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The Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City Paperback – June 26, 2007
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"Entertaining and illuminating . . . It should not be surprising then that Mahler . . . believed a layered account of a single year in the life of the city, 1977, could sustain a book--nor should it be surprising that he was right. . . . A nuanced portrait of this wild year."--The New York Times Book Review (front cover)
"A rich canvas . . . an excellent new book."--Sports Illustrated
"Compulsively readable . . . Mahler's innocently emblematic figures careen vividly through their historical moment."--The Wall Street Journal
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Top Customer Reviews
Born and raised in the Bronx, I remember that time and those events quite well. As a baseball fan, I was disillusioned by a Yankees team that hadn't won a championship in 15 years and seemed to expend most of its energy fighting with itself and with owner George Steinbrenner.
"The Bronx is Burning" - the title is taken from a Howard Cosell remark during the 1977 World Series broadcast as the aerial shot of Yankee Stadium revealed a nearby five-alarm fire - is a well-documented narrative of the New York City of the mid-1970s. Although the baseball story seems, at times, grafted on, and the subplot of Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the New York Post became more relevant in later years, the 67-chapter, 3-part, 339-page book accurately reflects the experience of most New Yorkers at the time. Those were our day-to-day concerns: crime, the mayor's race, and Steinbrenner's Yankees.
But New York's story doesn't end with Ed Koch as mayor and the Yankees as World Series champions. Mahler leaves the impression that these two outcomes would lead to the turnaround of the city's fortunes and that 1977 was the bottom of the inverted bell curve. Neither is true.
Crime would continue to rise. The murder rate peaked at 2,262 in 1992, a full 15 years later. The Yankees wouldn't win another World Series for 19 years, against the Atlanta Braves in 1996. Drug use continued to rise all through the 1980s. A 1989 U.S. News & World Report story listed New York as one of a dozen major U.S. cities ravaged by crime.
The nadir of New York City's recent history was not 1977, and the resurgence was not due to Ed Koch or Reggie Jackson. When I left New York in 1986, the city was still a dismal and depressing place. When I visit today, it is vibrant, clean, safe and more exciting than ever. A new Yankee Stadium is under construction. As long as readers of "The Bronx is Burning" understand what came after chapter 67, they can appreciate this very readable book.
For baseball fans, the ESPN adaptation of Mahler's book is well done and worth watching. As befits the network that aired it, the mini-series (now available on DVD The Bronx is Burning) leads with the Yankees story while moving the crime and decay to the background. And, as befits the medium, it tells the story through big personalities: Billy and Reggie and George, plus Son of Sam. Grab a beer and a hot dog and sit down to enjoy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Summer 1976. A mischievous killer is on the loose and the Yankees are trying to go from worst to first.Read more