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1. North River: A Novel
2. The Gift: A Novel
3. A Drinking Life: A Memoir
4. Forever: A Novel
5. Snow in August
6. News Is a Verb (Library of Contemporary
7. The Guns of Heaven (Hard Case
8. Dirty Laundry
9. Downtown: My Manhattan
10. The Art of Column Writing: Insider
11. The Irish Face in America
12. Why Sinatra Matters
13. A Drinking Life Unabridged Audio
15. At Sea in the City: New York from
16. Downtown (My Manhattan)
17. Tabloid City: A Novel
18. Loving Women: A Novel of the Fifties
19. The Deadly Piece
20. A Diary of the Century: Tales

1. North River: A Novel
by Pete Hamill
Paperback: 368 Pages (2008-06-04)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$4.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002IVV3O6
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

One snowy New Year's Day, in the midst of the Great Depression, Dr. James Delaney--haunted by the slaughters of the Great War, and abandoned by his wife and daughter--returns home to find his three-year-old grandson on his doorstep, left by his mother in Delaney's care.Coping with this unexpected arrival, Delaney hires Rose, a tough, decent Sicilian woman with a secret in her past. Slowly, as Rose and the boy begin to care for the good doctor, the numbness in Delaney begins to melt.Recreating 1930s New York with the vibrancy and rich detail that are his trademarks, Pete Hamill weaves a story of honor, family, and one man's simple courage that no reader will soon forget.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (60)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent novel.Not quite as powerful as "Forever," though...
"Forever" was one of my favorite reads.As often is the case, that may have happened to be because of the time & circumstance in which I read it.I picked up "North River" expecting to enjoy a very similar reading experience.

While it did start out that way, it evolved into more of a standard story of love and loss, although it remained a thoroughly compelling and enjoyable read...even if it wasn't as gritty and complex as I'd hoped.The author writes with such marvelous, evocative detail about the NYC of yesteryear that those of us who love the city as much as he can't help but savor every page.

The ending, too, was not up to what I was anticipating (that's all I'll say...so as not to risk spoiling it for anyone), but it didn't take away from my overall enjoyment of this novel.

5-0 out of 5 stars North River
Mr. Hamill brings New York City to life again with a Great romantic story set during the Great Depression. I love the way Pete Hamill makes New York come alive!

It was through Mr. Hamill's books that I learned everything I could about the History of New York City!

3-0 out of 5 stars OK
But what I was looking for was typical Hamill: gritty and sharp.

And the first couple of chapters led me to believe I was going to get just that.But then the story devolved... almost to the point of being a Chick Book with nice, safe, predictable characters with an expected ending.

One thing even more off putting than the story's predictability was Hamill's treatment of the Tammany Hall machine that still had power in the early '30s.I don't think I've ever heard Tammany Hall referred to without the adjective "corrupt", yet Hamill presents these characters with respect. Also, while his protagonist debates over accepting much needed money from a mobster whose life he's helped save, he doesn't bat an eye when offered largess, time and again, as a result of his and his father's connections with Tammany Hall bosses.

5-0 out of 5 stars This story is beautifully crafted
In 1930 New York, the Depression is on and like the rest of America, New Yorkers are struggling to exist. Political corruption runs rampart and Dr. James Delaney, a local G.P., serves the indigent. He mourns the disappearance of his wife who left him. His daughter who leaves her child literally on his doorstep is being pursued by the FBI. Dr. Delaney saves the life of a longtime friend, who now happens to be a mobster. By doing this he puts himself and his grandson in the path of a rival gang's revenge. This story is beautifully crafted and gives a detailed look into life in Greenwich Village during the 1930s. It is a love story, love lost and found, love in human goodness, love in an unfair world.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pete Hamill was born a writer
Pete Hamill is a writer. And usually, if you are a writer, your work tells the tale, you don't have to advertise it nor you have brag about it. The sad part is that only few readers will read your book, and I am here to make sure that at least one more reader reads Pete Hamill's. If you haven't heard about this author I recommend you to start with his memoir, `The Drinking life` and then read the `North river'....Trust me, some people were born to do this, and Pete is one of them. ... Read more

2. The Gift: A Novel
by Pete Hamill
Hardcover: 160 Pages (2005-11-07)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$6.78
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000Y8Y1M6
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A powerful short novel that’s vintage Hamill--an evocative, emotionally involving tale of fathers and sons, loss and yearning, forgiveness and approbation--is restored to print.

Brooklyn, 1952. It is Christmastime and a young sailor named Pete is home on leave, temporarily liberated from the specter of war in Korea. He’s back in the old neighborhood, discovering firsthand that the girl he left behind evidently meant what she said in the Dear John letter she sent him. He’s back in the dreary Seventh Avenue apartment that his mother can ill afford to decorate for the holidays. And he’s back facing off with Billy, the gruff Irish factory worker who is his father, yet seems forever a stranger--until, on Christmas Eve, Pete pays his first visit to Rattigan’s, the local bar where his father hangs out, the place where Billy seems most fully alive. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars pete hamill was a gift to us
great book,great reading.pete hamill is a great writter, with so much thruth.growing up in brooklyn was else could be better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect story
A great novella from Pete Hammill originally written in the early 1970s, it's an elegy to a bygone era, and a love story to Brooklyn in many ways. As a current resident, it's amazing to read about the area where the story is set, which today is wealthy gentrified Park Slope, and how much it's changed. The details are amazing, and it's beautifully written. You can literally read it in a day, maybe two, but it's a wonderful little story that speaks volumes about a time and a place and it's inhabitants. I can't recommend it highly enough. Pete Hammill is truly a living treasure...

5-0 out of 5 stars Lovely little gift.
Hamill is such a wonderful writer and this little book is a gem. Pete gives us in few pages his world as a young sailor returned home at Christmas. This is a poignant read, his expiation of part of his past searching for connection with his father. He finds it in a most unconventional way.
It is a lovely little gift to his readers, too.

5-0 out of 5 stars the gift
Pete Hamil has done it again.
The Gift is a wonderful, short read, that brings in site into family life.
A great read for any "baby Boomer"

3-0 out of 5 stars The Mind of a Drinker
Pete Hamill's little book was indeed a gift for this grown daughter of an alcoholic in that it allowed a peek into the world, and more importantly the whys, of barrooms.Somebody finally captured the allure of time spent with drinking buddies instead of family on Christmas Eve. Some "Dads" are indeed proud of their families, but their condition allows them to share that only with other people who don't care. Pitiable, but true. Very short story which left a strong impression. ... Read more

3. A Drinking Life: A Memoir
by Pete Hamill
Paperback: 280 Pages (1995-04-01)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$5.58
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B002B55XHW
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
An acclaimed author offers an honest self-portrait of coming of age in a culture that considers drinking an essential part of becoming a man and reveals how it nearly destroyed his ability to write. Reprint. 60,000 first printing. Tour. NYT. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (49)

5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite book
Hamill is the type of author that is becoming an extinct breed. He writes New York City just as well as anyone, and this book is raw and honest in all the right ways. I truly enjoyed reading it and will "forever" keep this on my shelf. Alcohol takes a backseat to his own life, but his ability to recognize his need for change is truly moving, even if it is in an untraditional way. All walks of life can indentify with this memoir and I consider it a must read.

2-0 out of 5 stars A (Sort of) Drinking Life
Pete Hamill may be a good newspaper reporter, but he "buried the lead" with the title of this memoir.It has actually very little to do with drinking--at least the kind of egregious, alcoholic drinking that Fitzgerald did--and unless the author is not telling the whole story, it's not about alcoholism.Maybe it wasn't meant to be, but then, he shouldn't have called it "A Drinking Life".

Aside from the fact that I found neither the story nor its style to be particularly compelling, the main problem is the author's lack of self-reflection.There is no agonizing over his problem, no soul-searching, no cataclysmic event in which a moment of clarity leads him to sobriety.It's as if he decides one day that he's allergic to peanuts and decides to give them up.In which case, there really isn't any story here worth mentioning, at least about drinking.

