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A New York Times Notable Book of the Year   Scheduled for release in July 2007 as an ESPN original miniseries, starring John Turturro as Billy Martin, Oliver Platt as George Steinbrenner, and Daniel Sunjata as Reggie Jackson.   A kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City in 1977, The Bronx Is Burning is the story of two epic battles: the fight between Yankee Reggie Jackson and t A New York Times Notable Book of the Year   Scheduled for release in July 2007 as an ESPN original miniseries, starring John Turturro as Billy Martin, Oliver Platt as George Steinbrenner, and Daniel Sunjata as Reggie Jackson.   A kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City in 1977, The Bronx Is Burning is the story of two epic battles: the fight between Yankee Reggie Jackson and team manager Billy Martin, and the battle between Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch for the city's mayorship. Buried beneath these parallel conflicts--one for the soul of baseball, the other for the soul of the city--was the subtext of race.   Deftly intertwined by journalist Jonathan Mahler, these braided Big Apple narratives reverberate to reveal a year that also saw the opening of Studio 54, the acquisition of the New York Post by Rupert Murdoch, a murderer dubbed the "Son of Sam," the infamous blackout, and the evolution of punk rock. As Koch defeated Cuomo, and as Reggie Jackson rescued a team racked with dissension, 1977 became a year of survival--and also of hope.


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A New York Times Notable Book of the Year   Scheduled for release in July 2007 as an ESPN original miniseries, starring John Turturro as Billy Martin, Oliver Platt as George Steinbrenner, and Daniel Sunjata as Reggie Jackson.   A kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City in 1977, The Bronx Is Burning is the story of two epic battles: the fight between Yankee Reggie Jackson and t A New York Times Notable Book of the Year   Scheduled for release in July 2007 as an ESPN original miniseries, starring John Turturro as Billy Martin, Oliver Platt as George Steinbrenner, and Daniel Sunjata as Reggie Jackson.   A kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City in 1977, The Bronx Is Burning is the story of two epic battles: the fight between Yankee Reggie Jackson and team manager Billy Martin, and the battle between Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch for the city's mayorship. Buried beneath these parallel conflicts--one for the soul of baseball, the other for the soul of the city--was the subtext of race.   Deftly intertwined by journalist Jonathan Mahler, these braided Big Apple narratives reverberate to reveal a year that also saw the opening of Studio 54, the acquisition of the New York Post by Rupert Murdoch, a murderer dubbed the "Son of Sam," the infamous blackout, and the evolution of punk rock. As Koch defeated Cuomo, and as Reggie Jackson rescued a team racked with dissension, 1977 became a year of survival--and also of hope.

30 review for Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brina

    Hot times, summer in the city. The mercury in my car read 95 degrees today. School starts in a week and a half and the last days speeding into the school year are long and steamy. The kids are spending their last days in the pool, and I have been enjoying steamy, summer reads. For many, this could be a beach book, but in this nonfiction year, summer reading means one thing for me: baseball. I recently noticed that a goodreads friend had read Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning about 1977 Hot times, summer in the city. The mercury in my car read 95 degrees today. School starts in a week and a half and the last days speeding into the school year are long and steamy. The kids are spending their last days in the pool, and I have been enjoying steamy, summer reads. For many, this could be a beach book, but in this nonfiction year, summer reading means one thing for me: baseball. I recently noticed that a goodreads friend had read Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning about 1977 New York City, a steamy summer speeding to a dramatic end. With my own summer winding down, I had found the ultimate summer reading material. The 1977 summer in New York featured a heated race for mayor, blackout, serial killer, and largely dysfunctional Yankees team speeding toward the postseason. In the early days of free agency, the Yankees, in their first days of the Steinbrenner empire, had signed Reggie Jackson, the cream of the crop. Jackson has won three World Series titles with the Oakland As and was considered one of the stars of baseball, yet in small market Oakland, Jackson was not considered the best in the game. That would change when he signed a five year, three million dollar contract to play for the Yankees, a team one star short in the 1976 World Series against the Reds. Jackson with his Afro and Madison Avenue clothing would make the difference could October, his star reaching new heights. The Yankees at the time were a team lead by captain Thurman Munson and bitter manager Billy Martin, both Yankee lifers. With a team of all stars split into either Munson or Jackson’s camp, the team did not play as well as the sum of their parts, at least at first. With Jackson adjusting to life in the Bronx, the team would have to put their egos aside if they wanted a return trip to October. With the Yankees largely dysfunctional and mainly winning, Jonathan Mahler weaves in three storylines that dominated New York headlines in 1977. The city had seen an increase in crime, decrease in jobs, and false promises from Washington during the 1970s. Heading toward bankruptcy and minorities replacing caucasians as the main residents of the boroughs, New Yorkers looked for a new mayor in order to bring the “best city in the world” back to prosperity. Four democratic candidates vied for constituent votes: blacks, Hispanics, women, and an emerging gay culture. In a city as liberal as New York, the winner of the democratic primary would be the de facto winner of the fall general election. Incumbent mayor Abe Beame was up to his neck in New York’s housing and monetary crises. He would be opposed by Bella Abzug, Mario Cuomo, and Edward Koch, all who had mayoral pedigree. Each candidate’s ability to line up key votes would determine the result of the election in the fall. How they responded to major events about to unfold would go a long way in electing a new mayor. July saw a power outage with looting in minority neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn. The mayor’s office had been scrutinized for cutting back on the number of police officers on the street less than a year earlier. With not enough police or fire fighters on the streets, New York was on the verge of burning, a phrase coined by dominate newspaper editorialist Jimmy Breslin. Residents of Bushwick, Brooklyn and the South Bronx would be among the last to get their power back after a day and a half. Many with means would leave for Queens or Long Island, facing the reality that local politicians did not care about them. Promises of low cost housing and gentrification were shallow; neighborhoods most effected by the blackout demanded a change in political power and would go a long way toward determining the new mayor. Mahler ties up the storylines with a hunt for a serial killer that stretched over three boroughs. The killer had been effecting the psyche of New Yorkers, many of whom chose to stay home rather than enjoy all that the city had to offer during the steamy summer months. With a serial killer in jail for his crimes and a Yankees team coming together at the right time, the hot summer months in New York seemed to be a vibrant time to be alive. Ladies and Gentleman, the Bronx is Burning brings readers back to 1977 and reads like a thriller. With steamy pages that have readers on the edge of their seats, the book leant itself to become a Netflix series, that I’m intrigued to watch. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning became the perfect read for the dog days of August. 3.75 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    KOMET

