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The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival
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The Birthday Party: A Memoir of Survival

3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  486 ratings  ·  91 reviews
On January 21, 1998, the night before his thirty-eighth birthday, federal prosecutor Stanley N. Alpert was kidnapped off the streets of Manhattan by a car full of gun-toting thugs looking to use his ATM card. He ended up blindfolded in a Brooklyn apartment as his captors changed their plans, alternately threatening him and his family, seeking legal advice, expounding on th ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 2nd 2008 by Berkley (first published January 1st 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 814)
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Bronwen
The story of Stanley N. Alpert's kidnapping ordeal would have been more interesting had it been told by a third party. In Stanley's version, he comes across as superior and smug, a generally unlikeable guy. I found myself more irritated with him than sympathetic to his situation. The Birthday Party is also not very well written. Stanley would have done well to employ the services of a better editor.
Holly
In The Birthday Party former federal prosecutor Stanley N. Alpert recounts his random kidnapping in 1998, in which he was held for 24 hours and then released; his abductors wanted only to withdraw money from his bank account. They targeted him because of his expensive-looking trench coat. He was treated well, as far as these things go, and released unharmed, but the experience was still harrowing. That much of the story is interesting. I'll give him that. But this is not a good book. It is poorl ...more
Katherine
This book chronicles the random abduction of the author, then a federal prosecutor, his nearly 24 hours with the men who abducted him and tried to steal his money, and the subsequent investigation and arrests of those men. The book is riveting, particularly in the first half when Alpert is with his captors, and, seemingly, told with all realism. The second half, during the investigation, dragged a bit - Alpert tells the story with a lawyer's thoroughness and attention to detail, sometimes forget ...more
Sara
An Assistant U.S. Attorney is kidnapped at gunpoint from the streets of Manhattan on his birthday. The kidnappers aren't sure what to do with him and how to drain his bank accounts without getting caught, so they hold him blindfolded for 26 hours in a dingy apartment with guns, drugs and prostitutes until finally deciding to let him go. The book is written by the victim, and he details his ordeal and the methods he used to survive. It's interesting, but although it surely was a terrible experien ...more
Matt McNabb
Yes, Stan, I am sure it was a harrowing tale as you experienced it. But something is severely lacking in this book. And you come off as a bit of a closeted classist. They were reciting rap lyrics and you could't tell if you were being threatened? Do you often get threatened in a harmonious, albeit gruff, manner? Maybe I missed something. Maybe you omitted something, or could have told the story a bit better. This book was about 150 pages too long.
Bob
Here's the (true) story of a U.S. district attorney kidnapped by a young street gang. He uses his wits to get out unscathed and capture the bad guys. A real page turner.
Renee
The day before the author's 38th birthday, he was kidnapped by a gang in mid town Manhattan. This is an iteresting story of his account.
Susanne Bard
This book randomly showed up in my inbox at work, and I couldn't put it down until I had read every harrowing detail.
Catherine
Mmmmm, what to say... The first part [Mouse] is the account of the abduction of Stanley Alpert, Assistant United States Attorney, by some Manhattan street toughs who want to use his bank cards to get some easy cash. Realizing they can get more money if they hold him overnight, he spends a harrowing number of hours being held hostage while his captors have their way with his bank info. The second half [Cat] details the massive search effort that is begun when Alpert's friends realize he is missin ...more
Heather
Somewhere along the line I encountered a list of good 'my life had horrible shit' memoirs and stuck them all on my reading list, which is good because from time to time I dip into it and then wind up reading a book I would not have otherwise encountered. Such as this one.

The Birthday Party is a memoir by Stanley Alpert, an Asst. US Attorney who got kidnapped for a few days in NYC in the 90s by a group of opportunistic muggers who were just gonna make him empty his ATM for them, but then discover
...more
Joe
Apr 22, 2007 Joe rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: rabid true-crime fans only
I applaud the author for keeping his wits about him and surviving his kidnapping ordeal. His story is compelling. Unfortunately, the book he's written about it is uneven at best.

