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One-Eyed Baz: The Story of Barrington ‘Zulu’ Patterson – Book Review

10 Apr

I felt compelled to write a review of ‘One Eyed Baz’ more than any book that I have read in recent years. Despite the menacing picture on the cover and genre that this book falls into, it flips the autobiographical crime book genre onto its head and gives the reader something that is gripping, stark and full of unflinching realism.

one-eyed-baz

Yes, it’s the story of a hard-man but at the same time it is not the tale of an exaggerated Superman. ‘Baz’ has the humility to admit where he went wrong and when he was beat, which gives his life story a sense of honesty, which is sometimes missing within this genre of literature.

Born ‘Barrington Patterson’ in the Midlands during the mid-60’s the narrator was up against the odds from the start. At a time when unemployment was high and racial tension was higher, Barrington’s formative years shaped what was to become the man that he is today – One not to be messed with but one to be trusted.

Blinded in one eye during childhood, after a his sister threw a can at him, Barrington Patterson suffered the tirades and taunts of other children before realizing the only way to curb the teasing was to hit back. You get an understanding throughout the book that this is the reason Barrington hates bullies so much, he takes a very personal stance on this matter. He took these taunts into later life and revenge lay on the back-burner for his tormentors, the fire rage was just starting to ignite.

The books memorable tales of class struggle and the musical culture of the late 70’s early 80’s are brutally candid and are perfectly succinct. This was a desperate time when the UK was on a knife’s edge of political and economic struggle and the music and culture reflected these times.

Barrington Patterson started chiseling out his fighting skills on the streets and football terraces and he found a group of friends and a football team for life.

Home and away, Patterson and the ‘Zulu Army’ (Birmingham City’s hooligan firm) took on any other hooligan gangs that fancied their chances. There were plenty of takers as football related violence was sweeping the country, as lads took to dressing and playing up at football grounds all over the UK. Patterson is honest enough to admit when he and his firm took a kicking and he still retains a sense of humour throughout.

Patterson watched Bruce Lee films as a child and this influenced his career path after his youthful exploits on the terraces. This also gave him the discipline and focus to steer him away from a life in prison and it also put money in the bank.

From Judo, to Kick-Boxing and then Mixed Martial arts, Barrington Patterson excelled in all of these fields and along with his 4 children this gave him a driving force which led him to winning at least two major titles in MMA. Remember Barrington achieved this with the use of only one eye. This never stopped Patterson believing in what he could achieve and is an inspiration to anyone facing a tough life challenge.

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Throughout the book friends of the author tell their version of events growing up, training and getting scrapes along the way with ‘Baz’. This form of narrative adds an extra dimension, as the stories’ characters get involved and tell their honest accounts that heighten the sense of realism already graphically prevalent throughout.

I read this book in less than 24hrs. I was gripped from the start. It’s not very often you pick up a book and get such an insight into a mind, a time, places, music, football and culture.

For that reason I honestly think this will become a classic in the crime genre. And trust me; I have only skimmed over the basics of the book here in this review. Pick up a copy and I promise you won’t put it down, as it’s a real page-turner and one I definitely will re-read.

Below is a selection of music that is suggested to go with this book.

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