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Alphaville: 1988, Crime, Punishment, and the Battle for New York City's Lower East Side Hardcover – November 9, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Setting his story against one of the grittiest New York City neighborhoods of the late 1980s, Codella, a retired detective sergeant in the NYPD, with ghostwriter Bennett, relates how a tradition-rich district still populated by aging Polish and Ukrainian immigrants was threatened with destruction by the heroin trade. Codella describes his own origins in Brooklyn's Canarsie neighborhood, where old-time mob capos and cops lived side-by-side, as a prelude to his joining the police crusade against a ruthless drug kingpin, Davey Blue Eyes, and his loyal gang of smack dealers, "The Forty Thieves." They dominated the part of lower Manhattan known as Alphabet City. Written in a hyper-noir style reminiscent of Richard Price and George Pelecanos, this memoir features all the stuff of an excellent police procedural complete with drug gang rivalries, beatings, killings, and endless dealer collars and convictions. Raw, bloody, and very real, Codella's book is a historical snapshot of what was one of Gotham's most dangerous neighborhoods and the men who brought order to its frightening mayhem. (Nov.) (c)
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Review

"A rollicking recollection of what Alphabet City was like a generation ago." --New York Times

"Codella describes [Alphabet City] so vividly, with such hardboiled language that you feel like you’re in the squad car with him." --New York Post 

"Written in a hyper-noir style reminiscent of Richard Price and George Pelecanos, this memoir features all the stuff of an excellent police procedural complete with drug gang rivalries, beatings, killings, and endless dealer collars and convictions. Raw, bloody, and very real, Codella's book is a historical snapshot of what was one of Gotham's most dangerous neighborhoods and the men who brought order to its frightening mayhem." --Publishers Weekly 

"From dodging Internal Affairs and a hit ordered by a drug kingpin to making a huge dent in New York’s drug trade, Codella’s life makes for a real page-turner. This should be popular with true crime readers whether or not they agree with him that the ends justified the means. Highly recommended." --Library Journal

"Codella secures justice of a sort in this taut true-crime tale... genuinely exciting." --Kirkus

“Terrific… It's one of the best cop books I've ever read, and sits on my bookshelf beside such classics as "The French Connection," "Serpico" and "Prince of the City." Codella has written a hair-raising, suspenseful, pull-no-punches true-crime tale about the hunt for Davy Blue Eyes through the bloodstained streets and murderous housing projects of Alphabet City.” –Denis Hamill, The New York Daily News

"A blistering cop’s-eye view of the Drug War during the heady years of the late-1980s. Codella and Bennett take the reader down alleyways and into shooting galleries, capturing the mood and patter of a time when a cop nicknamed Rambo and a gang of smack dealers called the Forty Thieves were caught in a dance to the death. You will feel as though you are pounding the pavement and dodging bullets. Alphaville is the real deal.” – T.J. English, New York Times bestselling author of Havana Nocturne and The Westies

Alphaville is a quick, nitty gritty, page turning read that will leave you breathless.  Through the eyes of former undercover cop Mike Codella we are given a bird's eye view into one of the most dangerous neighborhoods anywhere in the world- Manhattan's Lower East Side.  Though the book is a true account, its characters are so colorful and vivid it reads more like a well-paced novel.  I highly, highly recommend this read.” --Philip Carlo, New York Times bestselling author of Ice Man

"A balls out cop tale from the bad old days of New York City. Watch your back in Alphaville." --Tom Folsom, New York Times bestselling author of The Mad Ones

"A narcotics cop's front-line exposure of the battles to eradicate one of America's most drug-infested landscapes. A penetrating primer on how street-savvy investigators struggle to overcome corruption, hitmen, frustrating internal rivalries and bureaucratic red tape in an often disheartening campaign to relieve the miseries generated by well-heeled, sadistic traffickers on a captive community." --Selwyn Raab, author of Five Families

“Nerve-shreddingly real.  Addictive, brilliant and compelling.  A staggeringly well-written true-life drama, which had me breathless from the first page to the last.  Stunning!”  --R.J. Ellory, author of A Quiet Belief in Angels and A Simple Act of Violence

