A passionate and dramatic account of a year in the life of a city, when baseball and crime reigned supreme, and when several remarkable figures emerged to steer New York clear of one of its most harrowing periods.
By early 1977, the metropolis was in the grip of hysteria caused by a murderer dubbed “Son of Sam”. And on a sweltering night in July, a citywide power outage touched off an orgy of looting and arson that led to the largest mass arrest in New York’s history. As the turbulent year wore on, the city became absorbed in two epic battles: the fight between Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson and team manager Billy Martin, and the battle between Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo for the city’s mayoralty. Buried beneath these parallel conflicts - one for the soul of baseball, the other for the soul of the city - was the subtext of race. The brash and confident Jackson took every black myth and threw it back in white America’s face. Meanwhile, Koch and Cuomo ran bitterly negative campaigns that played upon urbanites’ fears of soaring crime and falling municipal budgets.
These braided stories tell the history of a year that saw the opening of Studio 54, the evolution of punk rock, and the dawning of modern SoHo. As the pragmatist Koch defeated the visionary Cuomo and as Reggie Jackson finally rescued a team racked with dissension,1977 became a year of survival but also of hope.
©2005 Jonathan Mahler (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
“Masterful.... In Mahler’s expert hands, the city’s outsized citizens are flawed, fierce, bickersome, and as indomitable as the metropolis itself.” (Mike Sokolove, author of The Ticket Out)
Thanks and respect to the women that served and paid a high price. You are still gorgeous Shi; your scars make you even more beautiful.
In the summer of 1977 I was a fresh HS graduate who didn't realize that his baseball career was doomed to meet a tragic end due to an accident of birth. My parents hadn't bequeathed me enough baseball talent to compete well on a higher level; this became apparent to me; as well as everyone else the following spring. The summer of 1977 however was a time for dreams and as I watched the season evolve I had my dreams, believing that I was only 1 step from the MLB level. In reality it was more like 101 steps from a mid sized college program to being the next Reggie Jackson.
It's been 39 years since the Summer of Sam, New York Blackout, and the return to the top of the New York Yankees but I still remember all the fallout from the Jackson signing, the Sport article, the dugout confrontation, and 'the straw that stirs the drink' quote by Reggie. Then the following year there was Billy Martin's drunken comment on Jackson and Steinbrenner; "one of them is a born liar and the other's convicted that ended the first of Martin's 5 stints as Yankees Manager. The author did a good job of highlighting the raging insecurities that drove Billy Martin to act out; this was particularly true when he was under the effects of alcohol.
The "Son of Sam" portion of the book was informative and I learned the details behind some of the generalities connected with the case. The amount of time and space devoted to did become distracting as the book came to a close, but it did end before it detracted from the overall tone of the book.
Unfortunately Mahler's extended coverage of the 1977 New York Mayoral race got very tedious before he finally made his way to the end of it. I did in fact skip the few chapters devoted to it and wondered if the author was old enough to have covered the race when it occurred.
This was a large part of why I gave the book only three stars. I also had an issue with yet another book on sports that was narrated by someone who had no familiarity with the pronunciation of a myriad of the ballplayers names. Evidently no one who makes their living reading sports books has ever paid any attention to sports prior the their assignment. At least David LeDoux seemed to have gotten some help with 1977 Yankees because their is little that is more distracting while listening to an audiobook than the constant mispronunciation of a name or a word.
If this book was only about baseball, or even baseball and "Son of Sam" I would have enjoyed it much more. The inclusion of the mayoral race, and the amount of time spent covering it makes the book impossible for me to recommend.
A breezy, fun tour of 1970's NYC with a focus on the World Series Yankee team of that year. only issue was that it seemed to end abruptly, leaving questions about the fate of many of the key players in the drama.
For anyone interested in the decay NYC in the 1970s, I would also recommend Joe Flood's superb book "The Fires".
It's important for everyone -- particularly New Yorkers -- to understand that decade and to see how quickly poor decisions can destroy a city.
Audible has been important to me since 2008.
This is a good memory of NYC as it really was in 1977. I remember driving through the Bronx many times on my way to park by Yankee Stadium and walk across the track by the park on my way in never knowing if my car would be there when I returned! Sitting in the box seats smelling the weed being smoked throughout the stadium and watching Reggie, Billy and Munson go at it. I was oblivious about Son of Sam at the time which would have made me think twice now about what I did and where I went. The ConEd part was very interesting when they talked about the blackout.... Glad I was not there then! It was a very good book which was more history than baseball but very well done.
It portrayed the true times.
The film was made already but without the politics of the time.
The author does an amazing job of presenting the political, racial, economic, criminal, and entertainment landscape of New York City during its most pivotal time period. He made me feel like I was there. This is an excellent book that puts many things past and present into perspective.
I would recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in the history of New York City.
Because it's episodic it reminded me of Bill Bryson's book on 1927. Both books follow multiple story lines and skip back and forth between them.
His performance seemed to capture the absurdity of the and the seriousness simultaneously.
New York City is finished. . . or is it?
If you saw the ESPN mini-series it was 80% about baseball. This book splits almost evenly among the 1977 mayoral election, the Son of Sam Killer, and the Yankees, with a commentary on the blackout for good measure.
Possibly, but with a different narrator.
Someone who can pronounce the word "American" (he says "Amaaaaarican" about a thousand times throughout the book and it drove me crazy). Plus he and/or his editor did a poor job, as he mispronounced a few names or just plain mis-read a few things (Vitas Gerulaitis, Kool Herc, etc).
The chapters on the mayoral race grew tiresome. Should have spent more time on the culture of the city (art, music, etc) and how it affected the mood of the time.
"A highly enjoyable journey to NYC in 1977"
Excellent production and narration. You don't have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this excellent book just have an interest in the politics, culture and sport of a fascinating city in tumultuous times. You couldn't make up the characters brought to life by the author. A very good audiobook.
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