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American Gangster: And Other Tales of New York

3.09 of 5 stars 3.09  ·  rating details  ·  217 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In the 1970s, Frank Lucas was the king of the Harlem drug trade, bringing inover a million dollars a day. So many heroin addicts were buying from him on 116th Street that he claimed the Transit Authority changed the bus routes to avoid them. He lived a glamorous life, hobnobbing with athletes, musicians, and politicians, but Lucas was a ruthless gangster. He was notorious ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 10th 2007 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 379)
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Pete
I looked the movie with Denzel Washington, so I thought i would read the book. Well it is just one of many short articles about things or people in New York. Each story was very different, but well written and enjoyable. However, I was expecting more on the American Gangster point, so that was a bit of a let down. Still an enjoyable read though.
Zach
Interesting, but it is likely not what people expect.

The part about Frank Lucas, is only about a third of the book, the rest are devoted to essays the author wrote for various NYC magazines/newspapers.

The section on Frank Lucas is not a typical "true crime" written as long journalistic piece with lots of dates, places. Jacobson does give a background for what happened, but he is also attempting to convey more about Lucas' personality, overall it reads more like a feature piece.

The other piece
...more
Nicole
American Gangster: And Other Tales of New York is a collection of essays and articles by Mark Jacobson, and the inspiration for the movie with Denzel Washington. Initially, I was really enjoying tales detailing the lives of gangsters, accounts of trendy hangouts and crazy New Yorkers... who doesn't like hearing stories about crazy people? Overall, I enjoyed the stories... right up to the point where Jacobson begins discussing September 11 and the (unbelievable) theory that not only was the U.S. ...more
Nycdreamin
This is a collection of short stories/essays written by Marc Jacobson between 1975 and 2005 that have appeared in various publications such as the Village Voice and New York Magazine. The main story in the book, "The American Gangster, a.k.a. The Haint of Harlem, the Frank Lucas Story" details the rise and fall of one of the most successful Heroin dealers ever to set up shop in 1970's era New York City. The story was the basis for the movie "American Gangster" which saw release in 2007.

The rest
...more
Brendan
Jacobson specialized in "slice of life" features for New York periodicals. His stories have won numerous awards and spawned a number of other texts, including the television show Taxi and the feature film based on the title article mentioned above. Jacobson brings an eye for detail and description to his interactions with the characters populating the city, informing his writing with crisp histories and choice quotes. It's a good read. A few extra thoughts:

* "American Gangster" - Jacobson does
...more
Shirley
Jan 01, 2008 Shirley rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who loves New York
It's a collection of articles that were published in the Village Voice and New York magazine from the 1970s onwards. The articles are about interesting people and places in New York and written by New Yorker Mark Jacobson. His collection is divided into three parts: Uptown, Downtown, and All Around the Town.

One of the articles is called The American Gangster, a.k.a. The Haint of Harlen the Frank Lucas Story which is going to be released as a movie staring Denzel Washington and Russel Crow in ea
...more
Georgene
The first article in this compilation was used as the basis of "American Gangster", starring Denzel Washington. The rest, while not as famous, are also very good.

Jacobson has been a journalist for years in New York City and apparently worked for the Village Voice for many of those years.

All the stories in this volume are worth reading.
Ted
Apr 03, 2008 Ted rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: New Yorkers
I read this book with the expectation of gang related stories. I thought it would give me a clear understanding of Frank Lucas' life, but it only gave me the first 35 pages. Some of the stories throughout the book were interesting, including the american gangseter story, but others were humdrum. Although Jacobson gave great facts for the New York stories. Jacobson expresses his journalistic expertise by breaking the book into three parts, which are Uptown, Downtowm, and All Around the Town. the ...more
Jolene
When all is said and done - I gave this book 3 stars, cause i really did enjoy it. After reading about half the book, I throughly ready the cover - A "Novelization" of the movie and I wanted to HATE it... but couldn't. I enjoy reading books turned into movies for add'l perspective and to get a better understanding of the authors intentions and the term Novelization almost made me put the book down and rent the movie (gasp!)...
I'm glad I read it before seeing the Movie as it did help define the
...more
Debra Cleaver
Apr 30, 2014 Debra Cleaver rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: new yawkers
i don't know if it's homesickness, or nostalgia for a new york i never got to experience (fuck you, guiliani, for "cleaning up" my beloved city), but i'm tearing through this book. mark jacobson is a queens native, life-long new-yorker, and an old-school journalist of the jimmy breslin style. most of the articles in this book were written in the 70s, and chronicle the seedier side of new york. can you imagine 14th and 3rd being a seedy corner? jesus, you'd be lucky to rent a studio for 3 grand t ...more
Luke
I think a bunch of the lower scores this book has received is due to disappointment that it's not a complete write-up of the movie. Which is silly, as Jacobson's writing is much better.

Inside you'll find a collection of feature pieces that each convey a true slice of NYC. The tone is one which doesn't seem to surface much any more - a Runyonesque picture of winners and losers with the jaundiced eye of a true New Yorker.

If you bemoan the cleaned-up Times Square and are looking for stiffs that m
...more
Jon
I hate when books are marketed with movies, but loved the NY grittiness throughout this. Shorty after I'd read the 3rd/14th story, I stumbled through some sort of junkie commerce outside of the well known and well reviled neighborhood crackhouse. I couldn't understand any of the conversation and yelling, because I don't speak junkie, but I could appreciate the futility of it. I'd only read a few of Jacobsons articles before, and enjoyed this. Good plane reading.
Carol
This collection of magazine articles was, not surprisingly, diverse. Only 4 of them held my interest, including the title story, which was used for the basis of the recent movie. The article supporting the theory that Dick Cheney was responsible for the 9/11 attacks was disturbing, insulting, and plain disgusting. I lost momentum after reading that piece. I would not search for any other books by this author.
Jamila
Badass collection of short pieces all about NYC. Reading the book makes you feel open and adventurous. It makes you want to turn to the person next to you on the train and strike up a conversation, cause maybe, just maybe you'll find yourself talking with somebody dark, weird, creepy, or just plain genius like the folks you meet in the collection.
Jenn
These stories (most published in The Voice) were highly entertaining pieces on New York. Of course my favourite was the one about Frank Lucas, having seen American Gangster not so long ago. There was only two pieces I did not read all the way through, mostly because the subject did not interest me at all (politics and sports.)
Dignan107
Not very enjoyable at all. Another 'film better than book' scenario, (similar to Mothman Prophecies I've recently endured) whereas normally vice-versa is the norm. Just a series of stories of people that live in the same city. These people could be from any western world city. A blatant New York cash-in. Shame
Lesley
I thought most of the book would be the American Gangster story, but it was only one small part of it. The rest of the book was other short stories about New York that the author had written for the Village Voice, New York Observer, etc. over the years. Some were interesting, some didn't hold my interest at all.
Terry
There are some interesting tales in this book, but I found that they were pretty disconnected and not all were very good. But, I ground through it. The topic is one that could have been much more robust, even if a movie was made about it.
Patricia
There are 19 true articles about gangs/organisations/groups in New York.
An interesting perspective on life there 20/30 years ago. Some I liked others were a bit tedious!!
Kelsey
It had some amazing stories and some ok ones. If you love New York then you will probably love it. It really gives you an idea of what it is like, especially the seedy side of NYC
Brody
Interesting perspective from a columnist. Guy has a lot of good stories, and some are exceptionally well written... Some are really long winded.
MelancholyDragon
I dunno. This was okay. It had some good stories from back in the day and then it had some stories that were just blah blah blah. Mediocre book.
Chamie
I would give this a 3 1/2 stars which would upgrade to a 4 on goodreads. I especially liked the Frank Lucas and 911 stories.
Robert
It was a fast moving book. I thought it was a really good story, and I breezed through it. I really want to see this movie.
Mark Jordan


A decent book for the coffee table or to read in 15min intervals as its a collection of short stories.
Cuggiah
Interessante.......
Ma non passa mai.
Bene che le pagine siano poche.
Per me troppo reporter e poco romanzo.
Rose
Interesting in places, but I found it overall a collection of somewhat mediocre magazine articles.
Maggie
Probably one of the most poorly written books that I have ever read.
Genemar
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David Padilla
David Padilla marked it as to-read
Aug 23, 2015
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