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

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  172 ratings  ·  34 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...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 349)
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Jonathan
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.
David
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.
Thomas
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
Nycdreamin
"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...more
Scott
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
Kit Fox
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
Nascha
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...more
Joanne7758 Hoffman
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
Colin N.
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
KD McQuain
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.
Andrew
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...more
Susan
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.
Denis
Fast paced, entertaining read detailing New York City's drug war in the 1980s, centered around the Lower East Side and two narcotics cops.
Julia Good-Reads
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...more
Darren
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).
Jeff
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.

Simon
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
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
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.
Beth
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.
Sami
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
Ellen
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
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
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.
Jessica
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.
Matt Peters
A great portrait of Alphabet City and the heroin trade there in the 1980s. Lots of good background and historical info presented in an engaging style.
Allan
Interesting cop's eye view of crime in NYC. Lacks momentum at times due to continuous digressions from the main theme.
Jillian
Hello New York City, 1980s!!! Totally digging this, the crime, the grime, the place I shoulda been....
Tim Bates
About an up-an-coming policeman in the city bent on attacking the drug trade...pretty good
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