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Okay, the cover of this book is truly awful, but please please please don’t let that put you off reading it.

Among the Hoods is an account of Daily Mail and Times writer Harriet Sergeant’s three years with a South London gang. I had my reservations when I picked up this book, thinking it was going to be a tedious middle England reaction to yoof culture. I was wrong. Yes, at times you pull your hair out at how naively it reads but beyond that lies an interesting and important analysis of Britain’s lost youth. Far from defending gang culture Sergeant looks at what leads young teenagers into a life of crime, what drives them from education and why the future of so many seems so inevitably bleak.

Faber and Faber/Hardback/£14.99/9780571289172

Dave Faulds