Original Gangster: The Real Life Story of One of America's Most Notorious Drug Lords

Frank Lucas, Author, Aliya S. King, With with Aliya S. King. St. Martin's $25.99 (310p) ISBN 978-0-312-54489-8

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)

Reviewed on: 04/19/2010
Release date: 06/01/2010
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