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Billy Bathgate

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  4,888 Ratings  ·  270 Reviews
In the Bronx of the 1930s, 15-year-old Billy Bathgate hooks up with a legendary mobster, Dutch Schultz. Schultz becomes an unlikely surrogate parent to the boy, introducing him to the ways of the world and training Billy to follow in his footsteps. After Billy falls for Schulz's latest girlfriend, he begins to question the actions of the mob he was so eager to join. As he ...more
Hardcover, Large Print
Published October 1st 1990 by G.K. Hall & Company (first published 1989)
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Andy Miller There are violent scenes but most of them are far from gratuitous. Billy is never directly involved in the violence of the gang, only recounting what…moreThere are violent scenes but most of them are far from gratuitous. Billy is never directly involved in the violence of the gang, only recounting what he witnesses or is told from a distance. There are a few graphic moments but nothing extreme by the standards of gangster stories. (less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bill  Kerwin
May 28, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picaresque

This picaresque novel about Bronx-born “Billy Bathgate” Behan, a street urchin and errand-boy for the Dutch Schulz mob, memorably evokes the tough urban streets of the early '30's, but its principal achievement is the voice of the first person narrator, “Billy Bathgate” himself.

Like his literary ancestor Huckleberry Finn, Billy speaks naturally, with colloquial snap and humor. He describes his streets and adventures in the way that an intelligent boy of his age would see them, and he soon convin
...more
Derek
The simple truth is no one writes Historical Fiction like Doctorow does. Like Ragtime, like Book of Daniel, like Homer & Langley, Billy Bathgate is an awesome read that not only tells an individual story, but captures an era so well you are helpless but to be drawn wholly into the romanticism of that era. This is a coming-of-age story, but unlike most stories like that, Billy Bathgate is presented to us in one of the most moving narrative voices ever to grace that niche. Billy, for all his i ...more
Irene
Jun 19, 2016 Irene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doctorow is such a master wordsmith. His vocabulary is impressive, his turn of phrase striking, the cadence in his character’s voices is captivating. This is Billy’s story of his attempt to escape his impoverished tenement neighborhood in the 1930s by affiliation with a well-known gang of mobsters. This runs from funny to morbid, from tender to cruel with amazing agility. I enjoyed this book. My only problem was that Billy’s narrative voice was too sophisticated for a minimally educated 15 year ...more
Donna
This is not a book I would have chosen to read on my own, even though I enjoy historical fiction and coming of age stories. I'm just not that interested in gangsters or reading about what I imagined would be a lot of graphic violence. But since my book club wanted to read this book to honor the author who passed away earlier this year, I joined in. And to my amazement, I became fascinated with gangster life and the hierarchy within it. And I had no problem with the violence which was even less p ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This was fun! There were a couple of instances of somewhat graphic violence - this was Dutch Schultz's gang - but not in a squeamish way and so much that I was fearful. There was also a somewhat graphic sex scene. It was probably a lot more graphic when first published in 1989, but sex in books has become more graphic of late, and I think this might be a bit mild.

Doctorow's prose is interesting. He is a bit free with his sentence structure and there were a couple of times I went back to reread,
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Jul 20, 2015 Ahmad Sharabiani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, fiction, 1001-book
189. Billy Bathgate – E.L. Doctorow
در دوران رکود اقتصادی تاریخی، در سال های 1930، در محله ی فقر زده ی برانکس نیویورک، گانگستری به نام داچ شولتز، پسرکی را در خیابان میبیند، که با همسالانش شعبه بازی میکند، او به عنوان دستخوش، یک اسکناس ده دلاری به او میدهد. از آن لحظه به بعد، پسر، بیلی باتگیت، با زندگی داچ شولتز و دار و دسته اش، گره میخورد. بیلی، بعدها مشاهدات و تجربه های شگفت آورش در زندگی، جنایت، عشق و مرگ در میان گانگسترهای نیویورک را، در این کتاب مینویسد. سبک رمان حاضر بی شک، پست مدرن است. باز
...more
Sia7ash
Dec 23, 2015 Sia7ash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
داستان از کودکی بیلی شروع میشه که در محله ی فقیر ِ نیویورک زندگی میکنه و آشناییش با سرکرده یک باند گانگستری باعث ورودش به گروه اونها میشه . در ابتدا در جریان کارهای مهم قرار داده نمیشه تا وقتی که هوش و زرنگیش باعث میشه پیشرفت هایی داشته باشه و بهش اعتماد کنند. بیلی داستان زندگیش رو تعریف میکنه از جایی که زندگی میکرده دختری که دوستش داشته تا ورودش به دسته داچ شولتز تا اتفاقاتی که براش میوفته و رابطه ش با افراد گروه گانگسترها. با خوندن همین جزییات و توصیفاته که شخصیت های کتاب رو میشناسیم. مثل وقتی ...more
Bob
Oct 19, 2011 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doctorow, you probably are aware, is best known for a kind of historical fiction concentrating on different episodes in 20th century American history (everyone from Stanford White and Emma Goldman to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg has their story revisited). He adds a few fictional characters (typically the narrator), some propulsive but not modernist prose, and the story tells itself!
This time it is Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano and the other gangsters of the Prohibition (and just post) era. The nar
...more
Asghar Abbas
Apr 01, 2016 Asghar Abbas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Excellent, wordy but excellent.
John Perreault
Jul 09, 2010 John Perreault rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 1920s/1930s gang world is notorious for its colorful characters. Bootlegging, racketeering, and a sense of class created a veneer over the brutality of power and death that often followed these. In this novel, Doctorow looks at this life through the eyes of the tiitle character, a 15 year old who not only witnesses murders of those who turn on the main gang leader (Dutch Schultz), but also becomes almost a protege of this leader. He survives the mayhem. The ending is a bit quick and Billy Ba ...more
Donna Davis
I have to admit, E.L. Doctorow is one of those writers whose work is a sure fire hit for me. I love historical fiction, and I admire great word-smithery. Doctorow is skilled with both.

This one is a period piece, a look at a hard time and the ugly risks that some folks took from desperation and perhaps a misplaced idea of what greatness might look like. To be sure, the government wasn't exactly setting a good example; those who searched for less-than-conventional means were, in my view, right to
...more
Jean Poulos
Aug 01, 2015 Jean Poulos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doctorow died in July 2015, so I checked my records to see what books of his I had read and was surprised to find the only book I had read was “Ragtime”. It is a funny feeling; I could have sworn I had read “Billy Bathgate”. Now I have another reading project, which is to read all of Doctorow’s books.

“Billy Bathgate” is Doctorow’s eighth novel (1989). The story won the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction in 1990 and the National Book Critics Award in 1989.

The book takes place in the 1930s New York. B
...more
علی
Oct 03, 2007 علی rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I do enjoy reading Doctorow but I can't find a word, a relevant sentence, something which reveals my high respect to him and his works / novels.
بیل باتگیت با ترجمه ی زیبای نجف دریابندری به فارسی منتشر شده است.
Alisa
Apr 10, 2013 Alisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doctorow's book is a challenging read. First, the story is told from the point of view of Billy, a 15-year-old boy. Punctuation and wording are appropriate to the speaker. Second, the story is not told in chronological order, and I had some trouble figuring out the chronology of the events. These aspects of the text didn't discourage me from reading the book, but if you're looking for a fast and easy read, this book is not for you.

Billy Behan is a 15-year-old boy who gets involved with Dutch Sch
...more
Amar
May 26, 2011 Amar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, a fifteen year old kid admires mob life. One day, while this kid is juggling for his friends, the great mobster Dutch Schultz rolls up in a big Packard, steps out and, upon seeing Billy juggling five objects, smiles and calls young Billy over. He pulls out a wad of bills, peels one off and hands it to the boy.

It is this moment that defines young Billy. After this encounter, Billy ingratiates himself with Dutch Schultz and works to become, gradually, his protege, doing menial jobs a
...more
Carol
Doctorow's prose style is surprisingly smooth and hypnotic, making this book about a boy's rise through the ranks of organized crime in the 1930s a wonderful read. I was pleasantly surprised by the way Doctorow made both his protagonist and his story clear-sighted and balanced. Billy never deludes himself about the ugly and violent side of gangland life even while he is attracted by and continues to pursue it. Doctorow also gives a lot of attention to the emotional and psychological experience o ...more
Barbara
Aug 14, 2008 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: recommended by my brother
This is a remarkable book told from the viewpoint of "a capable boy" from the tenement streets of the East Bronx who is taken in by the crimeland figure Dutch Shultz. It is E.L. Doctorow at the near-peak of his powers creating a fascinating story by winding history and fiction together. My only criticism was that I didn't quite believe the romance of a sub-plot which I won't discuss here as it would create a spoiler. But, when Doctorow is describing the sites and sounds of the streets or creatin ...more
Michael
As a reader opens the pages of "Billy Bathgate" they are taken back to the days of prohibition and notorious gangsters.

One of those famous gangsters wi Dutch Schultz. He befriends Billy and becomes a father-like figure to the fifteen-year-old boy. Shultz who was born in the Bronx in 1901 built his criminal network from bootlegging, gambling and murder.

Billy lives with his mom in a run down area of Lenox Ave and 125th street. He had no father and no direction in life. He comes to idolize Schultz
...more
Joseph
Jul 08, 2009 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Per Doctorow, the language is dense and the syntax spirals on. Yet, rather than alienating or being at odds with the narrator and story, it actually makes both epic. I love the rendering of 1930s America, and I love the idea of a mob story beginning on the decline of the characters--it's more like Greek tragedy as opposed to Shakespearean (I knew things were going to fall apart, but the question was how), except of course for Bathgate. The final sentence was killer.
Kara
Nov 30, 2009 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stayed up 'til way-too-late o'clock finishing this book. Like Ragtime, Doctorow illuminates and enlivens American history -- in this case, the story of Dutch Schultz and the NYC gangster scene. Doctorow's writing style has a certain stream-of-consciousness, POV flow that initially might turn off some readers but is well worth the trouble.
Loen
Jun 20, 2010 Loen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Did anyone read this? *SPOILER ALERT* It didn't really make sense to me that Billy and his mother wound up with Drew's baby. She was very much the aborting type, and if she hadn't, I feel like she had the kind of marriage and lifestyle where they would have just left the baby with a nanny. Thoughts?
Matt
Aug 14, 2015 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a strange novel this is. I don't necessarily mean the content of the story, but more in how the narrative is laid out, and how the sentences are constructed, and how it all tries to fit together. Highly original, if nothing else. The arc of the plotline seems to turn story construction on its head, in that in starts (mini SPOILERS follow) with a taut action scene, moves to flashback, returns to the here-and-now only to find that the here-and-now has become a prolonged hideout/waiting game f ...more
Oscar
Es curioso lo que pasa con el escritor E.L. Doctorow. Me da la impresión de que es más conocido que leído, y no conozco a nadie que tenga a Doctorow como su escritor favorito. A mí me ha gustado prácticamente todo lo que he leído de él, algunos libros incluso me parecen magistrales, y sin embargo, si tuviese que dar diez nombres de escritores favoritos, por decir una cifra, no creo que apareciese en mi lista. Doctorow es un escritor con oficio, con multitud de premios a sus espaldas y varias nom ...more
Jake
Feb 20, 2012 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I am not, by nature, a big fan of literature. I read strictly for leisure and lit works, which I appreciate and admire, are not really up my ally. Not that I lack the intellectual capacity to understand and respect them, I just don't enjoy reading them.

I knew that "Billy Bathgate" is a lit book before I started reading it. However, I was really intrigued by the subject (teenager growing up in the waning days of the Dutch Schultz mob) and the accomplishments of author EL Doctorow that I decided t
...more
Debbie
Aug 08, 2013 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't exactly what I expected it to be but I'm so glad it was a winner within it's own right. I really enjoyed it. E.L. Doctorow is a new author to me whom I discovered on a whim while searching for new books here on Goodreads. From the synopsis I assumed it might be more thriller/action packed and even when it wasn't so much so, it still was a very good read for what it did bring to the table.

This is the story of a young man self christened Billy Bathgate, local neighborhood kid slash as
...more
Jo Stafford
May 26, 2014 Jo Stafford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great writing seduces me like nothing else, and this is truly great writing. While reading this novel, nothing else existed for me. Doctorow has created an unforgettable character in Billy, a 15-year-old boy from the Bronx tenements who goes to work for one of the most notorious gangsters of the 1930s, Dutch Schultz. This is a vivid portrait of the gangster milieu with its numbers-running rackets and its deadly violence. Its appeal to a poor kid with limited options and a crazy mother is not har ...more
John Cutler
Wonderful historical fiction about New York during the years of "Dutch" Schultz, the notorious Jewish gangster who ruled the Bronx in the late 1920s and early 1930s until his assassination by Lucky Luciano. The novel is narrated by Billy, a young man who is initiated into Schultz's gang roundabout 1934, just as Schultz begins his decline into paranoia and isolation from the other New York gangs. Billy's language is brooding and beautiful--Cormac McCarthy-esque--and the novel is absolutely riveti ...more
Talmadge Walker
Oct 11, 2015 Talmadge Walker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fictionalized narrative of a teenager's experiences with the Dutch Schultz gang in the 30s. Doesn't pull many punches so don't read it to your kids, but it's a wonderful story.
Realini
Sep 05, 2016 Realini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: delightful
Billy Bathgate by E.L. Doctorow
Excellent story

Billy Bathgate is the hero of a story that is mostly about the mob, the Goodfellas.

Dutch Schultz was the fierce,cruel leader of a criminal organization.

From the very start, the reader is invited to "witness" an assassination.
Bo used to be a hit man for this outfit, but he has fallen into disgrace.

So there is a gruesome chapter, the first, which depicts his dispatching.

Even if they have worked together and Bo has done a lot of "work", killing so many
...more
John Hubbard
Jun 22, 2016 John Hubbard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Billy Bathgate has grown up with his single mother in the Bronx. He occasionally goes to school and obsesses with juggling and other slights of hand. The only figure seen as a success on Bathgate Avenue is Dutch Schultz who none of the kids have actually seen in the area. One day Mr. Schultz comes with the beer drop, a drop done in the method of prohibition even though the Repeal has already happened. Billy impresses Schultz with juggling audacity and receives ten bucks. The money inspires him t ...more
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E. L. DOCTOROW’S works of fiction include Homer & Langley,The March, Billy Bathgate, Ragtime, the Book of Daniel, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, The Waterworks, and All the Time in the World. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle Awards, two PEN Faulkner Awards, The Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, and the presidential ...more
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“The story was clearly over, as in juggling when the ball you throw up finds the moment to come down, hesitates as if it might not, and then drops at the same speed of that celestial light. And life is no longer good but just what you happen to be holding.” 5 likes
“And now I will tell of the revels that went on for three nights and two days in the brothel on West Seventy-sixth Street between Columbus and Amsterdam avenues.” 1 likes
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