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Dreamland Paperback – January 3, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
He has been a professional writer since the age of 13, working originally for the Gloucester Daily Times, Gloucester, Mass., as a stringer covering covering school-boy sports. He had to learn to type to keep the job. He graduated from Columbia University, where he majored in political science, in 1980.
Baker is the author of the forthcoming novel, The Big Crowd (Houghton Mifflin, 2013), a work of historical fiction about political corruption and one of the most infamous mob murders in New York City history. He is also the co-author of the forthcoming Reggie Jackson memoir, Becoming Mr. October, due out in October, 2013, from Doubleday.
Baker's "City of Fire" trilogy, published by HarperCollins , consisted of the following historical novels: Dreamland (1999); the bestselling Paradise Alley (2002); and Strivers Row (2006)--all concerning critical moments in the history of New York and America. Paradise Alley was the winner of the 2003 James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction, and the American Book Award.
Other works include a contemporary baseball novel called Sometimes You See it Coming (1993, Crown), and the graphic novel, Luna Park, illustrated by Danijel Zezelj (DC Comics, 2009). Baker was chief historical researcher on Harold Evans's illustrated history of the United States, The American Century. He is also the author of America, The Story of Us (Melcher, 2010), the companion book to the History Channel series of the same name, and wrote the new final chapter for the reissue of Baseball, the companion book to Ken Burns' 10-part film, "Baseball," which has aired on public television.
Baker resides in New York, where he is a contributing editor to Harper's Magazine. He was formerly a columnist for American Heritage magazine and the New York Observer, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Military History, and many other periodicals. Baker has appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal and The Colbert Report, and is a member of the board of the Society of American Historians, and the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition.
Top Customer Reviews
Don't get me wrong. There were some terrific plots evolving throughout this book. I loved the character of Esther, the labor organizer who turns her back on her father, a man who richly deserves her disdain. I enjoyed the love affair between Esther and Kid Twist and the fascinating scenes of Coney Island. I never understood before reading this book that the fascination with the jostling rides was the pleasure it gave men and women who were looking for any excuse to engage in inappropirate behavior. There is much to learn from this book which is exquisitly researched.
But for every enjoyment, there is a corresponding disappointment. The plot involving Freud and Jung was tedious and inconsequential, at least in my eyes. It could easily have been eliminated with no problem. I know the author would argue vociferously with that because he intended the book to be ambitious and filled with ideas and not just some setpiece full of fluff. Fair enough. But for me, his ambition did not pay off.
Sometimes, shorter is better and this book would have benefited with fewer characters. One more note: The author really copped out in the end on the romance between Kid Twist and Esther. Maybe nothing felt right when he was writing the ending but, to delve into every possible historical and emotional detail between these two characters and then to say, "Well, anything could have happened. I'm not sure what did" is one of the biggest copouts I've ever come across in a novel. The reader is very letdown. Given the dark material of this book, it's not like we were expecting a happy ending, just a definitive ending. We were invested .
As I began to read, I was immediately reminded of several other books. AMERICAN TRAGEDY, THE ALIENIST, THE GANGS OF NEW YORK, and even CLOCKWORK ORANGE. The setting is New York City with Coney Island featured most of the time. There are gangsters and factory girls and Tammany Hall politicians and they all speak their own unique language, some Yiddish and Bowery slang. Thankfully I checked out the back of the book. Sure enough, there was a glossary. You'll be paging back and forth for the entire read.
There really isn't any main character, but Esse Abramowitz; her brother "Gyp the Blood;" Esse's lover Josef Kolykia, alias "Kid Twist;" and Tammany Hall politician Big Tim Sullivan do most of the heavy lifting. Trick the Dwarf tells the story. There is a dramatis personae provided at the beginning to help you keep track.
The plot begins when Kid Twist saves Trick the Dwarf's life at a Rat Bating by nailing Gyp the Blood with a shovel. For the rest of the book, Gyp the Blood is out to get Kid Twist. A subplot involves Esse Abramowitz's increasingly involvement in the Labor movement. She also works at the Triangle Shirtwaist Co., and if you're up on your history, you know what happened there.
I was a bit disappointed in the ending. Trick the Dwarf suggests what MIGHT have happened to the major actors, rather than telling us. There's also a subplot involving Sigmund Freud that seems to be included just to add some historical credence.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some very interesting descriptions on how awful working conditions in the early twentieth century were, before the labor union movement let to the creation of the middle class and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Thuringer
Right there with Paradise Alley, even better in my opinion. Thoroughly researched, excellent characters, well written and engaging. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Phil Normand
A brutal, raw book not for the faint of heart! Excellent writer.Published 16 months ago by Glitterbug
This book provides a very vivid portrait of life in the "demimonde" of turn of the 20th century New York. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Paul
Normily I love long books but this one had too many things that I think should have been let out. For instance the chapters on Freud and Jung. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Amazon Customer