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Publisher's Summary

In his own words, real life American Gangster Frank Lucas recounts his life as the former heroin dealer and organized crime boss who ran Harlem during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Determined to break the Italian mafia’s monopoly over drug smuggling in New York, Frank cut out middlemen and began smuggling heroin into the United States directly from his source in Vietnam using the coffins of dead American soldiers. Making $1 million per day from his "Blue Magic", the purest heroin on the street, Frank Lucas became one of the most powerful crime lords of his time, while rubbing shoulders with the elite in entertainment, politics, and crime. This powerful memoir reveals what really happened to the man whose rise and fall was dramatized in the 2007 feature film American Gangster, exposing a startling look at the world of organized crime.
Frank Lucas is a former heroin dealer and organized crime boss who operated in Harlem during the 1960s and 1970s whose career was the focus of the 2007 film American Gangster.
Aliya S. King was co-author of the New York Times best-seller Keep the Faith. She has held editorial positions with Billboard and The Source. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Essence, Ms., Vibe, Vibe Vixen, Uptown, CMJ: New Music Monthly, Teen People, Black Enterprise, and many others. She is currently a senior writer for Giant magazine and a contributing editor for Upscale magazine.
©2010 Frank Lucas with Aliya S. King (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc., and Buck 50 Productions, LLC
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Critic Reviews

“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….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.” ( Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Linda Lou on 06-01-13


I loved the movie "American Gangster". However, its success was due more to restrained intelligent acting of Denzel Washington, along with a great supporting cast (T.I., Idris Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Russell Crowe, Cuba Gooding Jr., and the great "Dame" Ruby Dee). Here we are just stuck with the country, ignorant Frank Lucas, telling lies, covering up the truth, not revealing names, wasting my money!!!! Narrator Cary Hite reads like a 6 year-old and his "Asian" and "white" dialects are insulting and racist. Frank Lucas was disrespectful of his fellow criminals, the public, law enforcement, the women in his life and his children. Where is his beloved mother who was a big part of the movie (Ruby Dee)? Lucas just rambles on and on, dropping celebrity names, bragging about stupid stuff that no one with any sense would. He refused to name the man who allegedly sold him the heroin in Thailand, calling him "007" (really, Frank?). However, he had no trouble throwing music genius Barry Gordy and, according to Lucas, Gordy's "mistress", the incomparable Diana Ross under the bus. In this account, he claims not to know if his boss Bumpy Johnson was in the drug business, claiming "omerta" , like a Mafia wife. I'm inclined to believe what Bumpy's widow, the late Mayme Hatcher Johnson, said about Lucas in her book, "Harlem Godfather: The Rap on My Husband, Ellsworth "Bumpy" Johnson". "Frank wasn't nothing but a flunky, and one that Bumpy never did really trust," says Johnson. "Bumpy would let Frank drive him around, but you'd better believe that he was never in any important meetings or anything. He would say, you can trust a thief quicker than a liar, because a thief steals money because he needs money, but a liar lies for the hell of it!" That pretty much sums up this book!

Now I will give Lucas some slack for being a sociopath. As a very young child, he witnessed his young cousin getting his head blown off by the shotgun of several KKK members for the alleged "reckless eyeballing" of a white woman. That kind of senseless violence to African-Americans and black Americans has been proven to affect the development of a criminal mind with no empathy for anyone or anything. However, as the mother of a black male, this is not a book I would allow him to read - even at age 30 - much less as an impressionable teenager. I'm not saying that every black kid has to emulate President Barack Obama but Frank Lucas is barely on the edge of the other side of the spectrum.

NOTE: I actually met Frank Lucas after being asked to a private party at a club by one of his forgettable country brothers while I was on a trip to Harlem at the time I was attending Howard University as a Theater major. He had none of the grace and dignity that Denzel gave him in the film. He was country, with a drawl so thick that I couldn't understand a word he said. He was not good-looking or well-dressed - just COUNTRY!!! This book portrays the REAL Frank Lucas - "American Wanksta"!!!! Yeah, I said it! Ehhh, what?!

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13 of 16 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By B Rose on 10-14-15

Great book!

Although Frank Lucas did some horrible things in his early life, this is such an amazing story about his life. He dedicates the book to all those he harmed and their families. The narration is terrific! Well worth the time!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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