Thugs follows the adventures of Bill, an American writer in England, as he explores the world of soccer hooligans, "the lads" whose explosions of violence have fascinated and shocked onlookers for years. Setting himself the task of understanding why young men in England riot and pillage in the name of sports fandom, Bill travels deep into a culture both horrific and hilarious. His journey takes him from the pubs of London to the stadiums of northern England and the streets of Europe. Along the way Bill gets to know the lads—Steamin''Sammy; Roy Downes, recently out of prison, who surveys an assemblage of thugs "like a general inspecting his troops"; and Mick, Bill's first guide to hooliganism, an epic drinker and "quite simply the most repellent human being I'd ever seen in my life." In their company, Bill witnesses acts of violence so brutal and senseless they seem like real-life examples of the ultraviolence practiced by Alex and his droogs in A Clockwork Orange. But rather than being repelled by the thugs' casual viciousness, Bill is fascinated, and his investigation draws him ever further into the hooligan's world. Weeks of research turn into months, and then years. The act of observing begins to turn into something more sinister, as Bill begins to uncover some dark truths about the lads—and himself.