The author is not a professional writer, and it shows. A better writer could've made this work. I could imagine a really good long-form magazine piece based on this story, or even a good movie in the hands of the right screenwriter and director.

The book works best when Mr Alpert is directly relating his experiences with
...more
liz
Stanley was walking down the street in the Village the night before his birthday in 1998 when a car full of thugs pulled up next to him to demand he accompany them to the nearest ATM. When they saw how much he had in his account, they decided they would keep him until the next day, when they'd be able to get more money than the $200 limit. What they didn't realize was that he was an Assistant US District Attourney. Seriously. Not only the story of his 24-hour capture, "The Birthday Party" is als ...more
Ilana
This is a kind of book I'd normally never pick up -- a first-person account by a New York federal prosecutor who was kidnapped by some low-level Brooklyn pimps and thugs who wanted to use his ATM and credit cards. He survived, and this is the story of his kidnapping and then the police investigation. As I said, it's not something I would normally pick up -- but my husband had met the author on a tour of Jewish environmental activists to Israel several years ago and thus had the book on his night ...more
Jane
This book was quite interesting. Stanley Alpert tells of his kidnapping off the street in Greenwich Village by 3 thugs in a car on the eve of his birthday in 1998. Their intent is to use his ATM card and PIN to milk his bank account of his money. Alpert goes through 26 hours sitting on a bed blinfolded in a Brooklyn apartment at the hands of his gun wielding teenaged kidnappers and is miraculously released by them unhurt and with $20 for the cab fare home. Because of his job as a federal prosecu ...more
Michelle
The true crime lover in me really enjoyed the story of Stanley's kidnapping and how he survived. However, he came across as a smug, egotistical blowhard, the kind of guy I wouldn't spend 5 minutes listening to, let alone a week reading about. If he had been a more likable character for me, I would have rated this book higher.
Erin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth
stanley alpert was taken off the street and taken to an apartment and kept there for a little over a day.

the three guys that kidnapped him were not aware that he is an assistant attorney with the US district attorney's office. these guys took the wrong guy.

they withdraw $1,000 from his checking account, but want to get $50,000 from his savings account and so decide to keep him until the bank opens the next day.

blindfolded, alpert memorizes voices, locations, phone numbers to disclose to the poli
...more
Chris
This is the story of a lawyer that gets kidnapped, and his tale of survival. There are lots of superfluous details - he goes into back stories of the detectives that solved his case. Not really necessary.

The amazing thing, to me, is the amount of details this guy remembered despite being blindfolded and kidnapped. He memorized the tile pattern of the building he was in. He remembered how many steps up from the first floor the apartment was. He heard planes overhead so he knew was near JFK Airpor
...more
Book Sniffers Anonymous
The writing was poorly executed. I found myself skipping a lot of pages and just reading the dialogue.

The story is about a guy who gets kidnapped for his money. The guys decide to keep him over night so that they can get him to withdrawl money from his bank account. While he is sitting there, sometimes blind folded, in the kidnappers apartment he goes through a lot of rambled internal dialogue that has more to do with past events than what is actually happening to him right then and there. I th
...more
Laura
You Must Read This Book.

It was so incredibly fascinating, scary, and interesting. The narrative by Stanley Alpert, a US attorney kidnapped from the streets of NYC by three punk thugs, is engrossing. I really felt for him and his situation, and even though I knew he survived the ordeal, I wasn't sure about the details and I was on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading.

