The Gangs of New York (book)

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The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld
Author Herbert Asbury
Country United States
Language English
Subject 19th-century crime in New York City, New York, United States
Genre Non-fiction
Published 1927; 89 years ago (1927)
Publisher Garden City Publishing Company
Media type Print
Pages 400
OCLC 8903814

The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld is an American non-fiction book by Herbert Asbury, first published in 1927 by Garden City Publishing Company.


The book is about 19th century gangs in the American city of New York City, New York. It details the rise and fall of gangs prior to the domination of the Mafia during Prohibition in the 1920s.

Focusing on the saloon halls, gambling dens and winding alleys of the Bowery and the Five Points district of Lower Manhattan, the book evokes the destitution and violence of a turbulent era, when colorfully named criminals like "Dandy" Johnny Dolan, William Poole (also known as Bill the Butcher), and Hell-Cat Maggie lurked in the shadows, and infamous gangs including the Plug Uglies, Dead Rabbits, and the Bowery Boys ruled the streets. It includes a rogues' gallery of prostitutes, pimps, poisoners, pickpockets, murderers and thieves.


It was loosely adapted into the epic historical drama film Gangs of New York (2002) by director Martin Scorsese.

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