At the height of the Civil War, what begins with strong words and a few broken bottles will, over the course of five days, escalate into the worst urban conflagration in American history. Hundreds of thousands of poor Irish immigrants smolder with resentment against a war and a president that have cost them so many of their young men. When word spreads throughout New York'...more
You have to feel sorry for this author. If you're Kevin Baker, how do you write a novel about the Draft Riots without making the Irish immigrants look like the bad guys? This was the worst race riot in American history, and it lasted for over a week. More than that, after the riots were over the Irish ...more
Baker's descriptions of New York City could be more pungent only with scratch 'n' sniff inserts. While Dreamland rose ...more
Paradise Alley is a small street populated by a mix of economic and racial folks. We’re concerned with three househ ...more
I also LOVED the description of the Irish famine, it was horrible and vividly real.
The first 400 pages of the book are about Ruth, an irish girl, who came over to the US with Dolan (a brute she met over in ireland and who saved her life). His entire family died during the potato famine of the 40s and he's going to NYC where his Sister Deirdre lives. She is married to Tom wh ...more
Organized by character (similar to Game of Thrones, but actually Irish rather than pseudo-Irish), each chapter follows a particular person over the course of the 1863 draft riots. The stories are overlapping and interwoven, som ...more
While there are an infinite array of threads to this story, the major character focus is on the three women of the saga, all residents of the waterfront slum called Paradise Alley. Having survived everything from the Irish famine to slavery and prostitution, they find themselves once again struggl ...more
Basically, the novel takes place over the course of a few days although ...more
Baker is a terrific writer, but I couldn't wait for this one to be over.