Whitney Pastorek
August 04, 2006 AT 04:00 AM EDT

A Pickpocket's Tale

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Timothy J. Gilfoyle
publisher
W.W. Norton
genre
Nonfiction, Biography

We gave it a B+

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. He deserved a book of his own, and of course, this son of a Chinese immigrant already had one written. Timothy J. Gilfoyle quotes from Appo’s 99-page autobiography, then follows every lead and fills in every blank to produce a spectacularly detailed look at the evolution of crime (and especially punishment) in post-Civil War America. The language in A Pickpocket’s Tale is a little dry; the subject matter is anything but.

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