    I was in my late pre-teens and early adolescence in the period described in this book. But I do remember hearing, as a 10-year old, about New York being on the verge of bankruptcy and asking Uncle Sam for a bailout. I remember, too, the 1976 World Series in which the Reds swept the Yankees. The Yankees had virtually no offensive power, to speak of. It seemed to me that only Thurman Munson (the catcher) was providing the bulk of Yankee offensive power. Alas! it was not enough and conseguently, I I was in my late pre-teens and early adolescence in the period described in this book. But I do remember hearing, as a 10-year old, about New York being on the verge of bankruptcy and asking Uncle Sam for a bailout. I remember, too, the 1976 World Series in which the Reds swept the Yankees. The Yankees had virtually no offensive power, to speak of. It seemed to me that only Thurman Munson (the catcher) was providing the bulk of Yankee offensive power. Alas! it was not enough and conseguently, I fell out of love with the Yankees. To this day, I am NOT a Yankees fan. The book also talks about Studio 54, the disco & gay scene, the Son of Sam murders, and the 1977 NYC mayoral race. Fascinating stuff. Koch I remember. But I didn't know that Mario Cuomo and Bella Abzug had also run for the mayoralty against Koch, who was a dark horse at the time. I also remember watching an ABC Special Report in July 1977 at the time of the Great Blackout in NYC. Totally blew my mind trying to comprehend how NYC could cope with that! Then there was the 1977 World Series. I was now a Dodgers fan and expected they would beat the Yankees. Didn't count on "Mr. October" coming to the fore. When Reggie Jackson hit those 3 home runs in that game (which I watched at home in the living room) off of 3 different pitchers (each time off the first pitch), I GROANED. I knew then that the Dodgers couldn't win the Series. Reggie Jackson that day had become like a demigod. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book for any reader who wants to get a good understanding of what life was like in New York during the 1970s.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bob Mayer

    Bought this book as research for my current work in progress which is set in the summer of 1977. I remember that summer, although I spent a good portion of it in Beast Barracks in my first year at West Point. I do remember going to see Star Wars when it came out. So much happened, which is why I'm using the city that summer as the backstop for my next book, New York Minute. Son of Sam was finally caught-- his last victim was a girl who'd been in my class at Holy Rosary in the Bronx. Those long, h Bought this book as research for my current work in progress which is set in the summer of 1977. I remember that summer, although I spent a good portion of it in Beast Barracks in my first year at West Point. I do remember going to see Star Wars when it came out. So much happened, which is why I'm using the city that summer as the backstop for my next book, New York Minute. Son of Sam was finally caught-- his last victim was a girl who'd been in my class at Holy Rosary in the Bronx. Those long, hot summers, where you lay in bed feeling the sweat drip off and hear the subway rattle by in the distance where it came above ground a few blocks from our house. I do confess never trying to get in Studio 54, but I do remember when disco ruled and then punk came on the scene. This book covers the key parts, including the Yankees and Reggie Jackson, which, while I am not a baseball fan, is a fascinating study of personalities. I do remember being able to see into the old Yankee Stadium from the subway platforms nearby. If you want a taste of what NY was like when it was really going down the tubes, this is it. I remember taking the bus down from West Point in uniform and getting off at the Port Authority and just walking over to catch the #2 to the Bronx getting propositioned a dozen times. It definitely wasn't Disney then. But the city had character.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Ed Koch - Mario Cuomo - Martin - Reggie - Steinbrenner - Rupert Murdoch - Son of Sam - disco - punk - ConEd - the Blackout - Bushwick - the Concorde ... it’s astounding the number of things that happened in NYC in 1977 that laid the foundation for years to come. Mahler does a commendable job of weaving them all together in this thorough narrative of this time and place in American history.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    A bit more about baseball than I ever needed to know...dramatic history of NYC during the time my parents met there!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Patrick McCoy

