Thief-Taker General: Jonathan Wild and the Emergence of Crime and Corruption As a Way of Life in Eighteenth-Century England (Google eBook)

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Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 1985 - History - 338 pages
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The historical literature of political deviance is sparse. This unusual work, chronicling the history of Jonathan Wild, represents an effort to come to terms with one of the more amazing characters of English social history. Wild was both part of the policy system in eighteenth-century England, and also one of the most adroit criminals of the age. In the 1720s, London suffered the worst crime waves in its history. Civic corruption took place on a staggering scale. The government's answer was to pay a bounty for the capture of robbers, thus creating a class of professional informers.

Wild was applauded as the most efficient thief hunter and gang breaker in British society; but his own posse of thief catchers was basically a front behind which he was able to control the underground world, through a complex system of blackmail, perjury, and terror which the book details. All who opposed him were betrayed to the law, and in the struggle for power Wild sacrificed several hundred of his own people to the hangman. No one since his time, with the exception of Lavrenti Beria of the late Stalin era GPU so nearly succeeded in bringing the underworld under the control of one system of power.

At one level, this is a biography of the world's first supercriminal. At another, it is a sociology of criminal behavior and its political consequences. Howson sheds fresh light, not only on a figure who has become famous in literature, but more important, on the entire structure of gang life. The book is written "as a "terrifying and fascinating study of a historical epoch; it also offers a completely fresh picture of the birth of modern organized-crime families as part of modern organized political systems.

  

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Excellent source of information not only for Jonathan Wild but also for early eighteenth century crime in London. Howson provides a great deal of context regarding the culture that gave rise to one of London's most notorious criminals.

Contents

I
3
II
10
III
21
IV
34
V
44
VI
49
VII
57
VIII
66
XVIII
187
XIX
207
XX
227
XXI
237
XXII
239
XXIII
254
XXIV
268
XXV
279

IX
74
X
81
XI
91
XII
100
XIII
115
XIV
129
XV
145
XVI
156
XVII
171
XXVI
293
XXVII
303
XXVIII
306
XXIX
312
XXX
315
XXXI
317
XXXII
328
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