The Gangs of New York

The Gangs of New York

An Informal History of the Underworld

Paperback - 2001
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The Gangs of New York has long been hand-passed among its cult readership. It is a tour through a now unrecognizable city of abysmal poverty and habitual violence cobbled, as Luc Sante has written, "from legend, memory, police records, the self-aggrandizements of aging crooks, popular journalism, and solid historical research." Asbury presents the definitive work on this subject, an illumination of the gangs of old New York that ultimately gave rise to the modern Mafia and its depiction in films like The Godfather. "A universal history of infamy [that] contains all the confusion and cruelty of the barbarian cosmologies...."--Jorge Luis Borges "The tale is one of blood, excitement and debauchery."--The New York Times Book Review "The Gangs of New York is one of the essential works of the city...."--Luc Sante, The New York Review of Books
Publisher: New York : Thunder's Mouth Press ; [Emeryville, Calif.] : Distributed by Publishers Group West, [2001].
ISBN: 9781560252757
Characteristics: xvi, 366 pages :,illustrations ;,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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