Review: Born Gangster by Jimmy Tippett Jr (4/5)

Tuesday, 12 August 2014
Jimmy Tippett Jnr was born into gangster aristocracy. Son of legendary boxer and South London heavy, Jimmy Tippett, he grew up rubbing shoulders with the most notorious faces in London. 

The result was a lifestyle amongst the criminal elite - and with an upbringing like Jimmy's, what could go wrong? He had the brains, the muscle and the balls to be a player, and when the work was done there were cars, cash, drugs, girls and high times. 

His reputation as a man never to be crossed was undisputed. But when Jimmy traveled deeper into the heart of the underworld, his judgement began to falter. Mired in cocaine and paranoia, his operation began to come off the rails. Friend and foe alike became targets, and the world he had known for so long threatened to tear him apart...

I have been fascinated by the London Underworld from a very young age, devouring anything to do with the Kray twins whilst growing up. Fortunately for people interested in this there is no shortage of books out there, however it is a case of finding the right ones. It seems anyone can write a book these days, long lost family members who have never met the person they talk about, journalists rehashing what has already been printed or people who were only ever on the outside looking in and sell their story for the £. Jimmy Tippett Jr definitely has a story that is worth reading and I absolutely loved it.

From birth right through to the present day the book is honest, brutal in places and bragging in others I still found myself liking Jimmy despite his many flaws and wondering how the hell he is still alive. Jimmy was always destined to become a gangster. The advice from his careers officer that he could be a librarian or a banker was never going to be given much consideration when he could make in a day what those two jobs would make him in a year. If your dad was constantly throwing the cash around and living an extravagant lifestyle then I guess it would be almost impossible for you to not want to do the same.

I loved some of the anecdotes about Jimmy growing up, especially Old Ma Tippett who despite only being mentioned briefly left an impression on my mind. And I especially love the admiration and respect that Jimmy has for his father. Yes ultimately these people are criminals but the more well known figures of the underworld have always lived by a strict set of morals and have been spoken highly of by and associated with celebrities, especially in the 60s. It's a world that people have always been fascinated by, glamorous on the outside we know that the real story is often very different. 

Reading the book I often had to sit back and remember that this was actually someone's life story I was reading and not another one of the thrillers I am particularly partial to reading. Jimmy became consumed by this world and it was ultimately his downfall. Spells in prison forced him to change his ways and he now appears to be on the straight and narrow. A very honest read and one of the best books the genre has to offer I definitely reccommend this book to true crime fans.

Buy on Amazon


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