Carolyn Knapp's "Drinking: A Love Story" is a much better first person account about alcoholism, and "Angela's Ashes" is one of the best books ever written on the insidiousness of alcoholism as a family illness.

However, if you're looking for a memoir about an NY Irish kid who grows up to be a reporter, this might be the book for you.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Alcoholic's Memoir, Minus The "War Stories"
I've seen a few people who have already reviewed this book bemoan the fact that Pete Hamill doesn't spend very much time going into great detail about the problems he dealt with as an alcoholic. How could he name his memoir "A Drinking Life" when it's not riddled with lurid tales of alcohol-induced drama? It's titled "A Drinking Life," I think, because it chronicles the portion of his life that happened while he was a drinker and surrounded by drinkers. The ending is dramatic because suddenly - poof! - he doesn't drink any more. Drinking problems usually creep up on people and are hard to shake; in Hamill's case, his drinking was inevitable, and the abrupt way he dropped the habit is remarkable and commendable.

Oh, and the guy knows how to string words together.

4-0 out of 5 stars The story of a drinking culture (to see all my book reviews go to beansbookblog.wordpress.com)
Pete Hamill's memoir/autobiography eloquently tells the story of a drinking culture.It is set in New York, in a poor Irish immigrant neighborhood in the 1940's.Much of the story is similar to his bestselling novel Snow in August in that a boy comes of age in an environment that values ignorant thugs over curious students, corner bars over libraries, fighting over communicating.With few sober, involved fathers, most boys grow up in a household led by a mother with too many children who ends up working a menial job just to put food on the table while the fathers spend their wages in the bar.While I assumed that Snow in August was largely based on his own neighborhood and upbringing, after reading this memoir, it's amazing just how closely one mirrors the other.So the story moves through Hamill's life from boyhood through adulthood and marriage; the constants in his life seem to be running away from who he is (or seeking sho he is?) and drinking in order to deal with it.Though well educated and clearly bright, his use of alcohol as novacaine for lifeis not much different than his father's.Hamill wanders the world wherever his writing career will take him whereas his father only wanders the neighborhood.Still, they're both wanderers who use alcohol to forget, pretend, hide.As a young boy, he's wildly into comics, and he has this fabulous line: "Comics taught me, and millions of other kids, that even the weakest human being could take a drink and be magically transformed into someone smarter, bigger, braver.All you needed was the right drink" (10).Wow.What a commentary on the culture of alcohol or escapism or altered reality.This is a great book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pete Hamill does it again
I love this man's books.I felt like I was there growing up in New York with him.So engrossing. So lovely. ... Read more

4. Forever: A Novel
by Pete Hamill
Paperback: 640 Pages (2003-01-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000ESSSHK
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This is the magical, epic tale of Cormac O'Connor, who arrives in New York City from Ireland in 1741 and remains, well, forever. For Cormac has been given the gift of immortality, but only on the condition that he never leave the island of Manhattan.Through Cormac's eyes, we watch the city transform from a burgeoning settlement on the tip of an untamed wilderness to the romantic, gaslit world of Edith Wharton's time, and finally to the pulsing, thriving metropolis of the present day. But this is also Cormac's story, as he explores the mysteries of time and immortality, death and loss, sex and love. Though his life is proof of enduring magic, the living of it takes place in a world that can be gloriously, or terribly, real. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (188)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Great book....Well written, incredible story.I love Pete Hamill's writing and this was one of his best.I like the way he blends fantasy and reality.I always learn from his books and enjoy reading about New York City in the early years.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great original concept but laden with too many characters
I have mixed feelings about this novel.The beginning one third of the story was very captivating and moving.I thought the author did a great job with character development and drawing the reader into an intriguing plot laced with bits of Irish folklore and Celtic Mythology.Somewhere around the middle, however, the story began to drag for me and became quite overrun with characters to follow.An account that takes place over more than two centuries, ending after the events of 9/11/01, lends itself to far too many characters to develop and too much history to cover with detail.As the reader, I would be just getting familiar with the newest set of characters when time would jump ahead and the process would begin all over again.I truly was interested enough to finish the book, however, the last one third was extremely laborious to get through.Anincredibly original plot and very descriptive narrative but a bit too much history to cover in 600 pages.It did lend itself to ponder the question of how difficult immortality for a single member of a family and a community would be.This is a fantasy, so the reader must suspend belief going into this.For lovers of the fantasy genre, this book will really appeal to you.For readers more interested in historical fiction, this would be quite a stretch.

5-0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK IS FABULOUS!

I read this book last summer and it made me a fan of Pete Hamill's other works. He is an excellent writer, and the plotline is original,suspenseful, and riveting. You really feel for Cormac. Thank you Pete Hamill for giving us this book. I have read and re-read it.

3-0 out of 5 stars A different shade of Tweed
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.Great original concept and story.The empathy you have for the protagonist could not be greater.But....the way in which Hamill shows his political bias is comical to say the least.He paints Boss Tweed as a nice man who did more good than harm.The fact that he was the most corrupt politician in American history just never seems to come up.He never mentions Tammany Hall or the Democratic Party political machine that fixed elections and had black men swinging from lamp posts during the Draft Riots.Instead he blames it all on Bush, mentioning the corrupt Republicans in Albany as the root cause several times.This is the biggest rewrite of history in a historical novel I have ever read.What a spinmeister Mr. Hamill has become or maybe always was as I really was unfamiliar with him until now.

1-0 out of 5 stars Pay attention to the review distribution
Do you people see that the reviews are NOT top-heavy with the positives?There is a reason for that. I can't remember reading a more ridiculous example of pc nonsense, with the author imposing our modern sensibilities on a character some 300 years back.There is no character development, no change, no learning, NO relationship dynamics.Awful.Don't waste your money.If I could give this book negative stars, I would do so infinitely. ... Read more

5. Snow in August
by Pete Hamill
Paperback: 384 Pages (1999-10-01)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446675253
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Set in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood in 1947, this poignant tale revolves around two of the most endearing characters in recent fiction: an 11-year-old Irish Catholic boy named Michael Devlin and Rabbi Judah Hirsch, a refugee from Prague.Amazon.com Review
In 1940s Brooklyn, friendship between an 11-year-old Irish Catholicboy and an elderly Jewish rabbi might seem as unlikely as, well, snowin August. But the relationship between young Michael Devlin and RabbiJudah Hirsch is only one of the many miracles large and smallcontained in Pete Hamill's novel. Michael finds himself introuble when he witnesses the 17-year-old leader of the dreadedFalcons gang beating an elderly shopkeeper. For Michael, 1940sBrooklyn is a world still shaped by life in the Old Country, a worldwhere informing on a fellow Irishman is the worst crimeimaginable--worse even than the violent crimes committed by someof those fellows. So Michael keeps silent, finding solace in thecompany of Rabbi Hirsch, a Czech refuge whom he meets by chance. Fromthis serendipitous beginning blossoms a unique friendship--one thatproves perilous to both when the Falcons catch up with them.

Interlaced with Hamill's realistic descriptions ofviolence and fear are scenes of remarkable poignancy: the rabbi's firstbaseball game, where he sees Jackie Robinson play for the Dodgers;Michael's introduction into the mystical world of the Cabbala and thebook's miraculous ending. Hamill is not a lyricalwriter, but he is a heartfelt one, and this story of courage in the faceof great odds is one of his best. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (164)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Story - Lame Ending
Snow In August is my second book by Pete Hamill.Both are extremely well written in that the reader is totally immersed in the time and place where Hamill takes the reader.For me, this is a major challenge for the writer of fiction, and it is Hamill's greatest strength.In Snow in August, we are taken to a post-World War II Brooklyn, where racial and ethnic tensions are rampant.

Unfortunately, the ending is both predictable and rather lame.It seems resplendent with special effects that just do not come off as very believable.

I do recommend the book, but do so with the caveat that the ending is really lame.

