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The Man with the Sawed-Off Leg and Other Tales of a New York City Block Hardcover – January 23, 2018
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"An urban anthropological biography of seven Upper West Side buildings [that] provides an inviting window on New York's variety and vibrancy." - The New York Times
About the Author
- Publisher : Arcade (January 23, 2018)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1628728450
- ISBN-13 : 978-1628728453
- Item Weight : 13.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,179,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Lavishly built from 1899 to 1902 in the Beaux-Arts style, Wakin has framed this nonfiction book that almost reads like a novel around one of the most notorious robberies in New York City: the theft of nearly a half-million dollars from an armored car on August 21, 1934 by the so-called Rubel gangsters. One of them, Bernard "Bennie the Bum" McMahon accidentally shot himself in the kneecap during the gang's escape by boat. His comrades took him to 334 Riverside Drive, then owned by a boardinghouse madam, where a sympathetic doctor sawed off his leg. Hence, the title.
But Wakin also explores the truly fascinating lives of the residents of the other townhouses, which included:
• Marion Davies, an actress and mistress of William Randolph Hearst;
• Jokichi Takamine, who not only discovered the powers of adrenaline that led to the development of the EpiPen, but also was the one responsible for bringing the famous cherry blossoms to Washington, D.C.;
• The Davis baking powder king;
• Jazz musician Duke Ellington;
• Writer Saul Bellow;
• William P. Ahnelt, who created the fashion magazine;
• The Fabers of pencil-making fame;
• Julia Marlowe, America's leading Shakespearean actress.
This book is an absolutely fascinating juxtaposition of the two extremes of New York society in the early 1900s—the fabulously successful and wealthy, who often led soap opera-style personal lives, and the thugs and gangsters who would do anything for a buck.
It truly is a nonfiction page-turner!
. Thank you Mr. Wakin for a great romp into a part of NYC history.
Due to the way the story is told, the book has an uneven flow. When you read the last chapter you find yourself saying or asking, why could this not have been the first chapter? This book might work better if it were re-edited to a flash-back style with the last chapter, Chapter 20, coming first.