    There’s been a lot of talk about the nostalgia of the gritty New York of the 70s when it seemed the city was about to implode. If there was one point in which that was a distinct possibility it must have been the summer of 1977-when the serial killer Son of Sam haunted the city, a black out resulted in wide spread looting and debilitating arson fires. But it was also the search for leadership of the city as four mayoral candidates clashed for the liberal nomination for what was a bastion of libe There’s been a lot of talk about the nostalgia of the gritty New York of the 70s when it seemed the city was about to implode. If there was one point in which that was a distinct possibility it must have been the summer of 1977-when the serial killer Son of Sam haunted the city, a black out resulted in wide spread looting and debilitating arson fires. But it was also the search for leadership of the city as four mayoral candidates clashed for the liberal nomination for what was a bastion of liberality. But there was another drama in the clubhouse and the field of the New York Yankees George Steinbrenner had just bought the team and brought the combustive personalities of Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin together. Not to mention the rise and fall of disco and the birth of punk rock were also brewing in this record-breaking heat wave of the summer. Jonathan Mahler was able to weave all these stories together into a coherent narrative in his informative and entertaining book, Ladies and Gentlemen The Bronx Is Burning. It is another spot on recommendation from Nick Hornby via his now defunct “What I’m Reading” columns from The Believer magazine. Mahler uses the mayoral race and the Yankees march to the World Series as the main narratives that tie the story together-with interludes to some of the other significant historical and cultural events that took place that summer like the blackout, Son of Sam, disco, and punk rock. I'm not sure if it can be classified as only a sports book, but I think it has broad mainstream appeal. However, I must admit that I enjoyed the sports aspect of the book-as an avid baseball collector of that era I was very familiar with the principals discussed in the Yankees section.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    I loved this book!!! It describes the year of 1977 when New York City was gripped in near hysteria caused by the prowling murderer, the "Son of Sam", and the famous blackout which unleashed looting and burning on an unprecedented scale. Add to the mix the political campaign for mayor involving Ed Koch, Mario Cuomo, and Bella Abzug and the bankruptcy faced by NYC . Then top it off with the Yankees run for the pennant and the all too public fights between the Yankee's manager Billy Martin and his I loved this book!!! It describes the year of 1977 when New York City was gripped in near hysteria caused by the prowling murderer, the "Son of Sam", and the famous blackout which unleashed looting and burning on an unprecedented scale. Add to the mix the political campaign for mayor involving Ed Koch, Mario Cuomo, and Bella Abzug and the bankruptcy faced by NYC . Then top it off with the Yankees run for the pennant and the all too public fights between the Yankee's manager Billy Martin and his superstar Reggie Jackson. The author is able to meld all these events into a readable, often humorous, tale of NYC at its worst and a year when the golden city on the Hudson, was becoming a cesspool of crime and racial tension. Highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    This was a terrific book. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to follow along, though you should be interested in the history of New York City. This mostly takes place in 1977, though there is also a lot of backstory, such as John Lindsey’s two terms as mayor (if you really want to dig deep into Lindsey, I heartily recommend “The Ungovernable City” by Vincent J. Cannato) and the racial and financial troubles that followed his best of intentions. There is also a nice history of the New York Post, This was a terrific book. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to follow along, though you should be interested in the history of New York City. This mostly takes place in 1977, though there is also a lot of backstory, such as John Lindsey’s two terms as mayor (if you really want to dig deep into Lindsey, I heartily recommend “The Ungovernable City” by Vincent J. Cannato) and the racial and financial troubles that followed his best of intentions. There is also a nice history of the New York Post, particularly as a liberal tabloid under Dorothy Schiff from 1939-1976, before it was purchased by Rupert Murdoch who fashioned it into what it is today. There is a brief biographical sketch of Abe Beame who was mayor for one term between Lindsey and Ed Koch. Koch gets a lot of pages devoted to him in this book, as one of its main storylines is the mayoral race between Mario Cuomo, Ed Koch and Bella Abzug. The mayoral election dovetails with the other main storyline of Reggie Jackson and the Yankees winning the World Series, the Yankees’ first win since 1962, before NYC took its downturn. I don’t know a lot about sports, but I loved reading about Reggie Jackson and I think he gets the lengthiest biographical treatment in this book. I loved to read about his struggles in navigating sports teams and certain cities as a black man, his ability to capture the public’s imagination with his ability and confidence, and his outsized personality seemingly readymade for the camera. There is also much written about the Yankees’ manager Billy Martin and his frustrations with the game and his conflict with Jackson and Steinbrenner. Other big events from 1977: the great blackout, which is recounted in detail from the power glitch up north to the devastation of poor