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The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival Hardcover – January 18, 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 102 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this tartly written memoir recalling his 1998 kidnapping, Alpert, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, describes his abduction and release, and the subsequent trial of the kidnappers, with an impressive amount of detail and only the occasional note of self-congratulation for how he handled the ordeal. On the night before his 38th birthday, Alpert was forced at gunpoint into a car near his Greenwich Village apartment, blindfolded, made to relinquish his ATM and PIN, and driven to Brooklyn, where he was kept in an apartment full of oddly personable, gun-wielding youths and teenage prostitutes. In between violent threats, the criminals solicited legal advice concerning past crimes and offered him pot and sexual favors in honor of his birthday. After 25 hours, they handed their hostage $20 cab money and left him in Prospect Park. Though the second part of the account, detailing the mechanics of the arrests and sentencing of the perpetrators, along with Alpert's return to normalcy, is relatively dry and slow, Alpert delivers an honest, vivid chronicle of the suspenseful event itself in the memoir's first half. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The view from inside the trunk of a car is delivered in this harrowing, first-person account of kidnapping, robbery, and revenge. Alpert, who now heads his own law firm, worked for 13 years as an assistant U. S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. On January 21, 1988, the eve of Alpert's thirty-eighth birthday, he was snatched from a Greenwich Village sidewalk by a carful of thugs, blindfolded and held at gunpoint, and taken to a Brooklyn apartment where his captors tried to figure out how to profit from their big catch. This story is told in two parts, effectively giving a satisfying narrative arc to Alpert's complex ordeal: the first part is "Mouse," recounting Alpert's victimization; the second part is "Cat," in which Alpert pursues his former captors. A street-smart prosecutor, Alpert delivers an unflinching look at the humiliating, terrifying role of the victim, lacing his plight with commentary on contemporary crime and the creaking judicial system. The second part reads as compellingly as the first and with every bit as much suspense. An effective, one-two punch of a memoir. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 306 pages
  • Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons; 1st edition (January 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399154027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399154027
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,170,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished reading The Birthday Party by Stanley Alpert and I was completely taken by it. On its surface the book tells the true story of a regular guy who gets snatched from the streets of New York City and is plunged into another world where his life hangs in the balance at the whim of the thugs who kidnapped him. But the book is really about much more than that. It is about friends, about family, and about the incredible blessing each of us have to wake up each morning and to be alive. As the author relates in the book nothing makes you more appreciative of your friends, family and the ones you love than the prospect of never seeing them again. Along the way the book is exciting, harrowing, scary and pretty darn funny. It paints a vivid picture or New York City from the late 90s that people may have never seen (or if they lived through it they may not remember how crazy those times were in NYC). It also explores all sorts of relationships--between father and son, buddy and buddy, boyfriend and girlfriend, captor and captive--that will both remind you of what you already know about those relationships and offer new perspectives on them.

The book is fantastic, well written, and an easy read as it quickly takes us from scene to scene. I hung on every page and shed a few tears when it was done. I highly recommend The Birthday Party. Read it. You will be glad you did.
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Format: Hardcover
The writer was kidnapped by men with automatic weapons, forcing him into the backseat of a shiny new black Lexus. Money was stolen from the kidnap victim's bank account, and he was held at gunpoint, blindfolded for 26 hours. The writer survived a hellish living nightmare due to his own resourceful answers to kidnappers's questions. Reading his weighing of these answers is one of the MANY great parts of this book. Others are the vividness with which he portrays all the harrowing and terrifying and yes, comical moments of this crime. This is an unbelievable story (law enforcement did not even believe the story for a day or 2!) told unbelievably well.
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Format: Paperback
Immediately, the wish is born - I want to see a Coen brothers movie made out if this story!

The genuine Mr. Good Guy ( ok, factor out his death penalty views ), the ideal son-in-law-would-be, a fighter-against-all-odds for the environment, gets kidnapped at gunpoint and held captive by a gang of almost kids, whose "boss" gets robbed by another gang, which throws the good guy's wallet with his credit card somewhere on the street. The woman who finds it, calls his home, and leaves a message that triggers the whole investigation.
In the meantime, he is sitting in his attorney suit on a mattress, being smoked in clouds of marijuana consumed next to him, along with some sex , and making the kidnappers laugh. All the while pondering upon his fate , that has brought him the gangsters on his birthday!

The narrative grabs you by the neck, shoves you into the NYC metro and keeps you reading on.
Because of Mr Alpert's great humor and a sensitive ear for slang and dialects, you are right there, in New York, listening to the people involved, being pushed in your side by a gun, sitting on a a mattress , listening to gangsta rap, then several chapters later, the detectives and DAs are talking to you in the interrogation room of a precinct.

Obviously, this is not a literary oeuvre written to get Stanley Alpert a Pulitzer for non-fiction, but when you think of literature as a term, it is all about story telling, this is some story and the narrator is a remarkable character.

Mr Alpert is methodical, rational and humorous. The book reflects his integrity, humor and intelligence.
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Format: Paperback
I had first seen the story of Stanley Alpert on an episode of 48 Hours Mystery awhile back. I was quite intrigued by the story of a federal prosecutor kidnapped on the streets of New York City. When the show hinted that some did not believe the story, I was hooked and had to read the story for myself first hand, so at the end when 48 Hours showed the title of the book he wrote, I put it on my to read list.

The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival is the autobiographical account of the kidnapping of Stanley Alpert, a US Assistant District Attorney in New York. After spending the evening with a new female acquaintance, grabbing some cookies and a novel from a local store, walking the lady home, and then sauntering his way home himself, Mr. Alpert was kidnapped at gunpoint by 3 assailants. The idea was that he would be held for a short time while the suspects withdrew money using his ATM card. When the suspects found out how much money he had in his savings account, plans changed. Ironically, the day after the abduction was the victim's birthday, which led to no one seriously questioning his absence until almost 24 hours after the abduction. The book discusses the events prior to the kidnapping, the bizarre details of being held captive, and the prosecution of the abductors after the events.

The book did offer a surprisingly descriptive account of what occurred throughout the ordeal and afterward. I was captivated and did not want to put the book down once the action started. However, I found that the book trailed off dramatically once the victim was released.
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