The Racetrack Gangs

The Racetrack Gangs written by Dick Kirby and published by Pen & Sword Books – £15.99 – Softcover – Pages 256

Between the two World Wars, there was a dramatic upsurge of violence as rival criminal gangs vied for rich pickings from bookmakers at racetracks throughout England.

With ready access to cash, ‘bookies’ were a magnet for mobsters’ blackmailing demands. Refusal to pay resulted in severe punishment. Their justified fears spawned a ready ‘protection’ market.

Conflict between rival gangs were frequent and increasingly violent. Charles ‘Darby’ Sabini with his brothers ran ‘The Italian Mob’ who clashed with Billy Kimber and his Brummagen Hammers.

I have to admit that I didn’t really enjoy this book, which is a bit of a puzzle because I enjoy true crime books and find them very intriguing. But this book just seemed a little or dull or maybe it was just the way it was written. As I normally read non fiction history books I think my way of reading and what I get from a book is now different. But being positive, just because I didn’t enjoy the book doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good book because the detail is certainly there and the tussles and acrimony between the various gangs and gang leaders was interesting to read. In fact I didn’t really know this upheaval was happening. A friend had mentioned the book was a bit in the style of Peaky Blinders, the trouble is I didn’t like that either, maybe I associated that with the book. But overall it’s a very good book and well written because of all the crimes, gangs and people, it just wasn’t for me for some reason.

Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.

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