neighborhoods that did not recover. This was also the summer of serial killer David Berkowitz AKA The Son of Sam, in which the New York Daily News’ Jimmy Breslin and the New York Post played active roles in creating hysteria (and the killer’s notoriety) to sell papers, but also using inside scoop to aid (and occasionally muck) the investigation. California’s counterculture was in decline and NYC regained its cultural relevance with Saturday Night Live, punk rock and New Wave, discos like Studio 54, the birth of Hip Hop, the revitalization of Lower Manhattan (the author posits the tipping point as the opening day of Dean & DeLuca in ’77) and the nascent art scene which was to boom in the 80s. All in all, a terrific book about a region on the brink of collapse, as national cultural forces and a decade of local grievances chip away at any sense of decorum, breeding hostility and distrust of authority and leaving the masses feeling nihilistic. This book’s title is a quote from Howard Cosell during one of the earlier games of the World Series when a nearby abandoned school caught fire. These games in the Bronx were so rowdy that the crowd managed to assault policemen and even ball players with little concern. Upon winning the World Series, Reggie Jackson had to barrel though the shaggy-haired crowd that had swarmed the field, sending one fan flying as he shouldered his way to the dugout.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    The promised "kaleidoscopic" view of New York City that Mahler attempts, is both a virtue and a fault. His two main threads are the 1977 Yankees baseball season, and the 1977 Democratic mayoral primary. The latter is much, much stronger than the former, in my opinion. This might not be true in the adapted miniseries, where the Yankees get to take center stage. However, on paper, the battles between Koch, Cuomo, Abzug, and Beame are much more involving. Part 2, Mahler's blow-by-blow account of th The promised "kaleidoscopic" view of New York City that Mahler attempts, is both a virtue and a fault. His two main threads are the 1977 Yankees baseball season, and the 1977 Democratic mayoral primary. The latter is much, much stronger than the former, in my opinion. This might not be true in the adapted miniseries, where the Yankees get to take center stage. However, on paper, the battles between Koch, Cuomo, Abzug, and Beame are much more involving. Part 2, Mahler's blow-by-blow account of the July blackout and its position in the social fabric of 1970s New York, is arguably the strongest; the section on the Son of Sam. I find myself want this split into 2 books. One could delve more deeply into the story of the 1977 Yankees and how they fit into the history of baseball. The other would retain the story of the mayoral primary, and have more chances for fascinating vigenettes like the battle between disco and punk; the day-to-day lives and struggles of the LGBT community, and the ever-involving relationship between Manhattan and the so-called "outer boroughs". Given that this is New York City we're talking about, it's not surprising that the parts of this book are often stronger than the whole.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    As a NYC history and baseball fan, this book is made for me. I can see why this was made into a mini-series. There's so much to work with and it's all interesting. The book does a good job in getting the broad strokes for many stories and players involved and it reads like a magazine article. The key is that it rarely feels too simplified. It flows well and you get the point and it's all interesting. I'm intrigued by the vastness of NYC and this book does a good job in getting that across while As a NYC history and baseball fan, this book is made for me. I can see why this was made into a mini-series. There's so much to work with and it's all interesting. The book does a good job in getting the broad strokes for many stories and players involved and it reads like a magazine article. The key is that it rarely feels too simplified. It flows well and you get the point and it's all interesting. I'm intrigued by the vastness of NYC and this book does a good job in getting that across while never losing focus on the main stories. There are a couple of tangets such as with gentrification but they make complete sense in regard to how the city was dealing with white flight. The ending chapters do feel a bit slim but the story lines were done so it was time to get out. I wish I could get the next book in this style for the 80's.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    The first World Series I ever watched was in 1977 when the Yankees beat the Dodgers. I was pulling for the Dodgers. The title of the book is actually a quotation from Howard Cosell during one of the games when cameras captured images of abandoned buildings on fire. Mahler started out to just write about Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin and the 1977 Yankees, but during his research, he realized that the backdrop of New York at that time was too much to ignore. The Son of Sam murde The first World Series I ever watched was in 1977 when the Yankees beat the Dodgers. I was pulling for the Dodgers. The title of the book is actually a quotation from Howard Cosell during one of the games when cameras captured images of abandoned buildings on fire. Mahler started out to just write about Reggie Jackson, George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin and the 1977 Yankees, but during his research, he realized that the backdrop of New York at that time was too much to ignore. The Son of Sam murders, the blackout and ensuing violence, the heated mayoral race...all of it is given equal treatment. It is fantastic. Even if you don't like baseball, I highly recommend this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Ozawa

