The Big Crowd: Book summary and reviews of The Big Crowd by Kevin Baker

The Big Crowd

by Kevin Baker

The Big Crowd by Kevin Baker
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2013
    432 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Based on one of the great unsolved murders in mob history, and the rise-and-fall of a real-life hero, The Big Crowd tells the sweeping story of Charlie O'Kane. He is the American dream come to life, a poor Irish immigrant who worked his way up from beat cop to mayor of New York at the city's dazzling, post-war zenith. Famous, powerful, and married to a glamorous fashion model, he is looked up to by millions, including his younger brother, Tom. So when Charlie is accused of abetting a shocking mob murder, Tom sets out to clear his brother's name while hiding a secret of his own.

The charges against Charlie stem from his days as a crusading Brooklyn DA, when he sent the notorious killers of Murder, Inc., to the chair - only to let a vital witness go flying out a window while under police guard. Now, out of office, Charlie lives in a shoddy, Mexico City tourist hotel, eaten up with regrets and afraid he will be indicted for murder if he returns to the U.S. To uncover what really happened, Tom must confront stunning truths about his brother, himself, and the secret workings of the great city he loves.

Moving from the Brooklyn waterfront to city hall, from the battlefields of World War II to the beaches of Acapulco, to the glamorous nightclubs of postwar New York, The Big Crowd is filled with historical powerbrokers and gangsters, celebrities and socialites, scheming cardinals and battling, dockside priests. But ultimately it is a brilliantly imagined, distinctly American story of the bonds and betrayals of brotherhood.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[Baker] takes another juicy bite out of the Big Apple, demonstrating once again that nobody does old New York - in all its glamour and its grit - better." - Booklist

"Most of the telling is through dialogue, and Baker's re-creation of the cadences and diction of another time is impressive…Best of all, the novel delivers on what the title promises, a detailed rendering of the relationships within that era's power cabal" - The New York Times Book Review
The Big Crowd is nothing short of a modern masterpiece. Kevin Baker brings the docks of New York and all their intrigue back to life in vivid detail, combining the historical and the human into a deeply affecting story that connects the past to the present in a way that many novels attempt but few manage." - Steven Galloway , author of The Cellist of Sarajevo

"With The Big Crowd, Kevin Baker earns the title of Best American Historical Novelist - heck, maybe best American novelist, period. This inspired, fun, serious, thought-provoking, page-turning book gives all the good, old pleasures: if you read it on the subway, be prepared to miss your stop." - Darin Strauss , author of Half a Life

The information about The Big Crowd shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Kevin Baker (born 1958) is an American novelist, historian, and journalist. He was born in Englewood, New Jersey, and grew up in New Jersey and Rockport, Massachusetts.

He has been a professional writer since the age of 13, working originally for the Gloucester Daily Times, Gloucester, Mass., as a stringer covering covering school-boy sports. He had to learn to type to keep the job. He graduated from Columbia University, where he majored in political science, in 1980.

Baker is the author of the forthcoming novel, The Big Crowd, a work of historical fiction about political corruption and one of the most infamous mob murders in New York City history. He is also the co-author of the forthcoming Reggie Jackson memoir, Becoming Mr. October.

Baker's "City of Fire" trilogy, published by HarperCollins , consisted of the following historical novels: Dreamland (1999); the bestselling Paradise Alley (2002); and Strivers Row (2006)--all concerning critical moments in the history of New York and America. Paradise Alley was the winner of the 2003 James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Fiction, and the American Book Award.

Other works include a contemporary baseball novel called Sometimes You See it Coming (1993, Crown), and the graphic novel, Luna Park, illustrated by Danijel Zezelj (DC Comics, 2009). Baker was chief historical researcher on Harold Evans's illustrated history of the United States, The American Century. He is also the author of America, The Story of Us (Melcher, 2010), the companion book to the History Channel series of the same name, and wrote the new final chapter for the reissue of Baseball, the companion book to Ken Burns' 10-part film, "Baseball," which has aired on public television.

Baker resides in New York, where he is a contributing editor to Harper's Magazine. He was formerly a columnist for American Heritage magazine and the New York Observer, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Military History, and many other periodicals. Baker has appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal and The Colbert Report, and is a member of the board of the Society of American Historians, and the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition.

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