A Pickpocket's Tale by Timothy J. Gilfoyle
The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York

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"A remarkable tale."—Chicago Tribune

In George Appo's world, child pickpockets swarmed the crowded streets, addicts drifted in furtive opium dens, and expert swindlers worked the lucrative green-goods game. On a good night Appo made as much as a skilled laborer made in a year. Bad nights left him with more than a dozen scars and over a decade in prisons from the Tombs and Sing Sing to the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he reunited with another inmate, his father. The child of Irish and Chinese immigrants, Appo grew up in the notorious Five Points and Chinatown neighborhoods. He rose as an exemplar of the "good fellow," a criminal who relied on wile, who followed a code of loyalty even in his world of deception. Here is the underworld of the New York that gave us Edith Wharton, Boss Tweed, Central Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge.


About Timothy J. Gilfoyle

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Timothy J. Gilfoyle is an acclaimed historian. His first book, City of Eros, won the prestigious Nevins Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians. He is professor of history at Loyola University in Chicago.
Published February 7, 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company. 480 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Crime, Children's Books. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Pickpocket's Tale

Kirkus Reviews

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Using Appo’s story, Gilfoyle teaches us about life on the streets and in the rookeries, and about 19th-century prisons and penology, theories of criminal behavior, melodrama on Broadway, police corruption (Appo rolled over on some cops, lived to regret it), opium dens, the judicial system, politi...

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The New York Times

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Sometime in the early years of the 20th century, a worn-out career criminal named George Appo took up a pen and set down the story of his life.

Aug 09 2006 | Read Full Review of A Pickpocket's Tale: The Unde...

Entertainment Weekly

George Appo was a hustler, pickpocket, and confidence man so infamous in late-19th-century New York that he turns up in Herbert Asbury's Gangs of New York, Luc Sante's Low Life, and Tyler Anbinder's Five Points.

Aug 04 2006 | Read Full Review of A Pickpocket's Tale: The Unde...

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