Low Life

Luc Sante, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $27.5 (414p) ISBN 978-0-374-19414-7
In his first book, freelance writer Sante tours the underside of Manhattan's underclass circa 1840-1919. Clarifying his territory, he notes that ``New York is incarnated by Manhattan (the other boroughs . . . are merely adjuncts).'' Sante's bad old days are populated with lethal saloon keepers, thieves, whores, gamblers, pseudo-reformers, Tammany Hall politics, crooked cops et al. Capital of the night is the Bowery, center of the ``sporting life''; bohemia encompasses the likes of short story writer O. Henry, a one-time embezzler from Texas, plus ethnic enclaves (with the Jewish and Slavic bohemians singled out as the most argumentative). East Side, West Side, semi-rural uptown, wide-open downtown, 19th-century Manhattan is presented as the realm of danger and pleasure. ``The city was like this a century ago, and it remains so in the present,'' maintains an author who sees his Manhattan as seamy, seedy and sinister. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-374-52899-7
Paperback - 414 pages - 978-0-679-73876-3
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