Milo Books

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At the turn of the twentieth century, Liverpool was a thriving seaport at the heart of the British Empire. But the haphazard nature of casual dock work and an influx of poor immigrants looking for jobs meant it was also a city stricken by grinding poverty, crime and disease.

In the wake of the dreaded High Rip Gang there emerged smaller and more disparate, but equally ruthless, groups of street thugs who terrorised both the law-abiding and the lawless. The Ladder Gang, the Racing Boys and the Black Hand Gang were just some who revelled in the fear evoked by their names. They were joined by girl gangs, burglars, safe-blowing teams and sectarian mobs who fought out religious rivalries in the city’s rookeries.

World War Two saw massive exploitation of the docks and the arrival of black marketeering and true gangsterism, hand in hand with an explosion in youth crime: by 1946 the city had 86 juvenile gangs, with names like the Skull and the Snake Eyes, many of them living virtually beyond the law. New terrors such as the Peanut and Swallow Gangs emerged, eventually to be followed in the 1950s by the Teddy Boys, who sought a common identity through a shared love of music and fashion; and territorial youth gangs such as the Park Lane Gang who could hold an entire district to ransom.

The sequel to the acclaimed ‘The Gangs of Liverpool’, shortlisted for the Portico Prize for Literature, Tearaways is a compelling criminal history of Liverpool gangs from the 1890’s to the mid 1960s, a period that saw the birth of socialism, race riots, two world wars, economic depression, a general strike and massive technological change.

About the author

Michael Macilwee has lived in Liverpool all his life. He has worked as a senior research librarian in the Liverpool Moore’s University library for nearly twenty years and has contributed to numerous academic journals. He has an MA in Victorian Literature and a PhD in American Literature. His first book, The Gangs of Liverpool was shortlisted for the Portico Prize for Literature in 2006. He is currently working on a third book.

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