Gangsters and Gold Diggers: Old New York, the Jazz Age, and the Birth of Broadway
Book: Gangsters and Gold Diggers: Old New York, the Jazz Age, and the Birth of Broadway , by Jerome Charyn, ISBN10: 1560256435, ISBN13: 9781560256434, Da Capo Press, December 2004, Paperback
In this rousing tribute to an unforgettable time and place, Jerome Charyn picks up where Gangs of New York left off and transports readers back to a swaggering, golden era in American lifethe Roaring Twentieswhen Broadway the street exploded into Broadway the legend. Charyn looks at the men and women who helped make the Big Street the most glamorous place on the planet, from Mae West to Fanny Brice, Legs Diamond to Irving Berlin, Scott Fitzgerald to Arnold Rothstein, and many more. In cinematic prose and numerous photographs, Charyn captures Broadway’s vagabondage, outlaw culture, and self-mythologizing. He brings a rollicking, rough-and-tumble period in New York history to lifeconjuring an intoxicating portrait of Jazz Age excess by examining the denizens of that greatest of all staggering machine[s] of desire,” the street known as Broadway.
The Washington Post
Scott and Zelda are here, and the movie star Louise Brooks, and Gilbert Seldes, the critic who stooped from the empyrean heights where most cultural interpreters dwelt to notice that George Herriman's comic strip "Krazy Kat" was one of the wittiest fables being spun in America. It was the heyday of Gloria Swanson and Bessie Smith and Ruby Keeler, of Al Jolson and Bert Williams and Jack Johnson. If you have only a nodding acquaintance with most of these luminaries, Charyn's book is a kind of primer on them, not to mention jazz babies, red hot mamas, gold diggers, "Hello, suckers!" and why Al Jolson deserves our attention even though he often performed in blackface. Dennis Drabelle
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