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Legs Paperback – January 27, 1983
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– The Washington Post Book World
“The best novel about a criminal legend I’ve ever read.”
– Hunter S. Thompson
“A brilliant novel, a truly creative piece of work . . . like any real artist, Kennedy takes what is really a sordid, vulgar reality and turns it into a human tragedy.”
– Mario Puzo
From the Publisher
Top Customer Reviews
What I liked about this novel was although William Kennedy attempted to humanize Jack Diamond to a certain extent, Kennedy did not sentimentalize or apologize for him. I had no doubt that Jack Diamond was exactly what he was: a booklegger, a thief, and a murderer. Despite numerous arrests, Jack Diamond was "The Teflon" gangster--none of the state charges against him would stick. Jack was a true media celebrity, in the same sense that the popular, but corrupt New York Mayor, Jimmy Walker, was at the time, although Jack was often unkind to reporters and photographers. Jack had loads of fans, who were mostly "the common man" who probably identified with Jack's humble beginnings. He also had many detractors, some of whom wanted to kill him. Jack also had a loving wife, Alice, and an adoring mistress, Marion "Kiki" Roberts, a dance hall girl. Jack loved them both in his own fashion. In a particularly trying time towards the end of his short life, Jack sought comfort from both women by keeping them near him, in separate rooms, on the same floor in a hotel in which he was staying at the time. His body guards were in another room. It seems that the only person Jack ever truly loved was his brother, Eddie, who died many years before of tuberculosis. Just mentioning Eddie would cause Jack's eyes to well-up with tears.Read more ›
Telling Diamond's story is Marcus Gorman, a lawyer who gets swept up in the excitement which surrounds Diamond and ends up as his attorney. Marcus, however, always insists that he be paid for his work, up front, and he refuses to be drawn into obviously illegal behavior. This makes him the perfect narrator-someone who admires much about Diamond but also someone whose judgment the reader can trust. Terse dialogue reminiscent of the novels of Raymond Chandler or Dashiel Hammett, fills the novel, but Marcus's musings about what motivates Diamond offer a more thoughtful approach to this shady character and his life than what one usually finds in noir novels.
A man with no conscience, Diamond double-crosses and cheats his way to success, often killing his own associates, events described in gory detail. But Diamond's legend grows.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As other reviewers have mentioned, LEGS is the first of William Kennedy's 'Albany cycle', a series of eight books set in and around the city of Albany, N.Y. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Bryan Byrd
After reading Ironweed, which was outstanding in my view, I decided to read the two other Albany books. Legs was the first of the three. Read morePublished 20 months ago by BrokenArrow
I normally avoid novels that feature real-life people, unable to suspend belief long enough to forget that an author is putting fictional words into a historical figure’s mouth. Read morePublished on April 25, 2014 by Jill
Much better written, and the story is essentially true. What a good writer!. I'm now into the second in his Albany series: Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, which looks to be... Read morePublished on July 23, 2013 by Clipper
I find it somewhat ironic that this "fictionalized" portrait of Jack "Legs" Diamond is far superior to many of the factual biographies of this celebrated mobster... Read morePublished on December 17, 2011 by Michael A. Coluccio
According to Wikipedia, Jack "Legs" Diamond was the "biggest celebrity in Upstate New York" in the Prohibition era. Read morePublished on October 24, 2011 by Ethan Cooper
What struck me while I read this book is how similiar the stories of the gangsters of the 1920's and 1930's are. Read morePublished on November 2, 2010 by Irish
"Legs" was the public's nickname for Jack Diamond, an Irish-American bootlegger and gangster of the Twenties who operated in and around New York City and the Catskills. Read morePublished on June 21, 2010 by R. M. Peterson
I had never heard of Jack "Legs" Diamond. I guess growing up in Chicago, we had a surplus of local 1920s Gangsters. Read morePublished on April 13, 2010 by JFlah