    This is SUCH an important book. I’ve been on a bit of a kick with books about NYC and this one really captures an era in the city. NYC is probably the most exciting city in the world and one can’t help feeling that after reading this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I'm wicked interested in NYC in the 70s, so this gets good press and if you have any other suggestions - fiction or non - bring 'em on. I'm wicked interested in NYC in the 70s, so this gets good press and if you have any other suggestions - fiction or non - bring 'em on.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Martin Doudoroff

    Engaging, brisk read for anyone into NYC history

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    3.5 stars There are three threads about this story of New York City in 1977. The first and best thread is about the New Yankees and their drive to their first World Series victory in decades. It focuses heavily on Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, and his fractured relationship with manager Billy Martin. The second thread is cultural focusing on events like the Great Blackout and subsequent riots and the Son of Adam murders. This was an interesting thread but not in enough depth for my liking. The last 3.5 stars There are three threads about this story of New York City in 1977. The first and best thread is about the New Yankees and their drive to their first World Series victory in decades. It focuses heavily on Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, and his fractured relationship with manager Billy Martin. The second thread is cultural focusing on events like the Great Blackout and subsequent riots and the Son of Adam murders. This was an interesting thread but not in enough depth for my liking. The last thread was about the mayoral race between Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo. In my opinion the author failed to capture the personality or the background of the candidates. So in summary, don’t look for much context here, but if you are already familiar with these characters and events then the book is pretty good.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Roz Milner

    Back in 1977, New York was a joke. A cruel one maybe, but to most of America it was a joke: the biggest city in America was on the verge of bankruptcy and crime was going out of control. It’s a gritty, tense world Jonathan Mahler evokes in The Bronx is Burning, his look at that memorable New York summer, both in the street and on the field at Yankee Stadium. In many ways, the Yankees and the city reflected each other. Both had long legacies of greatness but had largely fallen apart in recent year Back in 1977, New York was a joke. A cruel one maybe, but to most of America it was a joke: the biggest city in America was on the verge of bankruptcy and crime was going out of control. It’s a gritty, tense world Jonathan Mahler evokes in The Bronx is Burning, his look at that memorable New York summer, both in the street and on the field at Yankee Stadium. In many ways, the Yankees and the city reflected each other. Both had long legacies of greatness but had largely fallen apart in recent years. The Yankees had just returned to the postseason, but were quickly swept by the Cincinnati Reds; New York had just hosted the Democratic National Convention, but was largely ignored by President Jimmy Carter. And both had big changes in the near horizon. Mahler’s book captures this divisive moment in the city’s history in vivid detail. He weaves back and forth between the rise of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post, a heated mayoral election, civil unrest and baseball effortlessly, often finding connections between them. The world of Studio 54 wasn’t an alien one to Reggie Jackson, but neither was the resentment of impoverished areas like Bushwick or the South Bronx. Indeed, Jackson and his furious relationship with Billy Martin largely drives the action in The Bronx… with their fights and backstabbing quickly becoming baseball lore. Mahler recounts slight after slight, quote after quote, the tension rising to a boiling point one afternoon in Boston when they came to blows in the dugout in front a national TV audience. Not much later, Mahler recounts the city’s boiling point: the blackout of 1977. He devotes one section of the book to this event, some 25 hours that changed the direction of the city. After it, the mayoral campaign took a nasty turn and soon devolved into Mario Cuomo and Ed Koch sniping at each other. After it, it was impossible to ignore the social trends that caused widespread looting and the deteriorating inner city. And after it, the Yankees slowly started turning their season around. Although this book’s often held up as one the big sports books of the past decade – Grantland mentioned it by name in a story about baseball books a few weeks back – some parts haven’t aged well. For example: Mahler makes a good case for Jackson’s success at the plate, but his heavy reliance on statistics like batting average and RBI reflect a past era of sports writing. An enjoyable read, I breezed through this one in a few days. While it’s picture of the city is relatively small in size, it has a huge scope and attempts to show America’s largest city in a state of flux. As a baseball history, it’s no Summer of 49, but it’ll more than fit the bill for a fun summer read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Roy

