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Empire Rising by Thomas Kelly
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Empire Rising

by Thomas Kelly

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I happened to stumble across this novel in the library. The first thing that attracted me to it was the cover, and then I found out that it is historical fiction and I knew I had to read it. This novel is about the building of the Empire State Building. Briody, an ironworker working on the Empire State Building, also helps run arms, explosives, and other things back to Ireland to help the Irish republican cause. His world gets turned upside down when he meets Grace Masterson, who happens to be the mistress of Johnny Farrell a crooked man of New York politics. The two fall in love and become in danger of Farrell finding out about their romance.
I loved that the book showed glimpses of what it was like for the workers who built the Empire State Building. I loved the romance between Briody and Grace. I have to say that I wasn't fond of the ending but I understand why it was the way it was. I would recommend this novel to historical fiction lovers, and people interested in New York. ( )
  dpappas | Nov 16, 2011 |
Authentic and suspenseful recreation of Depression-era New York through an ironworker who spends his days high atop the rising Empire State Building and his nights doing the bidding of Irish Republicans ( )
  billgreer | Mar 19, 2009 |
In 1930, as the Empire State Building is rising, Irish immigrant Michael Briody is torn between his the commitments of his past and the potential of his future. Briody supplements his income as a steelworker on the Empire State Building by boxing for money part-time. Briody also finds himself pitted against politically-connected Johnny Farrell for the love of the beautiful Grace Masterson. As the New York underworld and corrupt governement centered at Tammany Hall fights against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, New York, particularly the Bronx, is transformed from a working-class neighborhood into a metropolian center of the world. Kelly has created a true working-class hero in Briody as well as bringing the New York City of this era to life though his prose. Fans of E. L. Doctorow, Raymond Chandler, Michael Connolly, or Dashiell Hammett will all be well pleased with this action-packed love story revealed within an atmosphere of political corruption.
  npl | Nov 28, 2008 |
On a flight to Portland, OR a little over 10 years ago I read Payback a novel by Irish-American writer Thomas Kelly. It told the story set in the mid-1980's about Sandhogs, construction workers who build tunnels, with a mix union-management strife, corrupt politicians, Irish gangsters, and family squabbles turned violent. It was a breezy read full of violence and machismo, but intelligent as well.

Now I've listened to Empire Rising (2005) read by Michael Deehy, which is a similar story but set in 1930, at the start of the Great Depression, amid Prohibition, with the construction of the Empire State Building at it's centerpiece.

Michael Briody - a recent emigrant from Ireland. Fought with the British in WWI, against the British in the Anglo-Irish War, and against the Free State in the Irish Civil War. Briody lives in the Bronx, works on a team of iron workers on the Empire State Building, and is an amature boxer. Also he continues to do jobs for the IRA and for Tommy Twohey. Oh yeah, and he also wins the heart of Grace in this novel's central romance.
Grace Masterson - an Irish woman with a troubled past who settles on a house boat in Brooklyn. She visits construction sites to sketch and paint the workers. As Lewis Hine's assistant she's able to enter the ESB site. She's also the paramour for Johnny Farrell who has her "deliver money" to banks around town. Scarred by life, she's surprised that Briody wins her heart despite everything.
Johnny Farrell - the head honcho of Tammany Hall behind the Walker administration. A finger in every pot, whether legal or illegal. Not too pleased to learn that Grace is having liasions with Briody.
Tom Twohey - a boyhood friend of Farrell's who is the chief gangster in their Bronx neighborhood. Also runs guns for the IRA. Finds himself making an uneasy allliance with the Italian mob.

Kelly's fictional characters mix with real-life historical figures such as Mayor Jimmy Walker, Governor Franklin Roosevelt, photographer Lewis Hine, failed presidential candidate Al Smith (also head of the Empire State Building project) and Judge Joseph Crater (working in an answer to Crater's mysterious disappearance).

For the most part this is an entertaining book weaving together New York City history, the Irish-American experience, and the romance of the era. Towards the end it gets over the top as seemingly everyone wants to kill Briody, and for good reasons too as he's got himself mixed up in everything. ( )
  Othemts | Oct 31, 2008 |
Interesting as a sequel to Gangs of New York as a historical fiction account of the end of the New York Irish gangs. Set across the backdrop of ( )
  nunes84 | Oct 21, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312425740, Paperback)

It is 1930, and ground has just been broken for the Empire State Building. One of the thousands of men who will come to work high above the city is Michael Briody, an Irish immigrant torn between his desire to make a new life in America and his pledge to gather money and arms for the Irish republican cause. When he meets Grace Masterson, an alluring artist who is depicting the great skyscraper's rise from her houseboat on the East River, Briody's life suddenly turns exhilarating--and dangerous--for Grace is also a paramour of Johnny Farrell, Mayor Jimmy Walker's liaison with Tammany Hall and the underworld.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:54 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"It is 1930, and ground has just been broken for the building dubbed "the Eighth Wonder of the World." One of the thousands of men working high above the city is Michael Briody, an Irish immigrant torn between his desire to make a new life in America and his pledge to gather money and arms for the Irish republican cause. When he meets Grace Masterson, an alluring artist who is depicting the great skyscraper's rise from her houseboat on the East River, Briody's life turns exhilarating - and dangerous, for Grace is also a paramour of Johnny Farrell, Mayor Jimmy Walker's liaison with Tammany Hall and the New York underworld." "Their heartbreaking love story - which takes place both in the rough neighborhoods of the Bronx and amid the swanky nightlife of the '21' Club - is also a chronicle of the city's passage from a working-class enclave to a world-class metropolis, and a vivid reimagining of the conflict that pitted the Tammany Hall political machine against the boundlessly ambitious Franklin Delano Roosevelt."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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