Thieves of Book Row: New York's Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It

Thieves of Book Row: New York's Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It

by Travis McDade


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No one had ever tried a caper like this before. The goods were kept in a secure room under constant scrutiny, deep inside a crowded building with guards at the exits. The team picked for the job included two old hands known only as Paul and Swede, but all depended on a fresh face, a kid from Pinetown, North Carolina. In the Depression, some fellows were willing to try anything -- even a heist in the rare book room of the New York Public Library.

In Thieves of Book Row, Travis McDade tells the gripping tale of the worst book-theft ring in American history, and the intrepid detective who brought it down. Author of The Book Thief and a curator of rare books, McDade transforms painstaking research into a rich portrait of Manhattan's Book Row in the 1920s and '30s, where organized crime met America's cultural treasures in dark and crowded shops along gritty Fourth Avenue. Dealers such as Harry Gold, a tough native of the Lower East Side, became experts in recognizing the value of books and recruiting a pool of thieves to steal them -- many of them unemployed men who drifted up the Bowery or huddled around fires in Central Park's shantytowns. When Paul and Swede brought a new recruit into his shop, Gold trained him for the biggest score yet: a first edition of Edgar Allan Poe's Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems. Gold's recruit cased the rare-book room for weeks, searching for a weakness. When he found one, he struck, leading to a breathtaking game of wits between Gold and NYPL special investigator G. William Bergquist.

Both a fast-paced, true-life thriller, Thieves of Book Row provides a fascinating look at the history of crime and literary culture.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780190239718
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 09/01/2015
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 849,990
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 5.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Travis McDade is the author of The Book Thief: The True Crimes of Daniel Spiegelman and the curator of rare books at the University of Illinois College of Law. He teaches a class at the University of Illinois called "Rare Books, Crime & Punishment."

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Antics of the Leading Industrials
Chapter 2: The Accumulated Wisdom
Chapter 3: A Purloined Poe
Chapter 4: Scholarship and Investigation
Chapter 5: The Boston Scene
Chapter 6: Someone Qualified as a Bookman
Chapter 7: The People of the State of New York and their Dignity
Chapter 8: That's the End of the Rare Book

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Thieves of Book Row: New York's Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love detective stories. I love books. A detective story about book thieves fit me to a T. I can't walk into a library now without thinking about this book when I see the alarm system.  It also led to an interesting discussion with a relative about books in Medieval and bibles chained to a stand in the church 
lawmarine32 More than 1 year ago
A very interesting interesting vein of criminal activity. I thought the author did a nice job bringing a little known type of crime to life. It was a little tedious at times but certainly worth reading. Not a thriller by any means but interesting in its own right. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read about a little known corner of the criminal law. Thoroughly researched, gracefully written, and full of memorable characters. Well worth the investment.