Book Review; Original Gangster by Frank Lucas & Aliya King
From Prohibition which brought us Capone and mobsters sporting comically dangerous aliases such as Jimmy Blue Eyes, Joe Bananas, and Vinnie the Butcher the mobster has been portrayed as a loveable rogue merely providing a much-needed service to the public, complete with violent killings and Italian accents.
Move on from this era and we hit the sixties and seventies where a lot of the ‘rules’ of being a gangster remained, but the landscaped changed, and the key currency on the street moved from booze to heroin, and the master of this domain was a 6-foot tall New York negro from the south named Frank Lucas.
Lucas didn’t need a fancy name, and for the greater part of his million-dollar a day earnings he didn’t need it. He was well-known to everyone on the street, was friends with big names such as Sammy Davis and Joe Louis, but until a weak moment during the Ali-Frazier fight in NYC, he was completely unknown to enforcement officers in the FBI, DEA and such.
This book is a fascinating look into one America’s most prolific drug importers. From his youth and the Ku Klux Klan, to stealing off the streets, and working for the then undisputed king of the Big Apple, Lucas lays his life on the table for all while setting the record straight, dispelling many rumors and misrepresented facts (e.g. importing heroin within the bodies of Vietnam servicemen being returned Stateside) to his involvement in bringing down corrupt cops.
The book is violent at times, subtle and humourous as well. But at no time are you left wondering what this guy wanted to achieve, and achieve he did. How he wasn’t killed is anyone’s guess, and that in itself is a testament to the guy.
As a fan of the movie genre I am looking forward to watching ‘American Gangster’ with Denzil Washington, and as this clip shows, fiction, and Hollywood as well, has a way of pulling the wool over your eyes as the book does not recount this incident (and wasn’t his MO as a rule)…but no doubt a must see if taken with a grain of salt. The book spells it out better…