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312592485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312592486
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've heard and read before about the near dystopian state New York City was prior to the aggressive "broken windows" posture instituted by Rudy Guliani when he became Mayor. "Alphaville" has done more to provide me with an appreciation of just what a gritty and degenerate scene it must have been. The point of view of Michael Codella, the former NYPD narcotics cop who worked those streets for twenty-some years, is honest and intriguing. His willingness to talk about the gray area of policing the drug underworld was refreshing and frightening. Corners had to be cut, compromises were made, rules were bent and lines, at times, crossed. But the larger picture was a commitment to cleaning up the town and protecting the vulnerable from some real loathsome criminality. Through it all, he retained his integrity and effectively did the job he'd been asked to do. Getting a glimpse of what NYC once was makes someone have a stronger appreciation for what a (relatively) clean and safe town it is today. A fascinating read.

Andrew V McNeill - Author of Breckenridge County
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Format: Hardcover
A must read! This book gives you a real insight of New York City crime back in the late 80's through the eyes of a cop that had seen it all. If your looking for first person view of what it was like in Alphabet City (Lower Manhattan), look no further. The realism in this book gives the reader inside thoughts on what goes through a cops mind, and how he deals with criminals to get his info, close a case, etc. What makes the book exceptionally good is the lack of "Political Correctness", instead telling it how it was!
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading Alphaville and I thought it was spectacular. It is a compelling and gripping narrative of the old Wild West that was the LES during the 1980s. There were pages that made me laugh out loud and many pages that made me want to cry. I found it sometimes poetic, sometimes vulgar, often thought-provoking, but always compelling and entertaining. The author does a wonderful job of painting a vivid picture of his career in law enforcement and the often tragic lives of the varied characters he met along the way.

Several reviewers here on Amazon have called the author a liar and a criminal. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the facts presented in this book. A quick check of the NY Times archives revealed that the outlaw named Larry Davis did indeed shoot 6 police officers, but none of the officers died (although they were all seriously injured). The line in the book, "Larry Davis who shot 6 cops to death..." is inaccurate and should have been corrected by the editor.

Codella clearly bent the rules and broke the law on many occasions. The US constitution and laws strive to protect all people against unreasonable search and seizure as well as from harassment by the police. This is fundamental for our freedom, of course. But whose constitutional rights are more important? The criminals or the countless number of people who are negatively affected by their actions? Criminals pursue their ambitions of power and wealth by trampling the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, forcing them to go about their lives facing the constant danger of being robbed, assaulted or even murdered at the hands of violent drug dealers or the many desperate junkies looking to score enough money to get high.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very solid book. A lot more in depth and well written than I had expected. At the risk of sounding cliche' this really was a page turner and one of the most honest accounts of street cop life that I have ever read. Codella pulls no punches and holds no detail back in this book and I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in police work, organized crime, street crime or true crime stories.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I received the book yesterday so I just started reading it. I'm interested in the book because I was raised there and know the neighborhood very well. I will probably like it. I liked the photo in the front of the book.
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The chronicles of a tough street-wise cop with ambition, intuition, and propensity to work within the system of law and order (most of the time) to deliver his own righteous and commendable brand of justice. Mike Codella's story is a gripping one that enlightens and enlarges the dark underbelly of our society and the gasoline that churned the engine of human suffering in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the 1980's DRUGS, and lots of them. His story is at times horrifying, inspiring, or just plain outrageous to the point of awe or hilarity (depending on the type of person you are). Alphaville is simultaneously educational, entertaining, and downright gritty with the descriptive nature of the tortured souls of junkies to the hell-raising behavior of dealers and drug lords to the incompetence, apathy, and neglect of law enforcement and politicians alike to the lawless jungle of the Lower East Side. This book will deliver a range of emotions and the unique perspective into the drug infested streets of the Lower East Side in the 1980's through the eyes of a cop who risked his life to catch the bad guys because of a belief and a vision that although the war on drug's may be impossible to eradicate completely, can systematically and pragmatically be stymied and defeated in small victories that can transform slums and ghettos into flourishing neighborhoods and communities where people can live their lives without the ever looming threat of danger and violence.
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