- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (August 17, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393329895
- ISBN-13: 978-0393329896
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #532,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York Paperback – August 17, 2007
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Authoritative, thoroughly researched, eye-opening and grand, good fun to read. -- Kirkus Reviews
Gilfoyle paints a Hogarthian cityscape...colorful, evocative social history. -- Publishers Weekly
Instructive and...chilling. -- Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
About the Author
Timothy J. Gilfoyle is an acclaimed historian. His first book, City of Eros, won the prestigious Nevins Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians. He is professor of history at Loyola University in Chicago.
Top customer reviews
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I will mention that the title is a bit misleading. There's only about half a chapter that discusses the actual craft and mores of pick-pocketing. I purchased the book because of my interesting that subject, so I was disappointed not to get more info about it. Most of Gilfoyle's attention is on the horrific penal system of the time--but, make no mistake, that's still plenty interesting.
George Appo's life is especially well documented and the author does a good job of using events in his life and the larger record of crime in New York and other northeastern urban centers. Appo's life is a good illustration of how many criminal enterprises transcended ethnic and class lines and was even a part of so called respectable society. The author also does a good job of showing the class based nature of law enforcement by contrasting Appo's with that of criminals with more money and connections.
Another interesting part of the book is the sense of community and respect among the criminals. While it is far from mutual aid society, there is defiantly a code of honor amongst the denizens of the underworld and Appo gives clear demonstration of this when he relates how he is both helped and helps his fellow criminals and when he refuses to tell the police a even when he is ripped off. Having already read a few books on the history of crime in at the turn of the 19th century I believe that this book is an excellent addition to the genera and would recommend to anyone interested in the subject.
I feel duty-bound to edit my review to reflect the fact that after finishing the book it has earned another 1.5 stars. The .5 not being available, the now 5 star score accurately conveys what I think of this book.