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Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow
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Billy Bathgate (1989)

by E. L. Doctorow

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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
An absolutely brilliant mix of fact and fancy. The story of the downfall of the Dutch Schultz gang as told by a young hanger-on who manages to insinuate himself into the club. Excellent full characterizations, intricate plot and wonderful use of the English language. After reading it, I looked at the real story of Dutch Schultz on Wikipedia. Doctorow did a fabulous job of using the known details and weaving Billy's story into it. Excellent story and writing. ( )
  AliceAnna | Aug 9, 2014 |
Billy Bathgate features Doctorow's distinctive narrative style at its best, plus a riveting plot and a thought-provoking ending. ( )
  KayMackey | Jan 7, 2014 |
A much better read 20 years later. ( )
  bontley | Aug 24, 2013 |
I read this book because it won the Book Critics Circle fiction award for 1989. It is the 27th such winner I have read. It is laid in 1935 and tells of the ingratiating way that Billy, age 15, worked his way into the Dutch Schultz gang by being "capable" and doing what he was told. It read easily and is of interest as an insight into gangsterdum in that era. The story skips around some, telling of the death of a character--dumped into the ocean after having his feet encased in cement--and then telling of what lead up to that murder--although just why Bo was murdered in not spelled out. One of course cannot admire the central character, except that he was making himself agreeable to the mammon of iniquity, as Scripture suggests.. ( )
  Schmerguls | May 22, 2013 |
The notorious Dutch Schultz gang is revered by the young deprived boys of the Bronx, among them and no less impressed is Billy Bathgate who is keen to become involved, so when the chance arises he does not hold back and soon this precocious young fifteen year old finds himself accepted into the gang. This is the world of protection rackets, gang enforced business monopolies and tax evasion set against the background of drive by shootings and big black Packards.

Billy's diligence, inventiveness and initiative is such that very soon Schultz is referring to Billy as his protege. We follow Billy's rise within the gang, and his various assignments through to the ultimate fate of the gang, and to what becomes of Billy thereafter.

The shear beauty of the prose is enough to keep one going through this involving account, even if I did hesitate when just a few pages in it seemed we were going to witness a brutal gang retribution; while the horrors of gang life are there it never descended into any unnecessary gruesomeness, but maintains the emphasis on the individuality of the various characters, primarily the members of the gang and the beautiful young women who becomes involved with Schultz, and through such, Billy.

Billy Bathgate is a most involving novel, the character of the title is most endearing, but above all it is the high quality of the flowing prose that is the real pleasure of this book. ( )
  presto | Apr 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
E. L. Doctorowprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deakins, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Toorn, Willem vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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He had to have planned it because when we drove onto the dock the boat was there and the engine was running and you could see the water churning up phosphorescence in the river, which was the only light there was because there was no moon, nor no electric light either in the shack where the dockmaster should have been sitting, nor on the boat itself, and certainly not from the car, yet everyone knew where everything was, and when the big Packard came down the ramp Mickey the driver braked it so that the wheels hardly rattled the boards, and when he pulled up alongside the gangway the doors were already open and they hustled Bo and the girl upside before they even made a shadow in all that darkness.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394525299, Hardcover)

In the Bronx of the 1930s, 15-year-old Billy Bathgate hooks up with a legendary mobster, Dutch Schultz. Schultz becomes an unlikely surrogate parent to the boy, introducing him to the ways of the world and training Billy to follow in his footsteps. After Billy falls for Schulz's latest girlfriend, he begins to question the actions of the mob he was so eager to join. As he seeks to protect the young woman, he gains strength in following his own heart and makes a courageous passage from boyhood to adulthood. E.L Doctorow won the 1990 PEN/Faulkner Award for this novel.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:27 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The story of Billy Bathgate, a boy who has insinuated himself into the inner circle of the notorious Dutch Schultz gang to become apprentice and protege to one of the great murdering gangsters.

» see all 3 descriptions

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