    In 1979, two-years after the action of this book, I was born, and my parents moved the family from a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment on Central Park West to a house in Westchester. Now I know why. This is the story of the City in the bad old days, possibly at its bottoming out. This is a great time to look back on the City and where it has come over the last 30-years. Currently, the stories in the papers are about gentrification and the return of the white, middle- and upper- class, not its fligh In 1979, two-years after the action of this book, I was born, and my parents moved the family from a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment on Central Park West to a house in Westchester. Now I know why. This is the story of the City in the bad old days, possibly at its bottoming out. This is a great time to look back on the City and where it has come over the last 30-years. Currently, the stories in the papers are about gentrification and the return of the white, middle- and upper- class, not its flight. New York is safer and as much of an aspirational destination than it has ever been. As the rest of the country is staggered by a recession and a drop in the housing market, the City's economy seems bulletproof. The City and the country rarely seem in-step with each other. Idealistically, New York often clashes with the rest of the US, so it is not a surprise to read about the country's ambivalence to the City's plight when it was so desperate. The Yankee story has great echoes to 2008, as this is the last year of the stadium, Steinbrenner is clearly in his days of dotage, and the players from that team now populate the manager's and front offices of baseball. The Yanks are on only there second manager in the last 12-years. George has mellowed considerably. Why, even today they trotted out many of those old bastards out for Old Timers' Day. Yogi was cheered because he is Yogi. Reg-gie got to doff his cap and swing for the fences one-more time. We still have cartoon controversy (Arod and Madonna, if you can believe it) but the players are much better rehearsed and know how to avoid saying the wrong thing. Some of the things Reggie said seem unfathomably when you hear Jeter spout 110% vanilla at interview time. The writers have to work so much harder these days... This book is really about 8 to 10 biographies strung together over four story lines: the Yankees, the mayoral election, the blackout, and the Sun of Sam. All that ground being covered in a clear and well organized book is a feat. Mahler has pulled out some interesting bits of all the well-documented personalities and brings them together to paint a vivid picture. In the end it is the story of the city at a pivotal time. My one request would be that a prologue on the key players was needed to complete the story. Now would be a good time to look back and assess what happened then and how it has effected us now. Cuomo's Queens, Koch's Village, Steinbrenner's South Bronx, Rangel's Harlem, and Beame's Brooklyn are all very different places.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Silvio111

    This is a fascinating method of recording history: in this case, through the time lens of 1977 via baseball, politics, crime, and social history. New York City has gone through a lot of changes since 1977. I grew up in North Jersey, only experiencing the City through day trips to see movies, the ballet, and occasionally to make a major shopping purchase at Bonwit Teller or Macy's. Everything I remember from 1977 was an outsider's knowledge, gained from radio, tv, or the newspapers, IF, as a 20-so This is a fascinating method of recording history: in this case, through the time lens of 1977 via baseball, politics, crime, and social history. New York City has gone through a lot of changes since 1977. I grew up in North Jersey, only experiencing the City through day trips to see movies, the ballet, and occasionally to make a major shopping purchase at Bonwit Teller or Macy's. Everything I remember from 1977 was an outsider's knowledge, gained from radio, tv, or the newspapers, IF, as a 20-something year old, I was keeping in touch with those media. I always find it interesting to read histories of time and geography that I lived through but did not necessarily pay close attention to. In this case, I was not a baseball fan, did not care too much about who was Mayor, and only remember the most extreme current events. I do remember the Blackout and Son of Sam, but I really was not aware of Reggie Jackson and all the drama accompanying Billy Martin and the Yankees. Strangely enough, the reason I read this book was an 80s movie I recently discovered: BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED, one of Steven Spielburg's early production credits. It concerns a time in the 70s in New York City when landlords were selling unprofitable rental buildings by either burning them down or selling the property to developers because rent control was killing them, and poverty, crime, and white flight were dooming neighborhoods in the Boroughs to a long, painful death. I wanted to learn more, and found LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE BRONX IS BURNING. It touches upon this issue, but has a more global overview. It really is a well written, well researched, and irresistable account of one eventful year in THE BIG APPLE. I have never been in love with New York, but I grew up in its shadow. I am one of those people who as a child, felt sorry for people living in the rest of the country, because I thought only people within TV and RADIO distance of New York City could possibly have access to everything that mattered. (I think this must be a suburban syndrome; living in such a barren environment, we clung to the Real Thing even though we did not want to have to "live there.") Anyway, speaking as an East Coast baby boomer, I found this book absolutely un-put-down-able.

