A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York

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W. W. Norton & Company, Aug 17, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 480 pages
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"A remarkable tale."—Chicago Tribune

In George Appo's world, child pickpockets swarmed the crowded streets, addicts drifted in furtive opium dens, and expert swindlers worked the lucrative green-goods game. On a good night Appo made as much as a skilled laborer made in a year. Bad nights left him with more than a dozen scars and over a decade in prisons from the Tombs and Sing Sing to the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he reunited with another inmate, his father. The child of Irish and Chinese immigrants, Appo grew up in the notorious Five Points and Chinatown neighborhoods. He rose as an exemplar of the "good fellow," a criminal who relied on wile, who followed a code of loyalty even in his world of deception. Here is the underworld of the New York that gave us Edith Wharton, Boss Tweed, Central Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
 

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A pickpocket's tale: the underworld of nineteenth-century New York

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At a time when hagiographic works on such figures as Franklin and Jefferson have come back into vogue, Gilfoyle (history, Loyola Univ., Chicago;City of Eros ) sheds light on an entirely different ... Read full review

Contents

The Trials of Quimbo Appo
3
A House of Refuge at Sea
30
Factories for Turning Out Criminals
42
The Guns of Gotham
59
Drafted
73
Opium Dens and Bohemia
81
The Old Homestead
98
The Dives
110
That Galling Yoke of Servitude
157
Danny Driscoll and the Whyos
178
The Finest Crook
315
Acknowledgments
325
Appendixes
331
Notes
337
Illustration Credits
435
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About the author (2007)

Timothy J. Gilfoyle is an acclaimed historian. His first book, City of Eros, won the prestigious Nevins Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians. He is professor of history at Loyola University in Chicago.

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