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Original Gangster: The Real Life Story of One of America's Most Notorious Drug Lords Paperback – August 16, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (August 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031257164X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312571641
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From a sharecropper's shack in North Carolina to the top of Harlem's drug trade, Lucas recounts his eventful life in vivid detail. After witnessing his cousin's murder by the Klan in 1936, Lucas began stealing food for his family at age six, graduated to assault and robbery, and made his way to Harlem in 1944 at age 14. Smart and ruthless, he became the right-hand man of notorious gangster Bumpy Johnson, who controlled numbers rackets around the city. After Johnson's death in 1968, Lucas began his drug empire. He cut out the middleman (importing from Southeast Asia a heroin so pure it was nicknamed Blue Magic). Law enforcement finally caught up with him in 1975. Sentenced to 40 years, Lucas only served six after agreeing to identify some crooked cops. Lucas finally told his story to a journalist and in 2007 the movie American Gangster, based on his life, was released. With journalist King's aid, Lucas is a straightforward yet compelling narrator, never making excuses for his life of crime, though he has come to regret it. 8 pages of color photos. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Lucas wasn’t the first guy to grow up dirt poor and rise to riches and fame through a life of crime, but arguably he did so bigger and badder than just about anybody else. He opens his autobiography recalling how, at age six, he watched as an older cousin had a double-barreled shotgun shoved down his throat preparatory to blowing the back of his head off. That dirty deed, retribution for “eyeballing a white girl,” was carried out by three men, “perfect examples of what you would call rednecks.” Perhaps needless to say, the incident stayed with Lucas, animating his cold vision of how to succeed in the world. He became a New Jersey-based drug kingpin and a gangster of the highest pedigree. Like Al Capone before him, he even inspired a Hollywood feature, American Gangster. His may hardly be a novel story, but with King’s help, he tells it bluntly and with integrity. He doesn’t try to exonerate himself but seems to recount his deeds with ruthful honesty. Great gangsta stuff. QY: Add subtitle to bib data? “The Real Life Story of One of America’s Most Notorious Drug Lords” --Mike Tribby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Excellent book, great for a weekend read.
MrNYCO
A good writer will make you feel like you are sitting across the table listening to him tell his story.
Craig Connell
This movie was one of my favorite film & wanted to read the book.
Sweet_Sunshine

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jim Wilson on April 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is Frank Lucas' memoir. If you have followed his tale from the New Yorker article by Marc Jacobson that started all the Frank Lucas hoopla you can see that from the article to the movie American Gangster which it inspired to the book deal which he finally got (allegedly for $50,000) to write this book the story changes dramatically from one to another as Lucas' claims have been refuted and investigated by others. The book is decent but it is his account which has come to be seen as largely fictional. But as a straight drug dealer, black gangster novel it is ok if you are into that type of thing but there are much better ones on the market. If you want to read more about Frank Lucas and his era check out Sergeant Smack by Ron Chepesiuk and Gangsters of Harlem by the same author. Also Bumpy Johnson's widow wrote a book called Harlem Godfather which puts a lot of Lucas' claims that he was Bumpy Johnsons right hand man into question. But don't let me tell you, buy and read the books and you be the judge. Also check some old F.E.D.S. issues for stories and interviews with Leroy Nicky Barnes who was also a big dealer from that era and who is talked about in Lucas' book and Frank Matthews whose story is profiled in Easy Money and Street Legend Vol. 2 and a new DVD by Al profit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roger Thornhill on May 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you have an interest in the (so called) War on Drugs, this book is an eye opener. My interest was to find Mr Lucas's comments on the complisity of the US Air Force in transporting heroin from South East Asia to the United States. Apparently, very high ranking military people can be & were bribed to provide the air trasnportation for Mr Lucas's drug business although evidentally none were ever identified. So, since the growing of the opium poppy has boomed in Afganistan, post Taliban rule, the question you have to ask yourself is: who provides the transportation of heroin from there to the US now? I doubt it goes out by mule train.

Yes, Mr Lucas is a criminal but it is doubtful he has any reason to lie about his methods & out sourcing delivery to the military.
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By Sweet_Sunshine on April 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This movie was one of my favorite film & wanted to read the book. Loved it!!! Defiantly a good read!!
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By Tail 'n' Jess on January 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not a bad book good read a lot of info from before what you see in American gangster not bad
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By Darlies L. Jones on December 29, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the true story of Frank Lucas and not the Hollywood version. The writer did an excellent job of delivering his story. I knew there were black gangsters in the early days, but they were never written about. I'm not praising them. I just wanted to read about some of their lives. Another good True Crime book to read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book!! I loved the movie more before I read the book . . . And it made everything so much more understandable . . . You actually got everything from the beginning to the end where the movie just started in the middle and didn't tell you everything . . .
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midnight Toker on September 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I don't have anything invested in whether Frank Lucas is a liar or not, just the price of the book. To be perfectly honest, the time line and events lend themselves to the story being mostly factual. I've read Mayme Johnson's book as well as several others and it makes perfect sense that Frank Lucas's situation with Bumpy is authentic. From the way he seems to be kept at arms length by Bumpy, and at a later time frame, fit's perfectly with him being picked as a driver AFTER the Flash Walker episode. It seems likely that Frank Lucas probably embellished things a bit. But like I said, I have nothing invested in whether he does or not. I do know that he is a very interesting character with a very eventful life. That's a fact. Although I prefer to read more about the day to day street workings of criminals rather than someone eventually far removed from it, it was still a good read, especially the first three quarters of the story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Frank Lucas is Gangsta!! I can't get enough of his stories. The film, though it was great should have been 2-3 movies long because there is just so much to his life.
I hope I can meet him before he passes.
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