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The Amboy Dukes Hardcover – March 30, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Buccaneer Books (March 30, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568497350
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568497358
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #629,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

1st book I ever read.
Pauline Wildman
Must reading for Kurt Vonnegut fans!
C. Wagner
I read this book when I was 12 yrs.
LearnRightforYourType

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Doepke on June 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
In 1945, teenagers were visible as individuals but not as a group. The subculture would come later, with rock and roll, Elvis, and portable radios. Meanwhile there was a depression to work through and a big war to win. Small wonder that kids of that era passed quickly from adolescence to adulthood with hardly time for a coke along the way. The Amboy Dukes is a milestone youth novel of that era. Though not as self-consciously literary as its middle-class competitor Catcher in the Rye, Dukes vividly dramatizes urban despair in a crowded working-class precinct of New York City, and its effect on the Jewish youth gangs spawned there. It was then and remains a classically gritty tale of modern America.
Because Shulman portrays the sexual escapades and pot smoking in candid fashion, it's easy for critics to stigmatize Dukes as a trashy novel. That however neglects the many dimensions to the book, including some very fine writing by the author. Instead, I take it as an honest depiction of what Shulman knew and chose to set out in unusually forceful and unpatronizing terms. Coveted by teenagers of the time for its daring assault on censorship, the language and events may seem tame compared with today's non-existent standards. Yet Shulman's characters and their dramatic narrative remain as fresh and timely as ever, the murder of the teacher standing, in retrospect, as an opening shot in the youth rebellion to come. Substitute Latino or Black for the Jewish Dukes, add a level of drug trafficking, and the story (including the awful conditions that spawned them) remains essentially unchanged from then to now.
Also, author Shulman goes into vivid detail describing the youth fashions and moral behavior of the day, or what kids then considered 'cool'.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jim Cain on July 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was in junior high school outside New York City when this book made the rounds. (I'm now in my early 70's.) It was a paperback with a racy cover. The word was out in my school: "Wow, this is a great, dirty book." In those days, even George Orwell's "1984" was considered on the border of being racy; so obviously, times were far different then. Kids who got the book (including me) kept it hidden from their parents. I think there may even have been allegations that there was some communist conspiracy behind the book, because it showed the gritty and harsh world of youth gangs in New York--not a flattering picture of America. And it ended tragically. (In those days of the McCarthy hearings and blacklisting, anything that showed anything American in a bad light was believed to somehow be mixed up in communism--at least that's my recollection today of the way things were then.) I still remember, 60 years later, the horrifying last paragraph of the book--but will not divulge it here in case some plan to read the novel.

I kept my copy hidden in my closet, always fearful that my parents might discover it and raise hell with me for reading such "smut." Kids who took the book to school had it confiscated by the faculty. That fact alone increased the desirability of the book--much as the old 'banned by the Catholic Church' or 'banned in Boston' boosted sales of novels and movie tickets.

Amboy Dukes appealed to the sexual interests of we then-adolescent boys who read it. The characters routinely "felt up" their girlfriends and occasionally had sex--much as we hoped to do when we were a little older.

Of course, the social implications were lost on most of us kids. We were more interested in the sexual capers of these 1940's gangbangers.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jason P. Gold on January 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gawd, I loved this book. In my younger days, I probably read it more times than a preacher reads the Bible. (Used paperbacks only!) The author uses the pen name Kilgore Trout, which is a character from several Kurt Vonnegut novels. (Philip Jose Farmer did it as a send up of Vonnegut, so he used the Kilgor Trout name.) It is very much like Vonnegut describes books by Kilgore Trout -- science fiction materpieces which combine great humor and great wisdom which are truly multi-level masterpieces of sarcasm directed at the human condition and our greatest institutions. It is also very silly. (See Douglas Adams "Hitchikers' Guide to the Galaxy for similar deranged sci-fi humor!)

The basic story is of the life and travels of our hero, Simon Wagstaff, the Space Wanderer. He is the last surviving human being, after the Earth gets destroyed in a second Great Flood, which was caused by an alien race which goes around the universe cleaning planets. Their schedule had them clean planets every 10,000 years, but they made a mistake and came back after only 4,000. At the time of the flood, the Space Wanderer is on top of the reconstituted Sphynx in Egypt. (When they rebuilt the Sphynx, they used the face of someone famous because they did not know what the original looked like.) Simon Wagstaff escapes in a Chinese Space Junk, which just happens to float by. Unfortunately, the controls are in Chinese, which makes it difficult to fly. It should be noted that the ship is shaped like a giant flying dildo, consisting of a long cylindrical body with two bulbous engine pods at the back. It flys on 69X drive, which taps into the energy of living suns in another universe, and makes a screaming sound as it gets close to its peak speed of 69 times the speed of light!
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