Is the movie American Gangster (2007) based on a true story?

Avery Davis Avery Davis May 10, 2023 · 2 mins read
Is the movie American Gangster (2007) based on a true story?
Share this

Yes, American Gangster is based on the true story of Frank Lucas, a notorious heroin dealer in Harlem in the 1970s, and the efforts of Detective Richie Roberts to bring him to justice.

What is the true story behind the movie American Gangster (2007)?

The movie American Gangster (2007) is loosely based on the life of Frank Lucas, a notorious drug lord in Harlem during the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, there are several discrepancies between the movie and Lucas’s actual life.

Lucas was born in North Carolina in 1930 and moved to Harlem as a young man. He began his criminal career by working for the infamous New York gangster Bumpy Johnson, who mentored Lucas and eventually passed on his criminal empire to him.

Lucas gained notoriety for his innovative approach to the drug trade. He traveled to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and personally smuggled pure heroin back to the United States in the coffins of dead servicemen. He then processed the heroin himself, cutting out middlemen and selling it at a lower price than his competitors.

Lucas was eventually arrested in 1975 and sentenced to 70 years in prison. However, he cooperated with law enforcement and provided information that helped convict several corrupt NYPD officers and other drug lords. He was released from prison in 1991 after serving 15 years.

The movie American Gangster takes several creative liberties with Lucas’s story, including the character of Richie Roberts, the detective who brings Lucas down. In reality, Roberts was only peripherally involved in Lucas’s case and did not have the central role portrayed in the movie.

Are there any books about the true story behind the movie American Gangster (2007)?

Yes, there are several books about the true story behind the movie American Gangster (2007):

  1. The “American Gangster” True Story: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Real Frank Lucas by Cathy Scott

  2. The Return of Superfly: The True Story of America’s Disco Kingpin by Mark Jacobson

  3. Original Gangster: The Real Life Story of One of America’s Most Notorious Drug Lords by Frank Lucas

  4. The Devil’s Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square by James Traub

  5. The Cocaine Chronicles by Gary Phillips

  6. Bumpy Johnson: The Life and Times of Harlem’s Notorious Godfather by Justin Gifford

  7. Black Caesar: The Rise and Dispersion of Frank Matthews, Kingpin by Ron Chepesiuk

  8. The Last Good Heist: The Inside Story of The Biggest Single Payday in the Criminal History of the Northeast by Tim White.

You can try an audible free trial and search for audiobook versions of those

Avery Davis
Written by Avery Davis
Unleashing potential with passion and purpose.