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The Last Pirate of New York

A Ghost Ship, a Killer, and the Birth of a Gangster Nation
Narrated by: Ari Fliakos, Rich Cohen
Length: 6 hrs and 11 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (61 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Was he New York City’s last pirate...or its first gangster? This is the true story of the bloodthirsty underworld legend who conquered Manhattan, dock by dock - for fans of Gangs of New York and Boardwalk Empire.

“History at its best...I highly recommend this remarkable book.” (Douglas Preston, number one New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God)

Handsome and charismatic, Albert Hicks had long been known in the dive bars and gin joints of the Five Points, the most dangerous neighborhood in maritime Manhattan. For years, he operated out of the public eye, rambling from crime to crime, working on the water in ships, sleeping in the nickel-a-night flops, drinking in barrooms where rat-baiting and bear-baiting were great entertainments. 

His criminal career reached its peak in 1860, when he was hired, under an alias, as a hand on an oyster sloop. His plan was to rob the ship and flee, disappearing into the teeming streets of lower Manhattan, as he’d done numerous times before, eventually finding his way back to his nearsighted Irish immigrant wife (who, like him, had been disowned by her family) and their infant son. But the plan went awry - the ship was found listing and unmanned in the foggy straits of Coney Island - and the voyage that was to enrich him instead led to his last desperate flight.

Long fascinated by gangster legends, Rich Cohen tells the story of this notorious underworld figure, from his humble origins to the wild, globe-crossing, bacchanalian crime spree that forged his ruthlessness and his reputation, to his ultimate incarnation as a demon who terrorized lower Manhattan, at a time when pirates anchored off 14th Street.

Advance praise for The Last Pirate of New York:

“A remarkable work of scholarship about old New York, combined with a skillfully told, edge-of-your-seat adventure story - I could not put it down.” (Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia)

“With its wise and erudite storytelling, Rich Cohen’s The Last Pirate of New York takes the reader on an exciting nonfiction narrative journey that transforms a grisly nineteenth-century murder into a shrewd portent of modern life. Totally unique, totally compelling, I enjoyed every page.” (Howard Blum, New York Times best-selling author of Gangland and American Lightning)

©2019 Rich Cohen (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

The Last Pirate of New York is an absolutely incredible true story. From the opening scene of a blood-drenched ship drifting in the fog, severed fingers lying on deck, to the evocative depictions of the New York waterfront teeming with murderers, mountebanks, and crooks, this is not a book for the faint of heart. Rich Cohen’s research is masterful, and he brings alive nineteenth-century New York in raucous and fascinating detail. This is history at its best, full of drama, crime, dogged detectives, curious characters, smoky taverns, and dark byways. I highly recommend this remarkable book.” (Douglas Preston, number one New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of the Monkey God)

The Last Pirate of New York is a riveting tale of Gotham City’s first gangster and most notorious serial killer. Rich Cohen, a superb writer and brilliant storyteller, delivers a chilling true-crime narrative - from murders to manhunt, courtroom to gallows. This book takes you to the darkest places of the human soul, and will keep you up all night once you start it.”(Linda Fairstein, author of the Alexandra Cooper crime novels)

“Rich Cohen has a knack for finding untold stories, and a talent for telling them exceptionally well. The tale of the murderous Albert Hicks is by turns upsetting, surprising, grisly, and peculiarly seductive - in other words, perfect material for this fine and original writer.” (Daniel Okrent, author of The Guarded Gate)

What members say

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Fantastic

Great book. Highly recommended. Thanks for the suggestion Ben Shapiro. If you like crime books, this is for you.

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Great Story about a New York Pirate

An interesting story about a cold blooded killer but also a remarkable adventurer in a by gone era. As much as times have changed, it’s remarkable that people and the crimes they perpetuate haven’t changed much. We still have gangsters and pirates that act out against society as Albert Hicks did. I especially liked the historical information about New York. A good summer read!

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Facinating

A somewhat obscure story that really comes to life and paints a great portrait of the times. The narration by Mr. Fliakos is excellent, the narrative leaves you waiting on the next twist and turn.

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  • Dan Fenner
  • Rego Park, New York United States
  • 07-05-19

Fascinating old NYC story

I loved this book and the narration! So full of research and told so well!