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At once an intimate biography and an epic history-the extraordinary life and times of Monk Eastman, gangstercumWorld War I hero. Neil Hansonrs"s revelatory account uncovers the true story of one of the most notorious and enigmatic figures of the gangster era. Monk was born in 1873 into a respectable New York family, and by the age of eighteen he was running wild in Manhattanrs"s rough Lower East Side. Working as a bouncer in seedy nightclubs, Monk developed a loyal following of immigrant toughs, and by 1900 he was the most feared gang leader in lower Manhattan, protected by corrupt politicians and crooked cops, and commanding an army of two thousand pickpockets, thieves, prostitutes, and thugs. Monkrs"s territory slipped from his grasp when, after a pitched battle with Pinkerton detectives, he was sent to Sing Sing to serve a ten-year sentence. In 1917, no longer safe from the law-or rival gangs-he joined the New York National Guard and was soon fighting in the trenches along the Franco-Belgian border. There, repeatedly risking his life for his fellow soldiers, he redeemed, at least in part, his gangland past. A fascinating story of an incredible life, and a vivid portrait of the underbelly of old New York.
Neil Hanson is also the author of The Confident Hope of a Miracle and Unknown Soldiers. He lives in the Yorkshire Dales in England.