One Blood

One Blood was published in 2008, under the pen-name John Heale. Ostensibly, it’s a sociological survey of the street gangs of Britain, but the book takes in many more themes – the failure of the education system, the evolution of the city, the role of the police, statutory and voluntary agencies, and much more. In 2012 it was republished with a new chapter on the London riots of 2011.

 

‘Heale’s style is to weave sociological analysis with the first-hand testimonies of gang members in their own words. Thus the book’s triumph is the authenticity that runs through every page, the sense that we are up close with the reality of gang life beyond the headlines – its casual violence, petty dramas and often mind-numbing banality.’ Carol Midgley, The Times

 

‘The question is, is this a good book? No. It’s a brilliant book. If you, as the reader, want to gain knowledge of some of the darker places in our nation, One Blood provides the window. Above all, Heale displays a real understanding of the complex make-up of gangs and those involved. There is so much quality information in this book that it is impossible to highlight it all here. I recommend you read it.’ Shaun Bailey, Evening Standard

 

‘A thoughtful book. Heale’s investigation couldn’t be more timely or more urgent.’ Lynsey Hanley, Daily Telegraph.

 

‘One of the strengths of Heale’s book is that it is carefully calculated not to be shocking. He talks to many gang members and former members, but is never voyeuristic. He scrupulously avoids what the academic Dominic White refers to as “the journey into the spectacle and carnival of crime”. It is a welcome relief from the majority of journalistic coverage, which seems only interested in angelic victims and evil perpetrators.’ Deborah Orr, Independent.

 

‘Heale never sensationalises, judges or empathises. Rather, he coolly and authoritatively exposes a social underclass which, having given up dreaming of something better, no longer much cares whether it lives or dies.’ Metro

 

‘In this timely, vividly written and absorbing book… Heale talks to gang members across the country, as well as police, psychologists and youth workers…scary depressing, important.’ The London Paper