The Gangs of New York

The Gangs of New York

An Informal History of the Underworld

Book - 1927
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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.

Publisher: New York : Thunder's Mouth Press, c1927, [2001]
ISBN: 9780307388988
Branch Call Number: 364.106 ASB 2001
Characteristics: xvi, 366 p. : ill. ; 22 cm


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Dec 16, 2015

Well-known now thanks to Scorsese's movie, the book deserves to be rediscovered for its own merits and as a classic of underworld stories. Scorsese only borrowed a few elements (Bill the Butcher, the draft rtots) from this byzantine, bloody and sometimes comic collection of anecdotes, legends and tales of all manner of criminals, from con artists to killers to gang leaders. It has a pungent, disreputable energy and Asbury offers no social commentary or moral judgements. It also evokes a nearly vanished New York City, giving the seedy, violent stories a slight poignancy.

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