In the spring of 1977 Reggie Jackson should have been on top of the world. The best player of the Oakland A's dynasty, which won three straight World Series, he was the first big-money free agent, wooed and flattered by George Steinbrenner into coming to the New York Yankees, which hadn't won a World Series since 1962. But Reggie was about to learn, as he writes in this vivid and surprising memoir, that until his initial experience on the Yankees, "I didn't know what alone meant."
Among the thousands of immigrants who arrive in New York harbor is an Eastern European stowaway called Kid Twist who earns his keep as an enforcer for the ruthless gangster Gyp the Blood. Soon though, Kid brutally splits with Gyp, leaving him bleeding from a shovel wound to the head in a rancid basement on the Lower East Side. His life now in jeopardy, Kid flees to Brooklyn, finding asylum with a Coney Island carny known as Trick the Dwarf.
Summer 1943. Harlem is a never-ending carnival in the second year of the war. Yet underneath the glitter, its black residents remain second-class citizens, and the neighborhood is a tinderbox, waiting for a match.
"A Magnificent Narration"
They came by boat from a starving land, and by the Underground Railroad from Southern chains, seeking refuge in a crowded, filthy corner of hell at the bottom of a great metropolis. But in the terrible July of 1863, the poor and desperate of Paradise Alley would face a new catastrophe, as flames from the war that was tearing America in two reached out to set their city on fire.
"Gripping yet gruesome tale"
In 1941, when Charlie was district attorney, Abe "Kid Twist" Reles was Charlie's star witness against the biggest crime syndicate in New York. While under 24-hour police watch, Reles jumped - or was he pushed? - out the window of the seedy Coney Island motel where he was being hidden, and with him went Charlie's case....
"Evocative but a little disappointing"
After all the sound and the fury, after all the dancing-on-a-razor-blade rhetoric, and the “true existential threat” to our government, and the sheer, desperate seaminess of the last year and a half, there is one thing - maybe the only thing - that can be said for Donald J. Trump: He kept his promise. He blew up our existing system of political campaigns. And in the end, that might make the whole degrading spectacle that was the 2016 presidential race worthwhile.
Sometime before the First World War my grandfather, Jack Baker, went to work for “Bathhouse John” Coughlin, the blustery Democratic boss of the infamous political machine in Chicago’s First Ward. Jack had been sent to farm an Indiana homestead, along with his brother and sister, after their mother died. There they were worked half to death, a common fate for hired-out children of the time. My grandfather and his older brother ran away, then returned for their sister, who they freed at gunpoint.