Jacket for 'Villain’s Paradise: Britain’s Underworld from the Spivs to the Krays'

Villain’s Paradise: Britain’s Underworld from the Spivs to the Krays

By Donald Thomas

Published Jan 2010

A powerful new social history of the 1950s and 1960s – seen through the potent lens of its seemingly ubiquitous crime.

With the end of the war, new fears began to escalate. Armed robbers had brought home skills and weapons from commando training, and the battlefront seemed only to have moved closer to home. Teenage Teddy-boy razor gangs proliferated and youths casually stabbed one another to death in street fights and at dance halls. Billy Hill and Jack Spot slashed their way to underworld supremacy, while witnesses lost their memories. Ronnie Biggs, the £2.5 million Great Train Robbery and Brighton police corruption shook public complacency. By the mid-sixties we had lost the Ashes and exports had nose-dived but, when it came to safe-blowing, Britain seemed to lead the world. By 1970, crime had tripled. By the end of the century it would tripled again.

With the narrative sweep and eye for telling detail that was a hallmark of the The Victorian Underworld and An Underworld at War , Donald Thomas once again chronicles a history we might rather forget, through compelling stories we can’t live without.