimes, but you can hear the admiration he had for these two men. I was drawn to this novel because I saw an episode of "Whitechapel" on the BBC America dealing with the London "mob" and the Kray's in particular. Before this, I had never heard of them, even though they had a reign of ...more
Tom Schulte
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this non-fiction history of the violent and unstable twin career criminals to cleanse my mind of the fantasy that is Little Legs Muscleman Of Soho. The author covers the rise of the twins from boxing and delinquency to protection rackets, nightclub proprietorship, and a pinnacle of international stock certificate scams in league with elements of the American mafia. The book is recent enough to discuss the middle-aged brothers' acclimation to prison life.
Alexandra Nunney
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always found the Kray twins very interesting, and this book perfectly recounts their rise and fall. It doesn't glamourise them but also doesn't shy away from talking about their (few) redeeming qualities such as their loyalty to each other, particularly Reggie's loyalty to Ronnie, which makes for a more factual story if that makes sense. You feel that nothing has been embellished to make them seem worse than they were, and that they actually were that awful.
I really enjoyed the insight that
Jevron McCrory
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This will be brief as I've read so much about the Krays and reviewed so much material, I feel like I've said it all before.

This is the DEFINITIVE book on the twins, as iconic as it is informative.

I know A LOT about the Krays and this told me tons I didn't know.

It's carefully paced, well written, dramatic without being manipulative and utterly exhausting with it's attention to detail. It's fame (the book alone) is well deserved.

Couple this with the Krays' own book (Our Story, with Fred Dinage) a
This is an excellently detail and fairly open look at the rise, dominance and fall of the Kray Twins from their childhood years through their teens into the years as kingpins of the West End. Pearson sifts through the rumours that surrounded them to uncover the truth behind the headlines. First written and published in the 1970s the original text has had certain references to Lord Boothby and his ties with the Krays but the added post script explains why this happened and what it meant for the b ...more
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Pearson shows his writing pedigree forging this page-turner narrative in the half-light of the Kray's London with its monstrous tangle of truths, half-truths, propaganda and legend.
His work represents probably the clearest window there will ever be on the brothers' criminal career and legacy, but as it is not a work of fiction and the Krays were very real, highly complex and secretive people, do not expect a coup de grâce denouement.
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-read
I found this book interesting but as it's told from a third party perspective it's a bit stale... didn't quite capture me and at times I found it a bit of a slow read. Although the twins are interesting themselves I didn't find the book very captivating... wasn't as in depth as I thought it would be. Almost like a newspaper story, didn't quite have a capturing story just the facts laid out... I thought I'd enjoy the book more than I did. Meh.
Carey Thring
Nov 06, 2014 rated it liked it
Although not particularly well written, the research and level of detail in this biography is impressive, and the (true) story is incredibly compelling. I rattled through this, wanting to know how and why the runaway train of the Kray twins criminal career took the course it did. It left me looking forward to the upcoming Tom Hardy film. Let's hope they don't screw it up.
Nov 16, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a brilliant novel, in that it did not romanticise, or glamorise anything that the Kray's did.
It was also very factual, which is something I did enjoy too: but has meant that I have it a 3 star rating as it got very boring and drab after reading it for a while. I did complete it, and did enjoy it, but wouldn't necessarily recommend it.
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John Pearson is a writer best associated with James Bond creator Ian Fleming. He was Fleming's assistant at the London Sunday Times and would go on to write the first biography of Ian Fleming, 1966's The Life of Ian Fleming. Pearson also wrote "true-crime" biographies, such as The Profession of Violence: an East End gang story about the rise and fall of the Kray twins.

Pearson would also become the