4-0 out of 5 stars snow in august -an unexpected treasure
I found this book in a truck stop in the middle of the night while on the road.Stopped to eat and wanted something to read to pass the time.What I found took me somewhere I hadn't expected.Set in New York the story is of a boy whose father was killed in WWII.He has to deal with street gang thugs and basic poverty.One day on the way to mass, he meets a rabbi who has emmigrated to America, basically a refugee. Eventually they develope a frienship and both learn from each other.It deals with religious intolerance, frienship, lost love, growing up alone, learning how to become a man without a father to show the way, and baseball.And much more.Took an unexpected turn or two. 10 years later, I still think about it.On the strength of this book, I have sought out other books by the same author.Easy to read, but don't be fooled, there's more going on here than some kid's book. Not just a slice of life story.There's more here than meets the eye.In some ways, it reminded me of Steven King's "HEARTS IN ATLANTIS'Very good for a rainy afternoon, or a lonely meal at a truckstop in the middle of the night.

2-0 out of 5 stars What a let down.
God, did I hate the ending of this book. At least with "Forever", which I loved, you are asked to suspend reality right from the get, so you know where you stand. This book"Snow in August" starts out with a great story about a friendship between an eleven year old Irish kid and a Rabbi in 1947 Brooklyn, a time and place I know well, having grown up there in those years. But the ending ruined it for me. I won't give it away, but it really, really sucked. Big time. Come on Pete, you coulda been a contender but you opted out for the cheap shot.

5-0 out of 5 stars A magical story
1947, Michael Devlin is eleven years old, an American-Irish boy who lives with his war-widowed mother in Brooklyn, he takes is role as alter bot seriously, but the day he braves a snow storm to fulfil his duties is the day everything changes. While on his way out of the storm a voice pleads for his help, Rabbis Judah Hirsch needs his help. That is just the beginning of what becomes a remarkable friendship and a united bond against a gang of young thugs who are in the unfortunate habit of beating up people.

The friendship between Michael and the Rabbis is beautifully related, as they seal an agreement for Michael to teach the Czechoslovakian Rabbis English and the mysteries of baseball while in return he receives instruction in Yiddish. Michael learns a lot more besides, including much of the history of the Jews in Prague, and becomes an avid student lapping up all he is taught, something which he extends to his school work.

Michael is a delightful boy, a good kid with an insatiable appetite for learning, true to his ideals. Snow in August is a charming story, at times funny, full of hope and the power of faith and of good over evil; it is also a story of what some might call magic, yet believers a miracle.

4-0 out of 5 stars A testimony to the strength of friendship
Snow in August is about 11-year-old Michael Devlin, an Irish Catholic who becomes friends with an Orthodox Jew, Rabbi Hirsch, a recent immigrant to America.Set in a borough of Brooklyn in 1947, following WWII in which Michael's father gave his life at the Battle of the Bulge and Rabbi Hirsch's beloved wife lost hers in her fight against the fanatical Hitler by trying to organize the Jews to leave for Palestine.Michaelteaches Rabbi Hirsch English and American ways and the rabbi teaches the boy Yiddish and tells him stories of Jewish life back in Prague, as well as the mysteries of the Kabbalah.1947 is the year Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, anti-Semitism and the distrust of others not of one's culture or nationality was alive and well in America.A gang of young Irish teens set out to rule the neighborhood by intimidation, feeding on violence and hatred until, through Michael, a powerful force is brought to bear against them.The story of the friendship between the boy and the rabbi is a touching one and I especially enjoyed the interaction between the two.The ending was not as I had imagined and didn't give me the satisfaction the ending I envisioned would have, but, of course, it wasn't my story.Eunice Boeve, author of Ride a Shadowed Trail ... Read more

6. News Is a Verb (Library of Contemporary Thought)
by Pete Hamill
Paperback: 112 Pages (1998-04-20)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$2.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345425286
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
"When screaming headlines turn out to be based on stories that don't support them, the tale of the boy who cried wolf gets new life. When the newspaper is filled with stupid features about celebrities at the expense of hard news, the reader feels patronized. In the process, the critical relationship of reader to newspaper is slowly undermined."

Journalism at the End of the Twentieth Century

"With the usual honorable exceptions, newspapers are getting dumber. They are increasingly filled with sensation, rumor, press-agent flackery, and bloated trivialities at the expense of significant facts. The Lewinsky affair was just a magnified version of what has been going on for some time. Newspapers emphasize drama and conflict at the expense of analysis. They cover celebrities as if reporters were a bunch of waifs with their noses pressed enviously to the windows of the rich and famous. They are parochial, square, enslaved to the conventional pieties. The worst are becoming brainless printed junk food. All across the country, in large cities and small, even the better newspapers are predictable and boring. I once heard a movie director say of a certain screenwriter: 'He aspired to mediocrity, and he succeeded.' Many newspapers are succeeding in the same way."                        Amazon.com Review
Pete Hamill's fed up with the decline in quality of America's newspapers,and he's got a solution. News Is a Verb calls upon editors to focus on accuracy, leavingthe "instant" reportage to TV shows. He also stresses the need for local papers to pay attention to the issues that affect their communities, as well as the importance of reaching out to women readers and the new wave of immigrants looking for ways to assimilate American culture.

As a lifelong newspaperman, Hamill is dedicated to the idea that ifsomething didn't happen, it isn't news. Artificial celebrities such asDonald Trump should not be given valuable column inches simply because theyexist; likewise, important figures such as Bill Clinton should not be reducedto gossip fodder. Unsubstantiated rumors, he makes plain, are notnewsworthy. Anybody who cares about the state of contemporary journalismwill find much to appreciate in Pete Hamill's straightforwardappraisal. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good sense
The problems Hamill identifies in newspapers coexist in magazine journalism, where I worked for most of a 25-year career.

For starters, the corporation has overtaken the newsroom. Along with downsizing, cost cutting and concerns for shareholder value, come certain malaise. Hamill disparages today's "tabloid" journalists, but his complaint covers the entire news corps just as well. I learned recently that one major news magazine now determines whether or not to report a story based on its research costs per page of the expected count. Since the best stories always cost most to produce, this system ensures that the best stories will not be written.

Good old tabloid reporters, he avows, would be appalled at the slovenly way the word "tabloid" is thrown around and at most current practices--what I call "state-of-the-art." Old-timers didn't pay streetwalkers for stories, he notes, or "sniff around the private lives of politicians like agents from the vice squad." On breaking news, they did not "behave like a writhing, snarling, mindless centipede, all legs and Leicas," but rather "found ways to get the story without behaving like thugs or louts."

Old-timers also believed what too many newspaper reporters and publishers have forgotten--that they should act as ombudsmen for the public (my term). They have instead traded that role for consumerism, denying fundamental responsibilities to instead give readers entertainment, "what publishers, in their omniscience, think those readers want."

Without healthy newspapers, Hamill understands, no democracy can function and evolve. He reminds us that 65 reporters died in Indochina to bring us the truth, that reporters have continued to die in wars ever since--in Lebanon, Nicaragua, Bosnia and Peru--"and a lot of other places where hard rain falls." The total is now higher--of course, including 8 reporters in Afghanistan, and Daniel Pearl, murdered in Pakistan because he was Jewish.

But Internet and television relentlessly pull readers away. From 1970 through 1990, U.S. newspaper circulation remained roughly static at 60 million.

One result is a decline in quality of which the reporters, editors and publishers are all too aware. Another is that newspapers start to lose money and die. A third is the promotion of self, celebrity journalism. Newspapers today peddle "the same obsession with big names" as everyone else. I couldn't agree more. Witness the celebrity television and movie stars hired as news anchors by CNN.

Finally comes the loss of reportorial humility. Hamill writes that few reporters are today like David Remnick of the New Yorker, remaining properly humble. Those rare souls "are uninterested in working as hangmen," because their sense of proportion prohibits it. They know they cannot reach as deeply into the secret places of the heart as great fiction. "People lie to themselves as well as others," Hamill writes. "The journalist is always a prisoner of what he or she is told. The truth is always elusive." Without humility, reporters actually believe they can hit the ever-illusive bull's eye.

But the largest casualty is the deflation of journalism's key currency--truth itself. It is defeated by conditions best described in George Orwell's fiction, conditions that have become reality. To reporters today, murderers are not killers, but activists, and terrorism is a cause celebre.

Hamill correctly savages newspapers and their current culture. "Trust is the heart of the matter," he writes.

Too bad more editors and reporters don't trust the mass of readers with the good sense to tell them that they have the most critical story wrong. They trip themselves up on old-fashioned hubris. Alyssa A. Lappen

4-0 out of 5 stars All news is local
Pete Hamill is one of the last and finest of old-time journalists, a master of his craft who genuinely believed in the old adage that anewspaper's prime job was to "comfort the afflicted, afflict thecomfortable."

Today, the opposite is true.With the exception of afew papers, and no television stations, news is based on the idea "comfortthe comfortable advertisers, afflict the welfare victims of society."It'scalled "press release journalism" and reflects the basic reason for thedecline of many modern papers, the timidity and fear of editors who limitnews coverage to people and events about which press releases are offered. Years ago, I worked beside a reporter who had a big "No guts, no glory"sign above his desk;it took awhile to realize the emphasis of the paperhe worked for was "no guts" because any original work might upset powerfulfriends of the publisher.Readers know "a flawed watchdog is better thanno dog at all;"but editors have muzzled the watchdog for fear someonewill object to its bark.

I've been an editor at various times from1968 through 1996;on every occasion the paper gained circulation.Hamilltalks about quality, which he doesn't define except to say "it is goodstuff."My approach was to emphasize local news and provide commentarywith a sharp edge--scorched earth journalism, one fan called it -- recognizing that we couldn't obtain the kind of quality Hamill stresses.

The secret of good commentary isn't excellence;it's readers who know theyhave the complete freedom to respond.In many cases, I gave them aprominence equal to my commentary.No one ever agreed with me all of thetime, but everyone knew they had a right to reply and their response wouldnot be trivialized.It's the most important element in establishing trust,the willingness to respect readers. Hamill is wonderful atanalyzing the past;this is a man who loves newspapers, and is a superbobserver of the human condition.His book "Why Sinatra Matters" is aslender classic that offers more insight and understanding of Sinatra andAmerica than any of the mighty and lengthy biographies.He brings the sameexpertise and passion in his analysis of newspaper failures.This bookoffers dozens of examples of why papers are dull, dull, dull.

Anyonewho's disappointed in the quality of newspapers can sympathize with thefaults Hamill outlines.For example, a recent local report of a major firewith damage in the millions of dollars failed to mention the name of thecompany or their product--but, it had extensive interviews ofbystanders who came to watch the fire.It's what passes for news; bystanders who think the flames were very impressive.In the modernnewsroom, it's called ". . . the human touch."

Give me a break. Tell me about the fire, and I'll add my own human touch.I don't need anewspaper telling me that bystanders are impressed by big flames.Give melocal news and the right to talk back.That's precisely what Amazon.comdoes with reader reviews of books--it gives ordinary people anuncensored forum.It's why Amazon.com is a success;and the oppositeattitude is why newspapers are either static or declining.

Hamillpoints out, "Newspapers emphasize drama and conflict at the expense ofanalysis."He's two thirds correct;people want facts, not conflict anddrama.But, they want facts, not analysis which used to be rare andclearly identified.Readers are smart enough to make up their own minds,provided they get accurate information.What are facts?Briefly, the oldreliable "Who, What, Where, When and How."

This is a superb book foranalyzing the faults of modern newspapers;but, it falls short on offeringsolutions.Hamill thinks the fault is centered on absentee owners whodon't understand the newsroom;my experience says it is based on "pressrelease" journalism which changed the "watchdog of the community" into atame "little bark and no bite" puppy.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great essay
I picked up the book partly because I admire Hamill's writing and partly because I had just been griping about our local newspaper.The book was great.It articulated many of my own criticisms about the press -- theadoration of celebrity, the lack of accuracy, the re-hashing of somebody'spress release.

Hamill is a great writer.He conveys his thoughts in astimulating yet simple, straightforward manner.He has the talent to"tell it to the Sweeneys" without sacrificing depth.

Hereverently tells about the great history of newspapers.Sometimes, thisdips to a form of romanticism which detracts from his message.He is bestwhen he sets forth goals for the industry and avoids the rosy-dreamcontext.

I was a bit disappointed that Hamill omitted commenting uponthe decline in grammar and spelling in the newspapers.[I found atypographical error in the text.]

The book is a must for newspaper folksand all of us shake our heads over the morning edition.

5-0 out of 5 stars The way it ought to be
This book describes the way newspaper journalism ought to be, as seen from the eyes of an excellent newspaper journalist. It's also a glimpse of theway things were just a few decades ago, when newspaper journalism was stilla vital part of life in the town and cities of the United States. Hamill isan eloquent and emotional voice for better newspaper journalism. He isalso, sadly, a voice from the past, for the past.

The core content ofthe book is a set of well-thought out solutions, recommendations intendedto pull the papers back out of the swamp. Hamill is remarkably optimistic,in fact, about what might solve the problems he so convincingly describes.

My main question, after reading the book and watching the generaldecline it describes, is whether Hamill's solutions are realistic. Heblames publishers for the dumbing of the American newspaper, not thereaders, and that worries me. If newspapers achieved the Hamill ideal,would they win readers?

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential reading
This book reminds me why I want to be a journalist. I have read and re-read News Is a Verb and each time it never fails to excite and inspire me. Mr. Hamill's notions of the purpose of a newspaper and ideas about howto effectively cover a city are inspirational. In addition, News Is a Verbhas greatly improved my impression of tabloid papers -- a genre which Ipreviously scorned, and was sometimes wrong to do so. My only criticism ofMr. Hamill is that he does occasionally appear bitter over the severalmisfortunes of his career, despite his disclaimer to the contrary. Inparticular, his personal attack on Donald Trump, though perhapsunderstandable, is a little over-exuberant. He loses a little credibilityhere, I think. His distrust of newspaper publishers is probablywell-founded. That one caveat aside, this is a fabulous book and deservesattention from anyone interested in the field of journalism. ... Read more

7. The Guns of Heaven (Hard Case Crime)
by Pete Hamill
Mass Market Paperback: 254 Pages (2006-08-29)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$4.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0843955953
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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2-0 out of 5 stars Good history lesson that bogs down before racing forward
When one thinks of pulp fiction and noir, a few things automatically come to mind: femme fatales, guys in trench coats, guns, night, booze. Moreover, the time period that usually comes to mind is usually any year from the time of FDR's inauguration to that of John Kennedy. That is to say, the 1930s through the 1950s. The 70s figure in the picture, too.

But the 1980s? Nah. At least, not to me. I have written that I'm fairly new to the genre of crime fiction. There may be a slew of great 80s books out there, just waiting for me. But, as of today, I don't know them. The 80s just don't seem like a noir decade to me. And that put Pete Hamill's The Guns of Heaven at a disadvantage. It takes place in 1983 and deals with the conflicts in northern Ireland.

I'm old enough to remember seeing the news coverage of the various bombings but young enough, then, not to know what it was all about. And that's where Hamill's book shined. It reminded the reader--this one 25 years later--what all the fighting was about. Unlike a Michael Crichton novel--where Crichton unloads mind-numbing facts the reader needs to know in order to understand the actions of his characters, so much data that you feel like you have to take some notes--Hamill pares the Irish troubles down to its bare facts. His asides were good and necessary.

The story is, however, um, boring. Let me try again: the first half of the book is boring. Sam Briscoe is a 40-something newspaper reporter who agrees to carry a sealed envelope from Ireland back to New York. Sam is a veteran reporter and he doesn't know that this might be a bad thing? He stops over in Switzerland to see his daughter in her boarding school. The end result is, of course, the bad guys know about her and end up kidnapping her. Hmmm, didn't see that one coming.

The second half of the book is much better as the action takes off. But unlike other books I have read recently, I never was scared for Sam. Now, that might have been in part because I listened to the book while driving but that's not all. There are plenty of books that got my heart racing so fast that I actually slowed down my driving in order to concentrate on both things better. The Guns of Heaven was not one of those books.

As a historical piece, it was fantastic. It's quaint for me, a child of the 80s, to read a book written in an earlier time; I get to experience what they experienced. Hamill's book took place in a year that I actually remember. I enjoyed reading about the state-of-the-art sound system that included tape decks and turntables. I enjoyed characters having to fish a dime out of their pockets to make calls on public phones.

The Guns of Heaven is my least favorite Hard Case Crime book to date. Perhaps it just had the unfortunate slot of being the first book I read after Money Shot. Shoot, Lucky at Cards was more entertaining. The reader, Christian Conn, was very good. His woman's voices were okay but his male voices were superb. He did a great Irish and southern accent.

4-0 out of 5 stars Still timely, despite 1983 copyright
I have never been one to follow the ongoing political and religious difficulties among the different factions of Ireland. Everything I know about the IRA, I learned from the books of Daniel Silva and Frederick Forsyth, and the films of Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan. But, whether you know more than I do, or have only read those books yourself, Pete Hamill's The Guns of Heaven can now be added to that list of helpful reference works, primarily because it feels as if it were written yesterday, despite its 1983 copyright date.

Sam Briscoe is a writer for a New York newspaper. Half-Irish and half-Jewish, Briscoe used to write a much-read column on Ireland (for which he is still recognized on the street, many years later), and still produces the occasional piece on the subject. On the way to visit his daughter Alice at her boarding school in Switzerland, he promises his editor he will drop by Northern Ireland (to visit his uncle) and come up with another article, thus getting the paper to pay for the trip.

This simple, highly irreverent beginning sets the scene for all that comes later in The Guns of Heaven, as Briscoe's life is turned upside down almost from the moment he steps off the plane in Belfast. There he meets Commander Steel, a mysterious leader of the Irish Republican Army, who asks Briscoe to deliver a letter for him once he gets back to New York.

From that point on, Briscoe gets signs that he is being followed, even once he arrives in Switzerland. After a dangerous car chase, he retrieves his daughter and takes her to her mother's house in Spain, whereupon he returns to New York to deliver the letter. Things from that point take a definite downturn as more people die and murderous intent comes from unexpected sources.

Pete Hamill is probably best known to fiction readers as the author of the bestselling New-York-after-9/11 realistic fantasy Forever. Even crime fiction aficionados are unlikely to be aware of the three Sam Briscoe novels he wrote early in his career, of which The Guns of Heaven is one (Dirty Laundry and The Deadly Piece are the others). His fiction is often steeped in New York atmosphere (not surprising given that Hamill has edited both the Post and the Daily News) and this one is no different.

I have to be honest and say that the whole Northern Ireland plot did not really interest me (probably because of my lack of Irish heritage), but I kept reading because of Hamill's skill at narration and description. He writes like a dream. Fans of Madison Smartt Bell's Straight Cut (another Hard Case Crime novel) will enjoy the "literary" feel of The Guns of Heaven. My favorite part of the book was an unexpected aside about Swiss pizza that die-hard New Yorker Briscoe narrates while eating lunch with his daughter:

"Pizza is the most mysterious of all foods. You find it on sale all over the world now, but for me it never works anywhere except in New York. I don't care who makes it, as long as it's made in New York: some of the best pizza I ever had was made by a Puerto Rican in an Irish dance hall in Coney Island. Not even Italy gets it right, although the cooks at least try. But the Swiss didn't have a clue about making pizza. The crust was too thin, and there was not enough cheese. The cheese wasn't mozzarella, so the long strandy texture was wrong, and the tomato sauce was watery, and the chef had covered the surface with chopped ham, olives, and mushrooms, as if an instinct for the baroque could disguise the flaws in the basic form. The thing didn't taste bad. It just wasn't pizza."

Another pleasant surprise was that there were a couple of books mentioned within the text of The Guns of Heaven that may make me curious enough to pick them up. I always pay attention to whatever books a character is reading, as it tends to give extra insight into them, even when they are reading particularly uncharacteristic choices. Briscoe is discovered reading Stendhal's treatise On Love by a few other characters, all of whom react differently to this information. It was such an odd choice (even given what we learn about Briscoe in later chapters) that I came to instantly respect the character for making it. Also, in another instance, Briscoe calls Michael Farrell's The Orange State "one of the best books on Northern Ireland," and Hamill ties Farrell in with one of the other characters, making the novel feel just that much more realistic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Great HCC!
This series will never disappoint!A gritty, hard edged pulp mystery with the right balance of sex, deception, controversy, and beatings.Buy this book!!!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars great subwaybook
A fun look at New York City during the 1980's. This is the first Pete Hamill book that I have read and am now a fan. He writes with a quick pace, excellent descriptions that you feel like you are right there. It was an excellent mystery and the story is still very current to 2006. ... Read more

8. Dirty Laundry
by Pete Hamill
 Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1985)
-- used & new: US$19.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553198327
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In this bullet-swift thriller, the first of a new series, former crack columnist for a New York City paper, Sam Brisco gets a terrified phone call from an old flame. Before he can get to her, she is murdered and Sam is plunged into a strange case involving a couple of corpses, a guy who stole a bank and a surprising pay-off.... (from the back cover) ... Read more

9. Downtown: My Manhattan
by Pete Hamill
Paperback: 320 Pages (2005-11-08)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000JGG9I2
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In this widely praised book, Pete Hamill leads us on an unforgettable journey through the city he loves, from the island's southern tip to Times Square, combining a moving memoir of his own days and nights in New York with a passionate history of its most enduring places and people. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars Downtown:My Manhattan
What a wonderful book! It reminds me of just how much I love New York only wish I was there while reading it so I could visit the places in reality.

5-0 out of 5 stars Downtown - My Manhattan
Great read!I actually borrowed the audio version of this from the library and listened to it in my car....It was so great that I needed to buy the print version so I could highlight the important parts and go back, find, and tour those places. If you love history or love Manhattan, you'll this book!

1-0 out of 5 stars What Can I Say?
I'm enjoying some of the tidbits gleaned from this.Where Brooklyn, The Bronx, Harlem, and Wall Street got their names.However, it would be easier to gather such information online instead of sifting through all this.

That being said...

In reading, it's piquing my interest to know about points of interest not explained such as the name "Manhattan."It's derived from "Manna-hatta" = "many hills."Online searches help with further learning.Some of it, you're not going to get here.Such as the name of the department store that Stewart opened.Come on, what is the name of his store?The author doesn't say so off I go to do an online search.Where did some of these other places get their names?Look it up yourself because he's not going to tell you.

The building setback zoning law to allow some sun to reach the people on the streets is an interesting morsel of knowledge I've picked up in this rendering of Manhattan.

The author picks out certain parts of Manhattan and tells not only of its history but about the people whose lives played important roles in the making and constant change in this district.However, to a point that distracts and takes away from its quality.There is information told that certainly did not need to be history such as one young man's relieving himself in his fiance's family's fireplace.I'm sure he'd be chagrined to know that that made history.Who cares also, that a prince went to a brothel?Sure, brothels were part of NY's history but we certainly don't need to know who took advantage of them.

I find myself wanting the author to move on, get to the point or something.I'm feeling an overall dissatisfaction with the book.

Would I recommend it.Eh, that would be tough.

3-0 out of 5 stars A history lesson and memoir that don't quite mesh.

Hamill's love for Downtown Manhattan is obvious.He speaks lovingly of "a city of daily irritations, occasional horrors, hourly tests of will and even courage, and huge dollops of pure beauty. He fills the book with tales of Peter Stuyvesant and John Jacob Astor, CBGB's and Delmonico's, but in the midst of this history, personal reminiscences are tossed in carelessly and this technique creates a schism in the narrative. It breaks the natural flow of his writing, which when on target create wonderful pictures of the Downtown that was. It's almost as if Hamill couldn't decide whether he was writing; history or memoir. I'm sure with careful consideration of approach this could have worked, but here style seems to be an afterthought, surprising for a newspaperman. Worth reading for his portraits of Old New York, but skip over the words when Hamill injects himself into the mix.

5-0 out of 5 stars Visit Manhattan with Friend Pete Hamill
My attraction to this book was unexpected.As I got into it I became helpless to stop reading.

To reveal too much would be a kind of sin.You must read for yourself.You'll learn, you will chuckle, cry and, I promise, the historical facts will amaze you at times. The history of New York is the history of our country, and our known history goes back only so many years.Just looking at some of the buildings, the architecture, the streets, will bring old stories to life. As a native New Yorker, Pete Hamill has lived his life as journalist and reporter, soaking up the flavor and moods of the city.He has been editor in chief of the New York Post and the New York Daily News, as well as author of numerous books and many articles and stories for other distinguished publications.

New York IS history - and I think New York is Pete Hamill - and the natives live with it as they breathe.Pete Hamill will surprise and delight you, sharing his life and style while gently informing.

Coming to the end of this book is like having to say a reluctant goodby. ... Read more

10. The Art of Column Writing: Insider Secrets from Art Buchwald, Dave Barry, Arianna Huffington, Pete Hamill and Other Great Columnists
by Suzette Martinez Standring
Paperback: 192 Pages (2007-11-01)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$11.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1933338261
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Featuring some of the most famous columnists in the business, this guide reveals the secrets to becoming a syndicated newspaper columnist, through both the author's own experiences and anecdotes from the respected writers who excel in their craft. From finding topics, to digging up information, and ultimately writing a column that makes people think, laugh, or cry, all the wisdom necessary to write opinion, humor, and insight columns is clearly presented in this in-depth manual.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Bravo, Suzette!
With The Art of Column Writing, Suzette Martinez Standring has kicked a last second field goal to win the Super Bowl or, if you prefer baseball, hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 7 to win the World Series.

Drawing from the experiences of literary behemoths like Pete Hamill, Dave Barry, and the late, great Art Buchwald, Suzette weaves their expert analysis into a delightful outline for current and fledgling column writers to follow.The information she includes is monumental in scope; there is nothing left out.In fact, you could safely (and properly) conclude that The Art of Column Writing is as important a guide to writers as a wiring schematic is to a Marine Corps jet mechanic.

Suzette's approach is funny, insightful, thought provoking, and dead on accurate.And when you couple her own dazzling, syndicated commentary with lessons gleaned from the literary mountaintop, you are rewarded with what is clearly one of the very best How To books ever written.

The most remarkable, indeed, encouraging, side of this story is that while Suzette's The Art of Column Writing is an unqualified marvel, it is also being used as a text book by teachers in writing classes across America.Hey, talk about 20/20 foresight.

5-0 out of 5 stars Packed With Sound Advice and Insight for Any Writer
Newspaper columnists have an admitted challenge to draw their readers into their work and compel them to read their writing. If you write a column for a newspaper or a magazine on a regular basis, get this book. It's excellent and packed with wisdom from many different well-known writers.

These columnists have drawn a consistent readership and any writer can profit from the study of this book. Why? Whether you have a growing readership in your blog or a column for a magazine or a regular spot in a local newspaper, you have to draw on the tips and techniques in this title. I liked what author Suzette Martinez Standring wrote in the Introduction: the Quest for a Column saying, "It is better to ask, 'How can I make my work worth of being published?' Let's take a moment to deconstruct a newspaper column. It compels or captivates with a tale, a message, or a persuasive argument. Jam-pack those thoughts into, say, 600 select words. Create an engaging start, an informative middle, and ideally, a surprise ending, all written in a voice so signature any reader could identify the columnist even without a byline. 'What we do is more like a short story,' said legendary metro columnist Pete Hamill during a 2005 NSNC meeting in Texas. Time, talent, and practice are required to do condensed writing well." (page 11)

EVERY WRITER can profit from reading this book because the universal nature of the skill of column writing.

5-0 out of 5 stars First Place Award for Educational Book, 2008
First Place in the Educational Book category was awarded to The Art of Column Writing in the 2008 Royal Palm Literary Awards, sponsored by the Florida Writers Association.(See award listing on www.floridawriters.net)

5-0 out of 5 stars Professional writers never stop learning
And this should be required reading. An aspiring writer/columnist will find the material useful, inspiring in very practical terms. For the same reasons a seasoned writer/columnist will regain the motivation that led her/him to start writing in the first place. Thank you Suzette!

5-0 out of 5 stars Overly pleased and entertained
I could not have learned as much as I did from this terrific book in a college journalism class.While sophisticated, entertaining and anecdotal, it's also amazingly funny.

Its scope is impressive, not to mention being well-indexed.It's a complete compendium, I believe, for the existing or aspiring columnist. ... Read more

11. The Irish Face in America
by Julia McNamara, Jim Smith
Paperback: 216 Pages (2006-02-15)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$1.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0821257463
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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THE IRISH FACE IN AMERICA profiles a vibrant cross section of Irish Americans and their contributions to every aspect of society. Several well-known figures are included: film stars Martin Sheen, Ed Burns and Bridget Moynahan; Riverdance founder Michael Flatley; television personality and producer Merv Griffin; and pro golfer Mark O'Meara among them. The stories span all ages and walks of life, and capture the richness and heritage of the Irish-American experience in cities as diverse as Boston, Massachusetts; New Orleans, Louisiana; South Bend, Indiana; and O'ahu, Hawaii. Also featured are writers, firefighters, college students, performers, politicians, astronauts, and athletes. Providing a framework for these portraits of Irish-American life are longer essays by mystery writers Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark, T. J. Golway (co-author of The Irish in America), Patricia Harty (editor of IRISH AMERICA magazine), and former Coca-Cola president Don Keough. These insightful essays explore the question of what it is to be an Irish American - a subculture with enormous pride in its heritage, deeply rooted in tradition and culture yet utterly modern and ever changing. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars GREAT book!!
This book is really amazing. I'm a 'star' in the book on page 44. I'm very proud to be part of something so unique. The book is enjoyable to anyone who reads it, and I highly suggest getting it as a present for others, or yourself!

5-0 out of 5 stars May the wind always be at your back.
I just bought Julia McNamara's book for the O'Hagen coffee table.I spent the first few times with the book just looking at the pictures until I had a chunk of time to really sit down with the text. It is rare for a book of this nature to cover in such depth the Irish American experience.The stories are moving, uplifting and enlightening.Look at it.......but also READ it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Heart of the Matter
A wonderful book.I initially bought a couple copies as Cristmas gifts for family members (the cover girl compelled me.)As I began to read the essays, I was so taken with the stories of these remarkable individuals that I found myself purchasing additional copies - for myself, friends and my local library.The essays bring the lives of average Americans, captains of industry and celebrities into a cohesive focus that is difficult to put down.I love it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling stories straight from the heart
I bought this book as a Christmas gift for all my Irish friends. The stories are so compelling - they celebrate the specialness of being Irish in America with more nuance than most authors and with a grace that captures each person's perspective and joy. Color me...impressed!

5-0 out of 5 stars Irish Echo
Saw the ad for this book in the Irish Echo with the great picture of the piper. Knew it would be worth a look. Read Pete Hamill's introduction. Then read Patricia Harty's facinating pages of Irish history I never knew. Flipped pages to view the great faces that come right to you and bought it. Worth every penny and family loved it. ... Read more

12. Why Sinatra Matters
by Pete Hamill
Paperback: 192 Pages (2003-06)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$3.91
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316738867
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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As products of the same urban landscape, Pete Hamill and Frank Sinatra have both been credited with giving the American city a voice. In this widely acclaimed and bestselling appreciation-now available in paperback for the first time-Hamill draws on his intimate experience of the man and the music to evoke the essence of Sinatra, illuminating the singer's art and his legend from the point of view of a confidant and a fan. - May 2003 marks the fifth anniversary of Sinatra's death. - The hardcover edition of Why Sinatra Matters (Little, Brown and Company, 1998), published five months after Sinatra's death, became a national bestseller. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (33)

3-0 out of 5 stars Why Does Sinatra Matter?
I'm obviously in the minority here.I purchased this book upon the recommendation of an acquaintance.I enjoyed this book.I, in turn, would recommend this book.However, I still can't grasp why, in the vast scheme of things, Sinatra matters that much or the iconic image bestowed upon him by his fans or the media. I'm sure he was a philanthropist and did much good behind the scenes, but he could also be a crude bully if he didn't get his way.True, he was a great singer, but so are many others. I own many of his LPs and CDs and listen to them from time to time.I've read other biographies of Sinatra and the Rat Pack and this one is definitely up there, due mainly to the gifted writing abilities of Pete Hamill, who can make any subject interesting.Example: in touching upon Sinatra's acting abilities, Mr. Hamill writes:"He (Sinatra) made some good movies after the comeback...he also made some appalling, self-indulgent junk.But he simply didn't take acting seriously enough to become a great actor.Too often he settled for the first, most superficial take, avoiding the effort that would force him to stretch his talent, acting as if he were double parked." "Acting as if he were double parked."See what I mean?

3-0 out of 5 stars Eh
Written in a very tangential fashion.Not the best book on Sinatra out there.

5-0 out of 5 stars Why this book is so good
This is a terrific little book. Probably one reason for it is that Hamill had prepared to write another book a full biography. He in preparation had time talking to Sinatra and learn about his life first- hand. A sense of this is given in the opening pages of the book in which Hamil in effect describes what it was like to sit with Sinatra and friends in a saloon in the wee small hours of the morning , drinking and talking. The book gives a real feeling then of what it must have been like to have been in Sinatra's company. But the virtues of the book go beyond this. I grew up in a world in which Italian- Americans played a prominent part. This book explains their story to me in a way I had never heard it before. The insults and abuses they suffered in the new country were a major part of life in the New World. This goes to explain one of Sinatra's well- known virtues, his defense of others against bigotry and prejudice. This is not a part of this book but it is central to the life- story of Sammy Davis Jr. who Sinatra befriended and helped in many ways. The book also tells the story of Sinatra's parents the withdrawn ex- prize- fighter father and the extrovert politically active saloon- owning extrovert mother Dolly. It explains Sinatra's family loyalty and other personal qualities. But its heart is its focus on Sinatra as singer, of a man who at his work was a master , a true professional, a creator in the best sense of the term. Sinatra dreamed from an early age to be a singer. He modeled himself on the enormously popular Bing Crosby. But Sinatra always had something very distinctive about him. So much of his music is about loneliness, about romance and its various moods. Sinatra was in a sense discovered and truly helped by the generous Harry James. But he left for the more professional big-time of Tommy Dorsey. Hamil tells the story of Sinatra's enormous popularity during the Second World War when a whole generation of young women, the bobby- soxers screamed out for him. He describes the post- War fall and then the great comeback afterwards both through the movies with his role as Maggio in 'From Here to Eternity' and in the singing, in part through the arrangements of Nelson Riddle. Hamill ends the book abruptly without going into the successful years, the marriages to Mia Farrow and Barbara Marx.
His real focus is on the Music and the special connection it has with the overall American story. He sees Sinatra has having represented the first really big- city voice in American music. He too details his role as one of those Italians along with Fiorello LaGuardia and Joltin Joe who made Italians fully integrated and accepted in the broader American culture. The magic of the music however is the heart of the story. Hamill is clearly a great fan and some of the best passages of the book explain Sinatra's technical innovations in singing.
This book was a real pleasure, a breeze to read. It is a tribute not only to its subject but to its author.

3-0 out of 5 stars Sinatra Matters
A paean to the greatest male vocalist of the 20th Century, a bit too sycophantic and saccarine during the first part, but hang on, the latter half becomes good interesting history without fluff.A bit too thick on assigning his almost lifelong narcissistic psychopathy to childhood influences and immigrant roots and not enough detailing of what happened during the Ava years.In the end I was grateful that someone had written this kind of eulogy for those of us who still swoon at his sound, and who have aged beyond our jealousy that the girls didn't scream for us like they did for him.

5-0 out of 5 stars Applauds for Sinatra and Hamill
Another masterpiece by Hamill.This work reveals the humanity of Sinatra.It is short, but oh soooooo good!If you are interested in Sinatra, read this book.It is sophisicated and loaded with the nuances of the man who did it his way, faults, bruises, and all. ... Read more

13. A Drinking Life Unabridged Audio CD's
by Pete Hamill
Audio CD: Pages (2003)

Isbn: 1402575912
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11 CD's ... Read more

by Pete Hamill
Hardcover: Pages (1977-01-01)

Asin: B000ILLELK
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15. At Sea in the City: New York from the Water's Edge
by William Kornblum
Hardcover: 288 Pages (2002-05-03)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$12.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1565122658
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
"Mr. Kornblum has helped me see a piece of New York with fresh eyes. . . . On page after page, I've learned something new. "
--Pete Hamill (from the Foreword)

As we sailed out into the ocean under an endless sky, Manhattan's towers were barely visible beyond a broad expanse of waves. Only the highest buildings peaked above a silver of sand and a sea of green marsh.-
-From At Sea in the City

New York is a city of few boundaries, a city of well-known streets and blocks that ramble on and on, into our literature, dreams, and nightmares. We know the city by the byways that split it, streets like Broadway and Madison and Flatbush and Delancey. From those streets, peering down the blocks and up at the top floors, the city seems immense and endless.

But long before Broadway was a muddy cart track, the water was the city's most distinguishing feature and the rivers the only byways of importance.

For people like William Kornblum, the city is shaped by the water and the people who have sailed it for goods, money, pirate's loot, and freedom. For them, the city is ever an island, and Kornblum -- New York City native, longtime sailor, and urban sociologist -- has spent decades plying its waterways in his ancient catboat, Tradition.

In At Sea in the City, he takes the reader along as he sails through his hometown, retelling the history of the city's waterfront and maritime culture and the stories of the men and women who made the water their own.

Along the way, he lays bare the character of New York, the world's city, in all its resilience and audacity. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars An interesting description of the, um, New York City archipelego
I recommend this book, especially to those who know a little about New York City and about sailing.I like the writing style and the descriptions of New York as seen from the water.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable
This is a delightful view of some of the Big Apple's waterfront.William Kornblum writes well, and I am pleased to meet the family, friends, and acquaintances of his journey.Having explored much of our city, and having studied many of the coasts from opposite shorelines, I nevertheless learned much from Kornblum's views from his catboat.I also enjoyed his flash-backs, particularly his days as a youth working at the Transit Mix dock.As another reader noted, the book has a few errors that should have been caught. The A train travels neither through The Bronx nor over Williamsburg Bridge (p. 91).In Red Hook, the parish school is within the Brooklyn diocese, not archdiocese (p. 122).When I find errors on topics I know well, I begin to worry that the publishing industry has a problem with fact-checking in non-fiction.Yet, I must say that this book is a thoroughly enjoyable meeting of humans, views, and story.I recommend this book as a gift.

3-0 out of 5 stars A good read, but....
This is the account of a sailboat cruise, but rather than crossing an ocean the author travels maybe 40 miles from home, into the maelstrom that is NY harbor. It's an interesting book, sort of, but I expected more history of the harbor, more about what the place is, and less of the author's personal experience.

I expected the former thanks to a review in the NY Times, I think -- some newspaper, anyway -- that suggested it was less an ecological than an historical journey. Without this preconception, I probably would have liked the book more. If you're from NYC, it's worth a read, but there are many better sailing accounts if you want hairy-chested adventure, or to learn something about sailing in general. There are also better books about ecology of the shoreline.

But the style is pleasant and the author seems like a man who would be an enjoyable sailing companion. That's worth three stars.

3-0 out of 5 stars Charming and pleasant, but a bit slight
The author, a sociology professor at City University of New York, was raised in the Big Apple and has lived most of his life in the area. In 1979 he bought a 24-foot New England catboat, built on Cape Cod in 1910, and proceeded to fix it and sail it around the New York area.

