The Bronx is Burning

‘Mahler recreates the city as it was in 1977, giving only what background information is necessary and sparing us an over-lengthy analysis of anything after that year’s World Series. This story happens, for the most part, over one hot summer, when New York was still dirty. (Really dirty, and in more than one sense of the word.) As in any summer there is baseball, and the racially-charged enmity between Yankees manager Billy Martin and Yankees superstar Reggie Jackson forms the core narrative of this book. Mahler builds a parallel narrative from the ’77 mayoral race, in which wonkish mayor Abe Beame went head to head with doublewide personality Bella Abzug and the then unknowns, fumbling idealist Mario Cuomo and successful pragmatist Ed Koch. Baseball and politics are usurped by two frightening interludes: the July blackout that led to devastating looting in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, and the Son of Sam serial killings, which put all disco-dancing brunettes on guard.’

From Anna Godbersen’s Esquire review of Ladies and Gentlemen: The Bronx is Burning by Jonathan Mahler.