  19. 5 out of 5

    John

    It took me forever to finish this book, but I finally did. It's basically about the summer of 1977 in New York City, which was a crazy chapter in the city's history. The city was bankrupt, crime and poverty were at an all-time high. The Son of Sam serial killer was on the loose. A pivotal mayoral race was taking place (which Ed Koch ultimately won), and the Yankees had a very memorable second half of the season and post-season, involving Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, and George Steinbrenner. A m It took me forever to finish this book, but I finally did. It's basically about the summer of 1977 in New York City, which was a crazy chapter in the city's history. The city was bankrupt, crime and poverty were at an all-time high. The Son of Sam serial killer was on the loose. A pivotal mayoral race was taking place (which Ed Koch ultimately won), and the Yankees had a very memorable second half of the season and post-season, involving Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, and George Steinbrenner. A major heat wave hit during that summer too, prompting a major blackout, followed by looting and rioting, further tarnishing New York's image. An ESPN miniseries has been made based on the events of this book, but I haven't seen it. The time frame is the same as in the movie "Summer of Sam". I basically enjoyed the book. The subject matter is interesting, but big stretches read like a police blotter. The book switches back and forth from topic to topic but doesn't create a lot of drama or suspense. Also, there's a real attempt by the author to imbue the events of the story with more significance than I think they really held. I'm into New York City history, so I learned quite a bit that I didn't know, but if I weren't interested in this subject, the book might not have sustained my interest past the first 100 pages.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    I know that some of my friends must be doing a double-take to see me give five stars to a book that's non-fiction and largely about baseball -- two things that I generally don't care for. Sure, it helped that the book -- while set within the framework of the 1977 baseball season and the clash of egos between Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin -- was also about New York City politics and social history. But Mahler still managed to write a page-turner that made me look forward to what happened next i I know that some of my friends must be doing a double-take to see me give five stars to a book that's non-fiction and largely about baseball -- two things that I generally don't care for. Sure, it helped that the book -- while set within the framework of the 1977 baseball season and the clash of egos between Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin -- was also about New York City politics and social history. But Mahler still managed to write a page-turner that made me look forward to what happened next in the baseball chapters just as much as I did in the chapters about the mayor's race or the ones about the social changes going on in the Big Apple. I'm not nearly as well-read about New York City politics as I should be (or even as much as I'd like to be), but it was really interesting seeing all the names of people who played a key role in government in 1977, and knowing how important they (or their children, in some cases) still are today. NYC is a small town in so many ways. Definitely recommended. The writing is great, the subject is interesting, and the chapters are just the right length to get you hooked on a storyline and then leave you hanging while the book moves on to something else -- prompting a recurring pattern of "just one more chapter!" until you've breezed through the book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    3 1/2 stars. Some parts of this book were great, but other parts dragged. The biggest flaw was the author was basically trying to tell multiple different stories without doing enough to connect them. Specifically, the story of the '77 Yankees is basically a separate story from the rest of the book. In the early chapters, I found the Yankees chapters to be the most compelling and interesting, as he dove into the different characters, while the other story lines plodded along slowly. But later in 3 1/2 stars. Some parts of this book were great, but other parts dragged. The biggest flaw was the author was basically trying to tell multiple different stories without doing enough to connect them. Specifically, the story of the '77 Yankees is basically a separate story from the rest of the book. In the early chapters, I found the Yankees chapters to be the most compelling and interesting, as he dove into the different characters, while the other story lines plodded along slowly. But later in the book, the Yankees chapters felt like a distraction from the more compelling mayoral race. He never really connected the Yankees story to the story of the city, and the end felt anticlimatic. My advice would have been to choose one story and stick to it - either tell the story of NYC in the '70s through the '77 mayoral race, or tell the story of the '77 Yankees with some window into broader cultural/societal/racial issues (a la Breaks of the Game).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen (itpdx)

    I will be visiting NYC later this year and this was an excellent book to review and put into perspective some of the city's recent history. Mahler's descriptions of the 1977 black out and riots and the mayoral race were wonderful. He gave me an understanding of the personalities and the shifting political scene in New York as the city faced bankruptcy and the old patronage systems began to fade. He brings the blackout story to the personal level with the story of what happened in Con Edison's Co I will be visiting NYC later this year and this was an excellent book to review and put into perspective some of the city's recent history. Mahler's descriptions of the 1977 black out and riots and the mayoral race were wonderful. He gave me an understanding of the personalities and the shifting political scene in New York as the city faced bankruptcy and the old patronage systems began to fade. He brings the blackout story to the personal level with the story of what happened in Con Edison's Control Center causing the city to go black and the story of one police officer's experiences trying to control the looting in Bushwick. He also follows the Steinbrenner-Billy Martin-Reggie Jackson Yankees World Series. Mahler drops into sports-writer baseballese a little too much for the non-aficionado to follow some of his game descriptions.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy Lively