With this book he presents a portrait -- and sketchy history -- of the city from an angle few people know it. Structuring the story as a fairly continuous though interrupted sail from his home in Long Beach, around the southern tip of Rockaway and into Jamaica Bay, then into Upper New York Bay and the East River, and ultimately to Long Island Sound, Kornblum offers both close-up looks at the water and shoreline, and their past history.

The approach is light and pleasant: Few stories -- whether of the freezing disaster of the privateer "Castel Del Rey" in New York harbor in 1704, knowledgeable black sailors impressed by the British Navy in the War of 1812 and jailed in England for refusing to serve against the US, various ferry disasters, or the vagaries of Robert Moses -- last more than a page or three. The only sections where Kornblum lingers are in Jamaica Bay (its environmental degradation and return), and the dockside concrete industry that built New York's towers and for which the author worked as a kid. Manhattan itself is quickly bypassed though given a loving nod, and there is no venturing into the Hudson side.

In the typo sweepstakes, the book does all right, although it says "mechanical break" on p. 156 when "brake" was meant, and I believe I saw an unintended sentence fragment on p. 143. Most egregious, the great A.J. Liebling is identified on p. 103 as "Libeling" (though the name is correct in the bibliography)! A pity there apparently are youthful editors (I don't suppose there is such a thing as a proofreader in publishing anymore) who do not know this great journalist's work backward and forward.

Another ominous development -- to this reader, anyway -- is that the lovely cover photograph is an unreal composite. Different photographers are credited for different portions of it. I find this vaguely disturbing.

The writing is definitely four-star quality or better. Here's my favorite passage: "Up another shadowy bend stood two snowy egrets, with their outrageous yellow boots and platinum punk haircuts. How chic, these mudbank sushi bars. The egrets were spearing for sand bugs, moving along the edge of the marsh with the herky giant steps of students at a party stepping over empty beer cans."

I give the book only three stars because it is slight. Probably an excellent gift for the average non-reader who happens to love sailing or New York City, or the casual reader who knows little about either, but I would have liked to know more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great tour of the New York archipelago
City University of New York Professor Kornblum pays homage to what he describes as the New York archipelago.The full city consists mostly of three large islands, a bunch of small islands, and a peninsular.Professor Kornblum takes readers on a tour of the various waterways that tie the city together.Readers visit City Island off the Bronx Peninsular, Ellis and Liberty islands off lower Manhattan Island, and the Rikers Island Prison as well as several much smaller and less known rocks within the waterways.The author provides historical references and a crystal ball look into the future where nature in the present is fighting to regain a foothold from the vast urbanization.AT SEA IN THE CITY is an engaging look at the Big Apple from a different lens as the highways cross waters connecting the city such as the "byway" from Fulton St. in lower Manhattan to Fulton St. Brooklyn.Not just for natives, this is a wonderfully different perspective on New York that makes for a leisurely yet educational and enjoyable reading.

Harriet Klausner ... Read more

16. Downtown (My Manhattan)
by Pete Hamill
Hardcover: 289 Pages (2004)
-- used & new: US$7.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B001R8ZRTI
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In Downtown, Hamill leads us on an unforgettable journey through the city he loves, from the island's southern tip to Times Square, combining a moving memoir of his days and nights in New York with a passionate history of its most enduring places and people. ... Read more

17. Tabloid City: A Novel
by Pete Hamill
Hardcover: 288 Pages (2011-05-05)
list price: US$26.99 -- used & new: US$17.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316020753
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In a stately West Village townhouse, a wealthy socialite and her secretary are murdered. In the 24 hours that follow, a flurry of activity circles around their shocking deaths: The head of one of the city's last tabloids stops the presses. A cop investigates the killing. A reporter chases the story. A disgraced hedge fund manager flees the country. An Iraq War vet seeks revenge. And an angry young extremist plots a major catastrophe.

The City is many things: a proving ground, a decadent playground, or a palimpsest of memories-- a historic metropolis eclipsed by modern times. As much a thriller as it is a gripping portrait of the city of today, TABLOID CITYis a new fiction classic from the writer who has captured it perfectly for decades. ... Read more

18. Loving Women: A Novel of the Fifties
by Pete Hamill
 Hardcover: Pages (1990-09-09)
list price: US$4.99
Isbn: 051705633X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Rattigan's again - - -
Never any secret about where he grew up.Have read most of his work, and "Snow In August" remains my favorite. The references to Bird, Miles and Minton's (yeah, I'd take the A-Train up to Harlem and would be the only white face for miles, strolling to see Tony Scott, Percy, Klook, Baby Washington -- and Carman MacRae tried to get me to actually like Soul Food -- never did, but she was a super lady!)---(also flunked a tryout with the Dodgers at Ebbets Field in '52, but that doesn't matter; I know his haunts, well) -- and, although his experiences were different, there were sooooo many familiar feelings.Talks my language.Good book. Not great, but good.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good story, but anachronisms abound
I liked Pete Hamill's "Loving Women" and found most of his characters real and sympathetic. Michael Devlin, the young sailor growing up after boot camp at his first duty station is a character with whom any of us who served in the military can identify. The characters at the Navy base are familiar and could have been found on any military base in any branch of the service.
The love affair with Eden Santana is absorbing. The erotic passages are well done - you can almost taste and smell the sex.
However, it is a little jarring when he gets some of the historical details wrong. Though the novel was set in 1953, he went on about the Dodgers moving to Los Angeles which didn't happen until April of 1958; wrote about James Dean and his famous red jacket from "Rebel Without a Cause" which was released in 1955.
These kinds of sloppy writing mistakes jar a reader out of his suspension of disbelief for a moment or two and make what otherwise would be a wonderful historical novel into just a pretty good one.
Still a good read - but it could have been a great read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Deserves to be reprinted
I found this book in a used book shop, and being a fan of Hamill's, I bought it.Somewhat semi-autobiographical, the book follows a Brooklyn youth into his induction into the Navy and life at its most raw.The storythrusts one suprise twist on top of another, one exciting episode isimmediately replaced by one even more thrilling.And this may be the mosterotic book I have ever read.Not quite pornographic, the scenes of lustbetween two lovers are very descriptive and will stick with the reader forsome time.I have read thousands of books, and this has to be in my topten.Look for it, the search will be highly rewarding. ... Read more

19. The Deadly Piece
by Pete Hamill
 Paperback: 192 Pages (1979-06-22)
list price: US$2.25 -- used & new: US$8.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553120735
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20. A Diary of the Century: Tales from America's Greatest Diarist
by Edward Robb Ellis
Paperback: 624 Pages (2008-06-03)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$3.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1402754485
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

In 1927, a teenager challenged himself and two friends to an unusual test:  he dared each of them to start keeping a diary, and they’d see who could keep his the longest. In 1995—long after he’d won the contest (68 years and more than 22 million words later, to be exact—Edward Robb Ellis published this richly entertaining book, drawn from his Guinness World Record-recognized diary.

Press credentials granted the eagle-eyed Ellis a front-row seat to many major events of the 20th century, and he captures them here in a vivid, pictorial style—whether covering politicians like Huey Long, movie stars and performers such as Grace Kelly and Paul Robeson, or history-making news events, including the creation of the United Nations.  He recounts his encounter with the legendarily witty Mae West—whose press agent turns out to be feeding lines to her.  He chronicles a New Orleans jazz joint in the 30s where he interviews a talented, young trumpeter: Louie Armstrong.  He writes of taking long strolls with Harry Truman, and of observing Senator Joseph McCarthy for the first time.

The sparkle in Ellis’s writing comes not solely from his encounters with the rich and famous, but from his attentiveness to, and enjoyment of, everyday life.  In Ellis’s own words, this is “not a record of world deeds, mighty achievements, conquests” but “the drama of the unfolding life of one individual, day after day after day.”

In addition to two 16-page photographic inserts, the book contains original caricatures drawn by the author.


... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fantasic.I couldn't put it down!!!
As Edward Robb Ellis was writing his diary I was being born.I've often wondered what my pre-though, pre-war life was like now I know.Through the eyes of one man who's life mirrored, yet preceded, my own 30 years later.I wonder, in 1998, is ERE still alive.I hope so!! ... Read more

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