*Starred Review* To Americans, the English seem too polite, well spoken, and cute to be gangsters. But English gangsters there are, though plenty have Welsh, Irish, and immigrant surnames. The younger ones could be any European or North American country's modern mobsters, and the old guys look just like Luciano and other old mafiosi. Photojournalist Hogg ran with them for two years, and he presents them in brutal black-and-white in a classy oversize volume whose black pages and binding give it the aura of a glamorous charnel house. The first and last images in the book depict the interments of the last two of the notorious Kray brothers. In between, the Krays' remaining colleagues, their successors, and assorted henchmen appear. They are mostly big, beefy men, fond of model-like women who don't mind baring a breast on a regular basis. If the oldsters stick to tailored suits, the youngsters affect celebrity duds, jewelry, shaved heads, and tattoos. The latter revel in publicity, and two batches of photos show one especially genial tough on tour with his new book. The island of Tenerife has become a refuge when the heat is on, and another stunning sequence shows a bare-knuckle boxer and henchman romping there while the matter of a knifed opponent cools down. Author-hood and boxer-hood each contributes his story to the book's sparse commentary, and the other commentators, even the nongangsters, prove as enthralling, not least for comparing this lot of toughs to King Arthur's Round Table gang at one end of England's history and the Windsor bunch at the other. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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From the Publisher
From their nightclubs and strip-joints, to their boardrooms and bathrooms, these portraits of the underworld reflect the masonry of London's East End, where members are elected for their very particular prowess and skills. Old-fashioned rules apply: friends and family first, no swearing in front of the ladies, and, above all, never grass. This network extends across the country. It is about freedom and incarceration, loyalty and betrayal, violence and camaraderie.
But things are changing for the British gangster. Ex-KGB mafiosi are taking over areas such as prostitution, gambling and drugs; the surviving Kray confederates are writing their memoirs and making personal appearances at film premieres and book signings. The new breed like Dave Courtney are taking every opportunity to use the media for self-publicity, giving lectures across the country, writing autobiographies and film scripts.
These photographs capture every facet of the life of the modern villain: from public appearances to mysterious 'disappearances'; from members-only bare-knuckle fights to the astonishingly huge popular appeal of a Kray family funeral.
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