In its approach and style, Gavin Knight’s Hood Rat follows the New Journalism that revolutionised the form in the 1960s. Suddenly reporters were bringing the techniques of fiction to broadsheet writing, and in the process experiencing the lives of the subjects they wrote about. For two years Knight, a seasoned broadsheet journalist, has been privy to the turf wars that define gang culture within three of Britain’s major cities: London, Manchester and Glasgow. It’s a world in which a mother marks her son’s adolescence by presenting him with a machete (‘We can’t protect you. You have to protect yourself’); a world where a fourteen-year-old can become a gang leader – a ‘general’. It’s the age of those initiated into this culture that shocks and stays, long after reading Knight’s fast-paced tract. This book is not only a disturbing, significant portrait of the present, but a snapshot of Britain’s future if this trend continues to escalate.
In the last decade there has been a shift within gang culture itself. Previously it was dominated by drug dealers heading up gangs in which a rising generation of members were exploited. Now, according to Hood Rat, the drug trade has become fragmented and all that’s left is