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Five Points Paperback – Sep 24 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (Sept. 24 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452283612
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452283619
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.9 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #442,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Tyler Anbinder has so thoroughly re-created Five Points that the stench of life there all but rises from its pages. -- New York Daily News

About the Author

Tyler Anbinder is an Associate Professor of History at The George Washington University. His first book, Nativisim and Slavery, was also a New York Times Notable Book and the winner of the Avery Craven Prize of the Organization of American Historians.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Jan. 19 2004
Format: Paperback
I live and work just a few blocks from the intersection that was once known as the Five Points. Since I moved to the neighborhood, I've been something of a local history buff. Thus this book wasn't as informative to me as it would probably be to most readers. That does, however give me a perspective from which I can judge its strengths and weaknesses. First off, the books main weakness is the way the author chose to focus very arbitrarily on the area around the Five Points as a single neighborhood, as though the areas to the north, east and west were different neighborhoods. The Five Points was an intersection, not a neighborhood. It's true that 19th Century writers did refer to the area around the Five Points using the phrase "Five Points" as a metonymic reference for the area, but it's quite misleading to claim, is Andinder implicitly does, that the Five Points was a neighborhood distinct from the Lower East Side, for example. Then, as now, the Lower East Side, referred to a quite wide area, and the Five Points region was really just a specific part of the Lower East Side. There are other points too. But aside from that quibble, the focus on just those few blocks gives the book as a whole a somewhat blinkered quality.
The books greatest strength was in the research Anbinder did on the Irish immigrants who made up the bulk of the population of that area in the mid 19th century. It was very interesting to learn that such a large proportion of them came from a small number of Estates in the Old Country. That was not something I'd picked up from any other sources. Even there, however, Anbinder left me frustrated.
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Format: Paperback
Although I am an avid NYC history fan, I must admit that I knew next to nothing about the Five Points prior to the release of the movie 'Gangs of New York'. That movie sparked an intrest in me for that area, that has yet to cease...This book takes you into that exact setting, and separates the truths from the myths. The cronological timeline of maps is one of the things I found to be quite interesting as well. I also thought it was quite amazing that the author dedicated entire chapters to some of the more imfamous sites such as The Old Brewery and Paradise Park.
Sometimes I wish more of these things were preserved and still viewable today; but I guess the Five Points was an area the city simply wanted to rid itself of...And they did a good job. The five-pointed intersection has been reduced to two 'points', and the site contains no plaques or historical landmark signs whatsoever (Unless you want to count the plaques at nearby Foley Square).
Hundreds of people casually stroll through the area every week, without a clue about the historical significance of the ground they walk on...However; if they were to go back in time 150 years, I'm quite sure that wouldn't be the case. The corner of Baxter and Worth will always be a special place for me...One of the few ghostly remains of a bygone era of poverty and corruption in the city, and a silent reminder to anyone who cares, of just how far the city has progressed and evolved since then.
This book is definately worth your time.
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Format: Paperback
First off, I must point out that I work about eight blocks away from the infamous Five Points intersection in New York City. Also, I am very familiar with American history. With these two points mentioned, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed and learned alot from this book. If you are considering reading "Five Points", it is very important that you assess beforehand what you hope to get out of this book. It has the potential to be either VERY rewarding and informative to you OR, to bore the life out of you and make you want to fling it in the trash! This book is certainly NOT for the casual reader. It is remarkably detailed and meticulous in research chock full of 66 pages of footnotes and a small font, select bibliography of five pages. I had the great advantage of being able to walk over on my lunch hour and follow the included maps around the neighborhood to see where these locations were and, in some cases, see the still standing buildings mentioned in the text. If you are not from New York City or familiar with it's history, this book can be painfully tedious. If this book was a college course, I would estimate it to be either of the 300 or 400 level.
Some may take issue with the way the material is arranged. Trying to write about a whole neighborhood with so many layers of diverse history is no easy task. I personally enjoyed the format once I got used to it. Anbinder starts each chapter with a prologue vignette of a few pages describing an event or person who well exemplifies the topic following in the main chapter. I found myself going back at the end of each chapter and re-reading the prologue with the new information just gleaned in mind.
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Format: Paperback
Great book on NYC history. Anbinder has done a good job of digging up what may seem to the casual reader as ancillary - or even tediously unnecessary - information. But going through church rolls and Emigrant Savings bank records gives a very personal and human touch to the information. This wasn't just a "slum;" this was a thriving neighborhood, in a packed city, with a multitude of characters, displaying the best and worst of human behavior.
A good text for a serious history student. Scorcese fans who want a companion book to his recent movie should get Herb Asbury's instead, which has proven to be part history, part mythology, and more in step with the film.
Sure, it was a rough neighborhood, but it can't possibly be any worse than any New York neighborhoods of the 20th century. Anbinder merely gives us the evidence that New York, for all its changes, is a timeless City.
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