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Rise of the footsoldier: 'in my game, the choice is a jail or a grave'
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Rise of the Footsoldier - In My Game, The Choice is a Jail or a Grave on Apple Books
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Having read a lot of gangster books, this one has stayed in my mind for a number of reasons. It is one of those that tries to make the author appear as the last of the tough guys. It kind of reminds me of John Alite's biographies. However, unlike Alite's books, I actually believe most of Leach's stories. It is also a desperate attempt to rehabilitate the Essex Boys Gang.
Lastly, he shamelessly sells his movie and his current "muscle business" - a thinly veiled concept of rent-a-thug.
The book ju Having read a lot of gangster books, this one has stayed in my mind for a number of reasons. The book jumps around as Leach goes on different tangents, and yet everything does come together. Despite his gratuitous use of colorful language I get the impression that he spent a great deal of time writing this book. In that sense, a thieves' honor seems to permeate the book. It is hard for Americans to consider the deaths of three gangsters to be culture-shocking; but in the UK where gang murders are no where near as common as in the US, it was sensational.
An inquiry into the victims led to the published stories of bodybuilders turned thugs for hire turned drug dealers turned community terrorists. Leach places himself square in the thick of things although he repeatedly denies trafficking in drugs. He acknowledges the terror, saying some of the guys turned evil at the very end when they became addicts.
But he also acknowledges that even before they were evil, they were fun-loving brutes who tended to scare people and destroy property all while having a good time. Of course, the book is also full of stories when they, especially Leach, fly into an instant rage of irrational intensity and violence. Looking back, Leach sums it up: roid rage.
Leach tells everything from his perspective. He does not try to discuss how other people came together. He simply says that everyone knew each other from "around. So much of the book was tied to this semi-legal activity that is evidence that Leach is both trying to sell himself and rehabilitate his former allies. They just protected party-goers and defused dangerous situations. You need hulking people not adverse to violence to ensure peace.
The skinny guy with a badge is no match for Leach's muscle. Interesting view of things. However, quasi-legal businesses employing quasi-legal gangsters led to a constant drumbeat of seeking new business. Readers can only read about doormen for so long before they dismiss Leach.
Leach's personal story was also fascinating because he began his violent career as a soccer hooligan. He adds some comedy by admitting the home team was not always the best; but he tried to make sure that the hooligans were the toughest around. It seems natural to both Leach and the reader that he slid into thug-for-hire business ventures. A vague bodyguard job became more when one of his fellow bodybuilders turned out to also have a head for business.
That was Tony Tucker, the leader of the Essex Boys. His business acumen, which Leach does not describe too well except repeating that he was the brains of the gang, led to a larger circle of muscular, steroid-popping, hair-trigger bullies and brutes who imposed themselves in gangland.
As Leach describes it, they were doormen pure and simple. Very successful, occasionally violent doormen. Readers may have some doubts that doormen earned enough money to drive Italian sports cars and vacation in exotic locales without worry for funds; but Leach is convincing. Overall, I enjoyed the stories. The dangers of being a foot soldier, even though Leach tries to reassure readers that he heads his own "firm," are clear. The shootings, stabbings, threats, late nights, and constant risks always kept him on edge.
Work and weight lifting were adrenaline boosting. Along the way, he discourages readers - probably alienates many - by selling his services and name dropping some clients and bragging about his piccadillos. But that is the real Carlton Leach, warts and all.
There is an endearing authenticity to this gangster story that is often lacking. Overall, I am hesitant to recommend it for the problems mentioned above. There is heavy bias in favor of the Essex Boys even as Leach tries to excuse them and redeem himself along the way.
Sure Tony Tucker tortured former friends and associates - but only at the end. No he would not deal drugs. It must have been Pat Tate who lured Tucker to the murderous rendezvous in Rettendon. Maybe Leach is right; but readers should get the story from less biased sources. If they are still interested, then Leach's story would be good additional reading. Leach's readers even have to decide in the end: was Leach a gangster? Was he a thug? He intentionally blurs the lines so often that readers may still wonder who were the Essex Boys? The film is better than the book. The book is written exactly how Carlton Leach talks plenty of cockney and excessive use of the c-word.
Not one for those easily offended. Excellent first hand account of a life of crime and order in one well wrote Carlton Fantastic book a life of crime that often pays with your life shows you can come through it a stronger person with people you have loved and lost along the way The. Aug 30, Cutts rated it it was ok. I quite liked the film so thought I would give this a trays it was cheap on iTunes. I don't want to be too harsh as Carlton might turn up round me gaff and give me a proper shoein ha ha.
Two stars for me View 1 comment. Loved it! Bar from a few boring chapters and my personal dislike of him keeping going on about one of the Essex Boys, I would reconmend this book to friends.