Kudos to him for writing this book and sharing his insights to a very different and violent world than most of us enco
...more
Jane
May 04, 2011 Jane rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Amy and Katie
Shelves: biography-memoir
From a quick glance at the reviews posted here, I see that this book elicits quite a range of opinions. I read it over a year ago and remember thoroughly enjoying it. It intrigued me that Mr Alpert was able to keep his wits about him when kidnapped by such thugs, and I felt his insights into what might either please or offend them unusually perceptive. His powers of observation served him well throughout and proved invaluable to solving the crime. In addition, the unusual reaction of law enforce ...more
Bridget
This story is so intriguing. I read the book in two evenings...less than 24 hours. It pulled me in quickly and told of a world so totally different than mine. I actually don't want to go to New York City because of the crime and violence that was painted as common place. Stan's story is amazing. BEWARE the F-bomb is everywhere in this book. Usually, I don't read books with bad language. This language didn't bother me as badly probably because it's a true story and it was quoting thugs. BUT I was ...more
Vanessa
I'm not entirely certain how a story with so much inherent drama can be almost boring, but it is. Maybe it's because you know from page one that the protagonist (who comes across as the kind of guy you'd enjoy ignoring at parties) makes it, or else he's not the one who'd be writing the book. More than half the book concerns the police investigation and trial - I guess only natural coming from a lawyer - and there's practically no drama. Perhaps the most telling statement is that I had thought th ...more
Denise
I've never seen someone be so damn proud of the fact that they were kidnapped, held at gunpoint, and then released unharmed. I'm not sure how this somewhat anti-climactic true crime tale could be stretched into 200+ pages (and honestly, I'm not sure it was- I skipped a bunch at the end because it was so repetitive). So yeah, I guess this is a suspenseful read, if you don't mind knowing how it comes out (which I totally did not spoil- it's written on the damn book jacket) and you like a little ne ...more
Jessica
Feb 25, 2008 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: law & order fans
The Birthday Party is the true account of Stanley Alpert's kidnapping on the night before his 38th birthday. The first half of the book recounts the actual kidnapping and all that entailed, while the second half of the book explains how the police and FBI caught the kidnappers and prosecuted them. Overall, this book was OK - I mean the actual story is pretty crazy. But, there was a lot of sidetracking by Alpert and in the second half there are so many quotes from different law enforcement that i ...more
Amy
This is a true story of DOJ federal prosecuter Stanley Alpert getting kidnapped the night before his birthday in Manhattan. When the thugs learned he had money, they decided to keep him. It is an intriguing and funny story of how he tries to remember every detail from the thugs offering him sexual favors from their prostitute girlfriends when they find out it is his birthday, to asking him for legal advice, to the real fears going through his mind. It is a crazy story that reads like a novel eve ...more
Bonnie
Feb 20, 2008 Bonnie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True crime fans, those curious about New York.
This book shines a light on the changing tides of crime in NYC. The author is a native New Yorker who grew up in a rough neighborhood, but is lulled into a sense of security during wave of safety in the early 90s. He recounts the tale of his kidnapping and unlikely escape while displaying his utter whiteness and lack of basic knowledge of "urban culture". It was interesting to read about someone so clueless with regards to rap and weed and modern poverty. The book is a page-turner, though. Very ...more
Maggie
A very interesting memoir about the 26 hours Stan Alpert spent as a kidnapping victim and the investigation and aftermath. He was incredibly fortunate that they did not murder him. Certainly Alpert had substantially better survival skills than I do (and, I suspect, better than most of us). For me, the weakest part of the book was the final 1/3, which followed the investigation, probably because I worked as a legal assistant in a criminal defense firm for 14 years and it was all very familiar to ...more
Tamarind
Amazing story of how someone can not only stay calm during a kidnapping, but able to consciously remember details that would lead to the capture of his kidnappers shortly after his release. He did everything right in terms of staying alive. I didn't like the style of the last few chapters, but the book overall is well written. Most stories like this would have ended in tragedy, but fortunately for Stanley Alpert he's able to continue celebrating his birthday!
Dana Stabenow
I heard him talking about this on Fresh Air and got the book so I could get the rest of the story. He's not a professional writer and it shows, and I found myself skipping most of his personal anecdotes to get to the meat of the story: his 1998 kidnapping by hoodlums off the streets of NYC and afterward the cops finding and arresting them. It was worth it, that part is riveting. He's very lucky to be alive, and I'm glad those punks are in jail.
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Stanley N. Alpert served for thirteen years with the U.S. Department of Justice, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, where he was Chief of Environmental Litigation. There, Alpert investigated, prosecuted and supervised many complex civil and criminal cases, some resulting in multi-million-dollar awards. He now runs The Alpert Firm in New York City, where he lives.
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