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Paradise Alley: A Novel [Anglais] [Relié]

Kevin Baker

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Description de l'ouvrage

1 octobre 2002

At the height of the Civil War, what begins with strong words and a few broken bottles will, over the course of five days, escalate into the worst urban conflagration in American history. Hundreds of thousands of poor Irish immigrants smolder with resentment against a war and a president that have cost them so many of their young men. When word spreads throughout New York's immigrant wards that a military draft is about to be implemented -- a draft from which any rich man's son with $300 can buy an exemption -- trouble begins to spill into the streets.

Down in the waterfront slum of Paradise Alley, three women -- Deirdre Dolan O'Kane, Ruth Dove, and Maddy Boyle -- struggle with their private fears as they wait for the storm to descend on them. Deirdre, whose lace-curtain sensibilities have always kept her at arm's length from her neighbors, is devastated by the discovery that her husband, Tom, has been wounded at Gettysburg. In her desperation, Deirdre must turn for aid and comfort to Ruth, a woman she has always judged as morally depraved.

Ruth, too, has been cut off from her husband, Billy Dove, an ex-slave. At dawn he set out for the Colored Orphans' Asylum uptown, to collect his last wages. But he has not returned by day's end, or by the next morning. In the meantime, Ruth has learned that dozens of black men and women have been lynched or beaten by rioters.

She begins to fear the worst, not just for Billy, but for herself and their children, too -- because she now knows that he is coming. He is Dangerous Johnny Dolan, Deirdre's estranged brother, who after fourteen years' exile has returned to New York. Years before, it was Johnny who saved Ruth from the famine in Ireland, who arranged for her steerage passage from Dublin to New York -- and who beat her mercilessly until she arranged to have him sent away for murder.

Even as the riot builds toward its violent climax, Dolan searches relentlessly for Ruth and Deirdre, carried along by the unruly mob. In the end, these remarkable women have nothing but one another to rely on as they seek to protect their homes and families from the brutality of a city -- and a nation -- gone mad. Paradise Alley a story of race and hatred, of love and war, of risk and dauntless courage.

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

“Rich in color and drama.... Extraordinary.... A triumph.” (New York Times)

Phenomenal.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)

“An engrossing epic” (Entertainment Weekly)

“A page-turning epic.” (New York Post)

“Deftly plotted, fabulously detailed, and never less than absorbing.” (Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review)

“Extraordinary....Baker achieves a hallucinatory realism packed with sensory detail, demonstrating why historical fiction is able to trump conventional historiography.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

“Extraordinary....Baker achieves a hallucinatory realism packed with sensory detail.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)

“Paradise Alley probes the primal mysteries of and war with skill, drama and deep humanity.” (Edmonton Journal)

“Skillfully illuminates a little-known episode in this country’s history.” (Library Journal)

“[A] richly detailed, impeccably researched drama.” (Booklist)

“[A] huge success....fascinating, instructive, never pedantic.” (Houston Chronicle)

“Paradise Alley is a skillful historical reconstruction -- an exploration of love and loyalty.” (Hartford Courant)

“Inspired.... vividly entertaining, and its themes are as timely as any drawn from this morning’s newspaper. ” (Baltimore Sun)

“A rare and special work.” (Denver Post)

“[An] extraordinary talent....Kevin Baker is quickly altering the landscape of American historical fiction.” (Christian Science Monitor)

Biographie de l'auteur

Kevin Baker is the bestselling author of the novels Dreamland, Paradise Alley, and Sometimes You See It Coming. He is a columnist for American Heritage magazine and a regular contributor to the New York Times, Harper's, and other periodicals. He lives in New York City with his wife, the writer Ellen Abrams, and their cat, Stella.

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.1 étoiles sur 5  60 commentaires
47 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 How much misery can you tolerate? 5 octobre 2002
Par Mary Whipple - Publié sur
Life was cheap in New York City in 1863, the setting for this powerfully realized, naturalistic novel. For $ a man who did not want to fight in the Civil War could hire another man to take his place, an option available only to the wealthy, the poor, of necessity, obeying the draft. Living in the city's fetid back alleys, where pigs ran wild, children sailed paper boats in rivers of blood running out of butcheries, and horses and dogs rotted where they fell, the mainly Irish poor finally reached their limits and exploded in murderous rage. During three of the hottest days in July, 1863, they rioted, bludgeoning any man, woman, or child who got in their way, saving their particular wrath for blacks, whom they blamed for the war--innocent neighbors who were stripped, set on fire, and hanged from lamp posts.

The "Draft Riots," the people who participated in them, the conditions which spawned them, and the politicians, churchmen, and police who either did not or could not stop them, are fully examined in this huge novel, filled with ugliness and offering little in the way of hope.

