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Through the colorful autobiography of pickpocket and con man George Appo, Timothy Gilfoyle brings to life the opium dens, organized criminals, and prisons that comprised the rapidly changing criminal underworld of late nineteenth-century America. The book's introduction and supporting documents, which include investigative reports and descriptions of Appo and his world, connect Appo's memoir to the larger story of urban New York and how and why crime changed during this period. It also explores factors of race and class that led some to a life of crime, the experience of criminal justice and incarceration, and the masculine codes of honor that marked the emergence of the nation's criminal subculture. Document headnotes, a chronology, questions for consideration, and a selected bibliography offer additional pedagogical support.
Timothy J. Gilfoyle (Ph.D. Columbia University) is professor of history at Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Gilfoyle's research and teaching focuses on American urban and social history. His books include A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth Century New York; Millennium Park:Creating a Chicago Landmark; and City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920. He is also the co-author with Patricia Cline Cohen and Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz The Flash Press: Sporting Men's Weeklies in the 1840s. Gilfoyle has been a Minow Family Foundation Fellow, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, a senior fellow at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History, and an N.E.H./Lloyd Lewis Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago.