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Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,276 Ratings  ·  291 Reviews
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
 
Scheduled for release in July 2007 as an ESPN original miniseries, starring John Turturro as Billy Martin, Oliver Platt as George Steinbrenner, and Daniel Sunjata as Reggie Jackson.
 
A kaleidoscopic portrait of New York City in 1977, The Bronx Is Burning is the story of two epic battles: the fight between Yankee Reggie Jackson and t
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Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 21st 2006 by Picador (first published 2005)
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Patrick McCoy
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports
There’s been a lot of talk about the nostalgia of the gritty New York of the 70s when it seemed the city was about to implode. If there was one point in which that was a distinct possibility it must have been the summer of 1977-when the serial killer Son of Sam haunted the city, a black out resulted in wide spread looting and debilitating arson fires. But it was also the search for leadership of the city as four mayoral candidates clashed for the liberal nomination for what was a bastion of libe ...more
Tyler
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nyc, baseball
As a NYC history and baseball fan, this book is made for me. I can see why this was made into a mini-series. There's so much to work with and it's all interesting. The book does a good job in getting the broad strokes for many stories and players involved and it reads like a magazine article. The key is that it rarely feels too simplified. It flows well and you get the point and it's all interesting. I'm intrigued by the vastness of NYC and this book does a good job in getting that across while ...more
Emma
Jan 25, 2014 rated it liked it
The promised "kaleidoscopic" view of New York City that Mahler attempts, is both a virtue and a fault. His two main threads are the 1977 Yankees baseball season, and the 1977 Democratic mayoral primary. The latter is much, much stronger than the former, in my opinion. This might not be true in the adapted miniseries, where the Yankees get to take center stage. However, on paper, the battles between Koch, Cuomo, Abzug, and Beame are much more involving. Part 2, Mahler's blow-by-blow account of th ...more
Roy
Jul 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to understand The City.
In 1979, two-years after the action of this book, I was born, and my parents moved the family from a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment on Central Park West to a house in Westchester. Now I know why. This is the story of the City in the bad old days, possibly at its bottoming out.

This is a great time to look back on the City and where it has come over the last 30-years. Currently, the stories in the papers are about gentrification and the return of the white, middle- and upper- class, not its fligh
...more
Silvio111
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating method of recording history: in this case, through the time lens of 1977 via baseball, politics, crime, and social history.

New York City has gone through a lot of changes since 1977. I grew up in North Jersey, only experiencing the City through day trips to see movies, the ballet, and occasionally to make a major shopping purchase at Bonwit Teller or Macy's. Everything I remember from 1977 was an outsider's knowledge, gained from radio, tv, or the newspapers, IF, as a 20-so
...more
John
Oct 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me forever to finish this book, but I finally did. It's basically about the summer of 1977 in New York City, which was a crazy chapter in the city's history. The city was bankrupt, crime and poverty were at an all-time high. The Son of Sam serial killer was on the loose. A pivotal mayoral race was taking place (which Ed Koch ultimately won), and the Yankees had a very memorable second half of the season and post-season, involving Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, and George Steinbrenner. A m ...more
Ali
Sep 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
I know that some of my friends must be doing a double-take to see me give five stars to a book that's non-fiction and largely about baseball -- two things that I generally don't care for.

Sure, it helped that the book -- while set within the framework of the 1977 baseball season and the clash of egos between Reggie Jackson and Billy Martin -- was also about New York City politics and social history. But Mahler still managed to write a page-turner that made me look forward to what happened next i
...more
Travis Hill
Mar 21, 2016 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars. Some parts of this book were great, but other parts dragged. The biggest flaw was the author was basically trying to tell multiple different stories without doing enough to connect them. Specifically, the story of the '77 Yankees is basically a separate story from the rest of the book. In the early chapters, I found the Yankees chapters to be the most compelling and interesting, as he dove into the different characters, while the other story lines plodded along slowly. But later in ...more
itpdx
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I will be visiting NYC later this year and this was an excellent book to review and put into perspective some of the city's recent history. Mahler's descriptions of the 1977 black out and riots and the mayoral race were wonderful. He gave me an understanding of the personalities and the shifting political scene in New York as the city faced bankruptcy and the old patronage systems began to fade. He brings the blackout story to the personal level with the story of what happened in Con Edison's Co ...more
Jill Hutchinson
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
I loved this book!!! It describes the year of 1977 when New York City was gripped in near hysteria caused by the prowling murderer, the "Son of Sam", and the famous blackout which unleashed looting and burning on an unprecedented scale. Add to the mix the political campaign for mayor involving Ed Koch, Mario Cuomo, and Bella Abzug and the bankruptcy faced by NYC . Then top it off with the Yankees run for the pennant and the all too public fights between the Yankee's manager Billy Martin and his ...more
Chris
Apr 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
All the negative reviews seem to want this book to be something other than it is: if you know a lot about baseball or New York politics, this isn't for you, as it is aimed at a casual interest reader who isn't an expert in either; if you want one, cohesive narrative, this isn't for you, as it jumps between mayoral elections, baseball, an Rupert Murdoch. I'm loving it because a)I don't know much about any of those three things, but I'm interested in all of them and b)I'm not interested in any one ...more
Woody
Sep 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: white folks, gangstas an da thugs
Shelves: 11thgrade
So this book is basically about where we all live, New York, except New York in the seventies, so if you like either of those you might find this kinda interesting, I know I did being a fan of both the seventies and new york. Despite the fact that its a historical book, it kind of reads like a story. 1970's new york defininalty makes a good story, is hard to beleive that new york could have been that crappy. It talks a lot about the yankees and reggie jackson, and sometimes the club scenes in ne ...more
Jan Dawson
Dec 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting review of what happened to the Yankees, but more broadly the city of New York during the late 70s. Good for baseball fans in particular but also worth reading for anyone who loves learning about New York and its past. As a non-native New Yorker I found the history of the city and its troubles particularly illuminating. Well written, with lots of stories - the Yankees themselves, the mayoral race, the riots in the Bronx and Brookyln, the Son of Sam murders - all interwoven in a w ...more
Mike McPadden
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A near-masterpiece, marred only by the absence of a "Where Are They Now?" concluding chapter. Feverish, immersive, wry, thoroughly informative. I was there (at age nine) and this book brought me back (forever).
Erik
Sep 30, 2007 rated it did not like it
It's okay if a little pale. But as the author says he is not a native New Yorker and the sources are mostly secondary accounts. Thus the facts seem to be right but the smell of it is wrong. And I mean the smell. New York in the 70s was a unique place and you just had to be there.
Adam J.
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Excellently blends baseball, politics, and culture in a formative era in NYC history. I personally would have liked a bit more baseball and a bit less politics, but that is nitpicky. Strongly recommend.

On rereading, the politics are perfect.
Alex
Aug 18, 2015 marked it as to-read
I'm wicked interested in NYC in the 70s, so this gets good press and if you have any other suggestions - fiction or non - bring 'em on.
Patrick Gaertner
Jul 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't much care for baseball, but this book ties it together with the insanely tumultuous era of New York in 1977 to create a fascinating look at a city on the brink of chaos.
Wendy
Dec 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a fan of NYC history AND the Yankees, I was very excited to read this book. I learned alot on both fronts, but I wished there had been more chapters dedicated to the Yankees. The details about the blackout, the looting and fires, and the mayoral race were gripping. Also, the chapters about Son of Sam were riveting.
Ron
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding Synapsis of A Memorable Time In NYC History

This book illustrates perfectly a tumultuous time during my childhood. If you grew up in NYC in the 70's, this is a must read. From the Mayoral race to the blackout, the Son of Sam to the Yankees, this book covers it all completely.
Ed
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
1977: A snapshot of NYC back in the day with the infamous blackout, the mayoral race featuring Koch, Abzug, Cuomo and Beam, all woven around the Yankees world series campaign with Billy Martin and Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner. A well executed trip down memory lane.
Stacy
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
It took me a couple of tries to get into this book, but when I finally plowed through, it was worth it. A fascinating history of one year in New York City. This story has it all -- sports, race, politics, crime, sex and socioeconomics, all tied up into a thrilling story.
Phil Mullen
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I lived in the Bronx the year before and when I came across this book, ostensibly about about baseball I lapped it up. I know nothing about baseball but that didn't matter. This is a really interesting social history of an extreme period in New York's history and it is very good.
Madeleine Mamaux
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
right up my street.
Dave Fillingame
3.5 Stars. Would have rated it higher if it weren't so heavy on the baseball (which I expected).
Tom Stamper
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
What the book does well is give you the flavor of living in New York City in 1977, a time in which the city was at an all time low. New York City was such a joke when I was growing up in 1970s we couldn't believe it would ever be a place to visit. Watch the Jack Lemmon movie, the Out of Towners, and you'll see exactly what America thought of New York. And yet this pit was full of colorful characters. Bella Abzug, Mario Cuomo, and Ed Koch are running for Mayor. George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, ...more
Rich
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Loved it from start to finish...
Diana Stegall
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-is-rad
This really doesn’t hang together as well as one would expect.
Joe Musso
great NYC read
William Dutton
This book is very well written and provides an incredible sociological account of New York City in 1977. Mahler is able to weave several prominent story lines (Reggie Jackson and the Yankees, the mayoral election, Son of Sam, the blackout) to create a compelling narrative. The author could have easily kept going, and another chapter or two would have further strengthened the book. Mahler did not do a great job with the conclusion and may have benefitted from interviews of residents or some other ...more
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