These days of anarchy, with all their depredations, are recreated through the stories and points of view of seven characters--Ruth Dove, who survived the Irish potato famine (depicted in horrifying background detail) and her husband Billy, a former slave; Dangerous Johnny Dolan, Ruth's abusive and jealous former lover; Johnny's sister, Deirdre Dolan O'Kane, and her husband Tom, who participates in the battles of Fredericksburg and Gettysburg; and newspaper hack, Herbert Willis Robinson, who follows the rioters around the city while worrying about his lover Maddy, a woman who became a prostitute when he refused to give her entree into his world.

Baker is a master of odd, and apparently accurate, details from the period, devoting many pages to wide-ranging background material, and developing his characters just enough to make the plot seem plausible, despite its remarkable coincidences, its frequent telegraphing of the action, and an ending which leaves no loose ends. The picture of humanity here is very dark, with details sometimes appearing to be inserted for their shock value. The mob's ghoulish delight in torture and mayhem is sustained for over 600 pages, an experience which makes the reader long for a moment or two of levity. I wish, among all the encyclopedic detail, Baker had offered a few hints about the inner resources which allow one or two characters to rise above the fray and achieve grandeur. Mary Whipple
39 internautes sur 41 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 No sophomore slump here. 4 octobre 2002
Par Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader - Publié sur
Kevin Baker, whose "Dreamland" made its strong and haunting appearance several years ago, follows up with another excitingly researched and characterized novel. Set during the five hot days of the New York City draft riots of 1863, "Paradise Alley" traces the lives of three women living on that street waiting for terror and anarchy to reach their doors.
Ruth, Dierdre, and Maddy are all Irish, struggling in a hard city that is nonetheless better than what they left. Dierdre and her family are the closest to achieving a form of middle class stability, yet she is the one who brings hell to her own door. Her former sister-in-law Ruth is a ragpicker. Now married to a runaway slave, Ruth came to New York with Dierdre's psychotic brother, whom they hear has been released from prison and is on his way back to town. Maddy, once the mistress of the journalist who tells part of the story, now opens her bedroom to all comers.
Baker fills "Paradise Alley" with rich details about the lives of mid-19th century Irish immigrants-their social clubs, their pride in their firefighting teams, the gangs, the church, and the backbreaking work. This is all wonderful stuff, especially his descriptions of the fire teams with their traditions and colorful names.
This is a nice big book, packed with compelling characters, intriguing historical detail, and plenty of suspense. Baker orchestrates his novel masterfully, keeping all the themes twisting and twining until the novel reaches its climax. This is one of the best evocations of Civil War-era New York I have read, and it joins Peter Quinn's "Banished Children of Eve" as an outstanding fictionalization of five terrible days in U.S. history.
26 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Paradise Alley 15 novembre 2002
Par K. Freeman - Publié sur
This is an excellent book, which not only covers a little-known facet of 19th century history but has definite literary credentials.
In the summer of 1863, poor, mostly Irish, workers in New York resent the mounting Civil War casualties, and hate the recently instituted draft. When the government tries to impose the draft, riots erupt that affect the lives of a vivid cast of characters.
Baker writes in a literary but not pretentious style. This is Kantor-type historical fiction: following many characters and giving details of each person's past. Some readers will probably find this hard to get through; for me, it was effective, giving each character depth and ratcheting up the tension as I had to wait to find out what was happening to each person in the "now" plotline.
The portrayals of 1863 New York and Famine Ireland are definitely gritty, not to say grotesque, but one gets the feeling that vast and accurate research has been done. Baker's overall grip of battles and soldier mentality seems strong--Fredericksburg is excellent and the mob scenes are powerful--but the most interesting part is really the fire-fighting scene, with the details of the engines and the crews. He writes well about members of several ethnic minorities, presenting them as individuals and giving a vivid cultural picture without resorting to condescension or political correctness. The character of Billy Dove, escaped slave and shipwright, is especially well portrayed.
14 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Worst New York Event Pre 9/11 17 octobre 2002
Par Michael Charton - Publié sur
I am a native New Yorker. The 1863 Draft Riot was the worst event in the city's history before Sept. 11, 2001. Kevin Baker has written a riveting, painful piece of historic fiction that is well researched. For more about New York (then only Manhattan) slum life, read Jacob Riis How The Other Half Lives. Almost all of New York's inhabitants in 1863 lived between the Battery and about 14th Street. The city was crowded and sordid. As horrific as the violence was, you can see why the city's poor Irish finally exploded. In their eyes, they were being sent off to the war, to free people who would then take their jobs. In other words, to use modern corporatespeak, lose/lose. This does not excuse what happen, but explains the context. The author shows you how the violence was so bad, the police couldn't cope and regiments from Gettysburg had to be brought in to stop it. Also read Herbert Asbury's the Gangs of New York to get an idea of what it was like. It was the worst of times, and Kevin Baker showed us how and why.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fabulous Book... 15 septembre 2004
Par SJayneHB - Publié sur
I bought a copy of Paradise Alley at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. This book was amazing, historical fiction at its finest. The descriptions of conditions during the Famine, on the ship to America, and the slums of NY were so vivid, I felt so much emotion for the characters. Very well done.
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