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

Jonathan Mahler

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ISBN 10: 0374175284 / ISBN 13: 9780374175283
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005
Used Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning: ...

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publication Date: 2005

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

Edition: 1St Edition - may be Reissue.

About this title

Synopsis:

“Masterful . . . In Mahler’s expert hands, the city’s outsized citizens are flawed, fierce,
bickersome, and as indomitable as the metropolis itself.” —Mike Sokolove, author of The Ticket Out

A passionate and dramatic account of a year in the life of a city, when baseball and crime reigned supreme, and when several remarkable figures emerged to steer New York clear of one of its most harrowing periods.

By early 1977, the metropolis was in the grip of hysteria caused by a murderer dubbed “Son of Sam.” And on a sweltering night in July, a citywide power outage touched off an orgy of looting and arson that led to the largest mass arrest in New York’s history. As the turbulent year wore on, the city became absorbed in two epic battles: the fight between Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson and team manager Billy Martin, and the battle between Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo for the city’s mayoralty. Buried beneath these parallel conflicts—one for the soul of baseball, the other for the soul of the city—was the subtext of race. The brash and confident Jackson took every black myth and threw it back in white America’s face. Meanwhile, Koch and Cuomo ran bitterly negative campaigns that played upon urbanites’ fears of soaring crime and falling municipal budgets.

These braided stories tell the history of a year that saw the opening of Studio 54, the evolution of punk rock, and the dawning of modern SoHo. As the pragmatist Koch defeated the visionary Cuomo and as Reggie Jackson finally rescued a team racked with dissension,1977 became a year of survival but also of hope.

Review:

New York City in 1977 was in the middle of wild upheaval on all fronts, from the hunt for the Son of Sam killer and the citywide blackout to a brutal mayor's race and the rise of punk rock and the zenith of disco. In Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning, journalist Jonathan Mahler revisits all those storylines through another drama, which grabbed tabloid headlines all summer long: the outrageous--and pennant-winning--New York Yankees. The Yankees weren't the greatest baseball team ever assembled--they weren't even the greatest of the era (the talent-laden Cincinnati Reds were superior player for player). But no modern team has earned more type than the "Bronx Zoo" Yanks of the late '70s, thanks in no small part to such characters as meddling owner George Steinbrenner, firebrand manager Billy Martin, and flashy slugger Reggie Jackson.

But what more is there to say about a ball club, even one as stormy and successful as the '77 Yanks? Mahler wisely strays out of the dugout and into the chaotic city to give his chronicle breadth and shape. Mahler deftly brings together a host of characters and developments--from doomed old-school catcher Thurman Munson to congressional hellraiser Bella Abzug, from media kingpin Rupert Murdoch to battling politicos Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo, from downtown punks to the glittery decadence of Studio 54. The result is a lively read that will entertain readers who wouldn't know an RBI from CBGB. --Steven Stolder

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