The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld

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Vintage Books, Jul 1, 2008 - History - 366 pages
11 Reviews

The basis of Martin Scorcese's acclaimed 2003 film, The Gangs of New York is a dramatic and entertaining glimpse at a city's dark past.

Focusing on the saloon halls, gambling dens, and winding alleys of the Bowery and the notorious Five Points district, The Gangs of New York dramatically evokes the destitution and shocking violence of a turbulent era, when colorfully named criminals like Dandy John Dolan, Bill the Butcher, and Hell-Cat Maggie lurked in the shadows, and infamous gangs like the Plug Uglies, the Dead Rabbits, and the Bowery Boys ruled the streets. A rogues' gallery of prostitutes, pimps, poisoners, pickpockets, murderers, and thieves, Herbert Asbury's whirlwind tour through the low life of nineteenth-century New York has become an indispensible classic of urban history.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Tyllwin - LibraryThing

History, though not scholarly history, he's telling (mostly) true stories, but it's stories and not footnoted historical material. Written eighty-some-odd years ago, the writing holds up surprising well, though from time to time a bit purple and incorrect for modern tastes. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mzonderm - LibraryThing

When reading a book written some time ago, it's important to remember that standards and tastes may have been different back then. Such is the case here. It's entirely possible (in this case, likely ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Herbert Asbury, an early 20th-century journalist, made a name for himself by documenting the gangs, pimps, prostitutes, and thieves that thrived in the underbellies of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and New Orleans. His works, still in print after seventy-five years, are often hailed as the best snapshots of their time period. The Gangs of New York was the basis of Martin Scorcese's 2003 film.

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