    If a city can have a biography, this is it, or at least this is it for one year in the life of a city. And what a year! The author takes the narrative approach and infuses the story with in-depth looks into personalities that made New York City, circa 1977, one worthy of a close examination. I hated having to relive the painful American League playoffs that year, in which my beloved Royals were ousted by the Yankees. However, Mahler has me wanting to know more about Billy Martin. He also had me If a city can have a biography, this is it, or at least this is it for one year in the life of a city. And what a year! The author takes the narrative approach and infuses the story with in-depth looks into personalities that made New York City, circa 1977, one worthy of a close examination. I hated having to relive the painful American League playoffs that year, in which my beloved Royals were ousted by the Yankees. However, Mahler has me wanting to know more about Billy Martin. He also had me riveted with his chapters on the blackout and the social conditions to led to the looting. The Bronx was, indeed, burning. The only reason that this is not a 5-star review from me is that, at times, the recapping of the mayoral race got a bit tedious (a bit of foreshadowing about Rupert Murdoch, though!). Still, I highly recommend it for anyone interested in 70s history or NYC history.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Woody

    So this book is basically about where we all live, New York, except New York in the seventies, so if you like either of those you might find this kinda interesting, I know I did being a fan of both the seventies and new york. Despite the fact that its a historical book, it kind of reads like a story. 1970's new york defininalty makes a good story, is hard to beleive that new york could have been that crappy. It talks a lot about the yankees and reggie jackson, and sometimes the club scenes in ne So this book is basically about where we all live, New York, except New York in the seventies, so if you like either of those you might find this kinda interesting, I know I did being a fan of both the seventies and new york. Despite the fact that its a historical book, it kind of reads like a story. 1970's new york defininalty makes a good story, is hard to beleive that new york could have been that crappy. It talks a lot about the yankees and reggie jackson, and sometimes the club scenes in new york at the time. Basically it talks about all the problems new york had back then, but its still pretty cool.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jan Dawson

    Very interesting review of what happened to the Yankees, but more broadly the city of New York during the late 70s. Good for baseball fans in particular but also worth reading for anyone who loves learning about New York and its past. As a non-native New Yorker I found the history of the city and its troubles particularly illuminating. Well written, with lots of stories - the Yankees themselves, the mayoral race, the riots in the Bronx and Brookyln, the Son of Sam murders - all interwoven in a w Very interesting review of what happened to the Yankees, but more broadly the city of New York during the late 70s. Good for baseball fans in particular but also worth reading for anyone who loves learning about New York and its past. As a non-native New Yorker I found the history of the city and its troubles particularly illuminating. Well written, with lots of stories - the Yankees themselves, the mayoral race, the riots in the Bronx and Brookyln, the Son of Sam murders - all interwoven in a way that doesn't feel disorienting.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Carol Storm

    Pretty good book overall, describing NYC in the Summer of 1977. Reggie Jackson, Son of Sam, political conflicts, crime in the street, etc. etc. Problem is the book reads more like a collectin of NEW YORKER profiles than a coherent narrative. One minute you're reading about Billy Martin and the next it's Bella Abzug? I burned out about halfway through. Pretty good book overall, describing NYC in the Summer of 1977. Reggie Jackson, Son of Sam, political conflicts, crime in the street, etc. etc. Problem is the book reads more like a collectin of NEW YORKER profiles than a coherent narrative. One minute you're reading about Billy Martin and the next it's Bella Abzug? I burned out about halfway through.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    It's okay if a little pale. But as the author says he is not a native New Yorker and the sources are mostly secondary accounts. Thus the facts seem to be right but the smell of it is wrong. And I mean the smell. New York in the 70s was a unique place and you just had to be there. It's okay if a little pale. But as the author says he is not a native New Yorker and the sources are mostly secondary accounts. Thus the facts seem to be right but the smell of it is wrong. And I mean the smell. New York in the 70s was a unique place and you just had to be there.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Adam J.

    Excellently blends baseball, politics, and culture in a formative era in NYC history. I personally would have liked a bit more baseball and a bit less politics, but that is nitpicky. Strongly recommend. On rereading, the politics are perfect.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vam Norrison

    Fast, fun, and gritty. The narrative's scope is too wide to deliver fully on any one of its major story lines. Its episodes deliver a portrait of a city bursting with tension. A great jumping-off point--recommended. Fast, fun, and gritty. The narrative's scope is too wide to deliver fully on any one of its major story lines. Its episodes deliver a portrait of a city bursting with tension. A great jumping-off point--recommended.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mike McPadden

    A near-masterpiece, marred only by the absence of a "Where Are They Now?" concluding chapter. Feverish, immersive, wry, thoroughly informative. I was there (at age nine) and this book brought me back (forever). A near-masterpiece, marred only by the absence of a "Where Are They Now?" concluding chapter. Feverish, immersive, wry, thoroughly informative. I was there (at age nine) and this book brought me back (forever).

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