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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?!
12 of 14 people found this review helpful
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!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful