Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Alphaville: 1988, Crime, Punishment, and the Battle for New York City's Lower East Side” as Want to Read:
Alphaville: 1988, Crime, Punishment, and the Battle for New York City's Lower East Side
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Alphaville: 1988, Crime, Punishment, and the Battle for New York City's Lower East Side

3.63  ·  Rating Details  ·  244 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
A raw, gritty memoir—part true-life cop thriller, part unputdownable history of a storied time and place—that will grip you by the throat until the explosive end

Alphabet City in 1988 burned with heroin, radicalism, and anti-police sentiment. Working as a plainclothes narcotics cop in the most high-voltage neighborhood in Manhattan, Detective Sergeant Mike Codella earned th
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Alphaville, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Alphaville

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 508)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
I really wasn't that crazy about this book on a number of different levels, but the author's voice is just so engaging and enjoyable that I couldn't help but like it anyway. My main problem with it was the jumping around in time and space. This was mostly intentional, telling a sort of "weave" story of Codella's hardboiled upbringing in Canarsie in a neighborhood of wiseguys and cops, crossed with the edgy world of Alphabet City in the '80s. However, at times it lapsed into that thing that cop-m ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Nycdreamin rated it really liked it
"Alphaville: 1988, Crime, Punishment, and the Battle for New York City's Lower East Side," is just the latest in a long line of books written by former NYC police officers. Some of them are good...this one is really good.

In "Alphaville," author Michael Codella (known on the streets as "Rambo") relates stories from the days back in the mid-late 1980's when he and his partner, Gio (aka "Fastback") worked to help clean up the drug-riddled streets of New York City's Lower East Side, specifically tar
Kit Fox
Sep 15, 2014 Kit Fox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bit of a real-life version of The Shield here, though Michael Codella seems significantly less evil than Vic Mackey. You've got a Brooklyn-hardened, fight-loving cop who "plays by his own rules," often with IA trying to jam him up seven ways to Sunday, but "damn it, he gets results." Again, literally. Interesting (if poorly/oddly punctuated) glimpse into a time when Manhattan was much more John Carpenter-ish—these days you don't have to be a millionaire to live in Alphabet City, but it doesn't h ...more
I really enjoyed reading this fast paced true crime biography. Alphaville focuses on the history of Michael Codella, an NYPD housing officer, who took on major drug traffickers in the 1980's Alphabet City, a subsection of the Lower East Side.

In between bits of true life criminal incidents, Codella shares history about the mafia, drug trafficking and pharmaceutical drugs in America. He also paints a clear picture of life on the Lower East Side (LES) for addicts, dealers and the every day working
Colin N.
Jul 26, 2011 Colin N. rated it liked it
Excellent memoir about a police officer in the 80s attempting to take down a heroin ring in Alphabet City. It's a well-structured book, reading at times like a crime novel as you follow the drama of the author's attempts to move beyond street-level busts and arrest the guys in charge. But these sections are also intersticed with the author's personal story of growing up in NYC and becoming a cop and info on the history of the drug trade in NYC. The book uses dialogue to good effect and is really ...more
Mar 05, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
Tons of gritty realism, some fascinating history surrounding the region of Alphabet City, New York as well as the origins of the popular rise in Heroin use. Those are the points which made this hold my attention and kept me turning the pages.

What disappointed me slightly was that there was no firm conclusion, no further details on what happened to Mike Codella following the events in the book and a slightly irritating and utterly redundant use of alternating chapters describing the rise of Codel
Julia Good-Reads
Nov 03, 2013 Julia Good-Reads rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Totally loved it. I love NYC but I didn't move here until 1996, so I'm always a little jealous of the memories people have who grew up and lived here during the grittier times - reading about those days is a way of sharing in the past that I missed.
Michael Codella writes in a very exciting way and often with some laugh out loud humor, and really brings parts of NYC's past to life. There is some incorrect grammar but I think the editor chose to leave it in to keep a realistic conversational style
Jul 09, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book via the book St. Marks Place - which referenced this.... Michael Codella was a cop, Brooklyn born who dove full-on into working Ave D in the late 80s as a plainclothes narcotics cop. Absolutely amazing. What I enjoyed most was the depth of this memoir - which goes into his own history, a history of the city, of the police, of the drug trafficing and the heroin trade. Ave D and 3rd St. was the hot spot and Mike and his partner Gio knew everyone and everything that was going on. ...more
K.D. McQuain
Sep 14, 2014 K.D. McQuain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Very interesting and well written book about a turbulent time and place that I called home. I liked all the background stories and history that led the mid-eighties heroine epidemic. However, it does make it seem as if Rambo never left the Avenue D projects. I remember having drinks at Vazac's with a friend who was an undercover housing cop in those same projects and wondering / hoping that no one he was investigating would turn up.
Apr 19, 2011 Darren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The language gets a little rough at times, but it's a very interesting account of policing in NY in the 80's/90's. It's a stark reminder of how bad crime was, before NY finally got a mayor who had the will to fight back.

As a measure of how much things have changed, I re watched "Escape from New York", which seemed chillingly real back in the 80's and totally hokey now (although being 25 years older might play a part in that).
Apr 09, 2011 Jonathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meandering biography slash history of the New York drug trade, with occasional reader-friendly mafia anecdotes and Goodfellas references? Or self-serving narrative of a retired cop known as "Rambo" (aka "John Stu") who recounts busting perps and saving damsels on the Lower East Side, while walking all over the rules to get things done? At least in fiction these guys face consequences for their choices.
Mar 26, 2011 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another gritty book about the New York drug trade in the 1980s, Alphaville is interesting, but a bit dated; most of the bad guys are probably dead by now, and the cops all retired. Still, it's an insider's look at big-city police work and worth a read on a day when the library or B&N have nothing better to offer.
Jul 11, 2014 Denis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fast paced, entertaining read detailing New York City's drug war in the 1980s, centered around the Lower East Side and two narcotics cops.
Aug 29, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not high literature but for people who like to read about the drug trade in the 80's and 90's or cop memoirs - really enjoyable.
John Lo
Jan 26, 2016 John Lo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book. I lived in the area at the time this book takes place, and I've been meaning to read this for some time, and finally have. Wish I would have read it earlier. It's a real deal account about Det Codella and his partners, and what he had to endure in order to finally put an end to the drug dealing down in Alphabet City in the 80's. Codella sacrifices, and risks his job, often breaking rules in order to take the procedural handcuffs off to get things done. The dealers, killers, and thugs ...more
Jan 19, 2011 Scott rated it liked it
A memoir of sorts, by a NYC police detective--nicknamed Rambo--who grew up in Canarsie (a neighborhood where mobbed-up families lived in harmony with cop families), joined the force, worked for the housing police in Coney Island, then, where and when the bulk of Alphaville takes place, on the Lower East Side in the mid- to late-1980s, specifically the Riis and Wald projects along Avenue D, a true World Capital of heroin dealing and consumption. More a collection of cop stories--sometimes funny, ...more
Jun 04, 2016 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to give this book more stars but the arrogance,the sweeping generalizations of other officers wouldn't allow it. I know law enforcement,and this guy is a special case. Did he do good , hell yeah, did he alienate sure did.
Mar 09, 2011 Joanne7758 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book written is about the heroin trade in Alphabet City in the 1980s. It was impossible to book this book down even though it was in equal parts horrifying, annoying, heart-breaking and, occasionally, hysterically funny. Mike Codella is the cop who wrote this, and he and his partner, Gio, (according to him) practically took on the pimps, dealers and hookers themselves while bending every rule the NYPD has. I'm not sure if this book is supposed to make me feel better about cops or drug deale ...more
David Ward
Alphaville 1988: Crime, Punishment and the Battle for New York City's Lower East Side by Michael Codella and Bruce Bennett (St. Martin's Press 2010) (363.2092). A front line account of the drug war on the streets of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Uniformed and undercover police officers seek to outflank street hustlers who deal in $10 bags of heroin or crack from the 1980's through the present day. My rating: 7/10, finished 5/5/15.
Nov 13, 2014 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read. This is a gritty memoir of Alphabet City in the 80s. The author was a plain clothes NYC policeman, who eventually worked with the DEA. Having lived on the Lower East Side during those years, I can tell you this is the read deal. Visiting there today you could never imagine what it was like 25 years ago. My only criticism of the book was that I wish he would have included more about the Thompkins Square riots.

Oct 14, 2013 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good look at New York at it's most smacked out and destitute told from the perspective of a police man who was there fighting against the rampant heroin trace in alphabet city.
At times the book feels like it has been cut and pasted together so familiar are some of the stories they tell but overall it gives a good overview of what went wrong and how New York ended up with such a huge problem for so long.
Martin  Poblete
Jan 04, 2014 Martin Poblete rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About a NYC Cop and his stories of when he patrolled the rough areas of NYC.Very eye opening to what he saw and experienced there. It also got me thinking of the drug addicts and homeless people there , and you wonder what happened in their lives to suddenly go in a meaningless direction. a life with no purpose.
Sarra Lord
Apr 26, 2011 Sarra Lord rated it liked it
Repetitive, yet still interesting, mostly because I grew up in NYC during the period that the author is writing about. Not in one of the projects but I was certainly aware of them, and I hung out a little bit in the Lower East Side and Tompkins Square Park before it got cleaned up and gentrified.
Jan 29, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is another book I listened to on my iPod. It was a great listen - narrated with a true-life Brooklyn accent - and an inside look into policing the Lower East Side's Alphabet City in the 1980s. Great characters, well-described. I enjoyed this book.
Michael Pelligrini
Best read in a long time

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know about police work in a big city. They guys put their lives on the line everyday. they usually don't get a thank you. I want to say thank you.
Apr 02, 2013 Sami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A New York City cops "no holds barred" look back at the fight against heroin in the worst parts of New York. The best 'true crime' book I have read so far. I couldn't put it down and left wanting for more
Once I put this book down, I really couldn't get it started again.

(4/14) Never seen this before, but the title is incorrect in Goodreads -- it's actually set in 1988 (which makes much more sense anyway).
John Treanor
Sep 18, 2011 John Treanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a winner. A great look at the 80's Lower East Side heroin trade through the eyes of one of the cops that was on the scene. Well-written and honest. I could read ten of these.
Matt Maxwell
Nov 13, 2012 Matt Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid street-level biography of Canarsie kid turned NYPD Housing cop turned drug cop on the lower east side. Good details, excellent atmosphere, plenty of rule-bending fun for all.
Jun 29, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nyc-non-fiction
The story of one cop's battle against heroin dealers on the lower east side in the late 1980s. Brutally honest and action packed and throughly enjoyable.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 16 17 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Last Gangster
  • Mafia Cop
  • High: Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler
  • Cold Case
  • Snowblind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade
  • All Around the Town
  • Takedown: The Fall of the Last Mafia Empire
  • On the Run: A Mafia Childhood
  • Murder, Inc.: The Story Of The Syndicate
  • Born to Steal: When the Mafia Hit Wall Street
  • Homicide Special: A Year with the LAPD's Elite Detective Unit
  • King of the Godfathers
  • Born Fi' Dead: A Journey Through The Jamaican Posse Underworld
  • To Kill the Irishman: The War That Crippled the Mafia
  • Al Capone and His Gang
  • Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life
  • Bonnie and Clyde: The Lives Behind the Legend
  • Mississippi Mud: Southern Justice and the Dixie Mafia

Share This Book