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Archive for the 'New York City' Category

Friday, June 16th, 2017

The Nation Calls

The Untold Journey

“Diana listened to her husband’s end of the conversation from the entrance to the kitchen, where she was standing. She understood at once that he was talking to Margaret Marshall, the literary editor of The Nation. She quickly surmised that Marshall was asking her husband if he had any candidates who might be interested in writing unsigned reviews of novels for the magazine. As soon as Lionel hung up the receiver, she walked over to him, smiled, and surprised herself by asking if she would be a suitable candidate. She wanted to be in the running.” — Natalie Robins

This week, our featured book is The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling, by Natalie Robins. Today, for the final post of the feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from The Untold Journey in which Robins talks about the Trillings’ Partisan Review parties (featuring Mary McCarthy, Hannah Arendt, Elizabeth Hardwick, Meyer Schapiro, Alfred Kazin, and others) and about how Diana started reviewing books for The Nation.

The Nation Calls
By Natalie Robins

In 1937, two years before his book on Arnold was published, Lionel began writing for the new, Communist-free Partisan Review, a magazine whose strong intellectual and cultural influence would last for decades. It was edited by William Phillips and Philip Rahv, two men who had first met at meetings of the John Reed Club. Both men, and their wives, would become close friends of the Trillings.

Diana, gratified by her husband’s accomplishments, nonetheless began to feel very uncomfortable at the Partisan Review parties they attended. Her views were overlooked in discussions by and large because she was not a writer, at least not a published one. “If you went in as a wife, which I did in the early years of my married life, they [the parties] were hell,” she later told the writer Patricia Bosworth. Mary McCarthy, who was listed on the masthead of the first issue of Partisan Review, wrote an occasional theater column for it, and at the time was living with Rahv, especially snubbed Diana. McCarthy focused all her attention on Lionel. But Lionel did not enjoy being in her spotlight. “What makes an intelligent woman suppose that the way to attract a man is to be rude to his wife?” Lionel asked Diana, as she reported in The Beginning of the Journey. She later made clear that despite everything, “Lionel never got upset about anything that happened to himself the way he got upset if something went wrong for me, and I felt that way about him.” This was because of “their extraordinary mutuality,” and “extraordinary alikeness.” They had fierce and spirited minds and a powerful sense of loyalty that transcended their acute emotional difficulties.

Mary McCarthy, along with the political theorist (as she liked to be known) Hannah Arendt, and later on, the critic and novelist Elizabeth Hardwick, and the historian Bea Kristol, writing under her birth name Gertrude Himmelfarb, all had “honorary membership” in Partisan Review, Diana told Bosworth. And “they all weren’t friendly at all,” even though Himmelfarb and Diana would, for a long while, become pretty good pals. But in general, in the late 1930s, and for several decades after, there was no sisterhood. As for Arendt, Diana said that she “never said hello to me in her whole life. I guess she wanted to go to bed with Lionel. That was usually the reason when women weren’t pleasant to me.” (more…)

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Introducing The Untold Journey

The Untold Journey

“Diana Trilling’s life—one full of secrets, contradictions, and betrayals—chronicles social, political, sexual, and literary changes over the decades of the twentieth century, enormous changes she lived through and was in almost constant conflict over.” — Natalie Robins

This week, our featured book is The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling, by Natalie Robins. Today, we are happy to present an excerpt from Robins’ preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Untold Journey!

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Book Giveaway! The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling

The Untold Journey

“Robins’ absorbing life-study of Diana Trilling is rich in surprises. The book is a fine-grained portrait of the celebrated Trilling marriage, of Lionel’s private weaknesses, and of his carefully concealed dependence on Diana’s engagement in the making of his books. The story told includes Diana Trilling’s campaign for her own place in the world of letters and deftly characterizes the political landscape of their time. The finished portrait is shocking but humane, and is drawn with wit and art.” — Norman Rush

This week, our featured book is The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling, by Natalie Robins. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

74th Street/Roosevelt Avenue: Queens Masala

International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

“Far from becoming intimidated by the attention she attracts when she is on the subway in her burka, Aisha says that her mother enjoys riding on the subway. The stares they receive sometimes make them feel more foreign and different, but they still are proud to be in public in the city wearing clothing appropriate to their religious beliefs.” — Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum

This week, our featured book is International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train, by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum. For the week’s final post, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s second chapter, “Coping with Diversity Aboard the ‘International Express.’”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of the book!

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Asserting Their Rights to Be Different, New York Style

International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

“Notably, civil inattention is a skill consisting of giving accounts of one’s presence and intentions that these young riders must learn to assess and utilize. Riding in a group or alone helps them realize that they do not have to give up their identity in order to disappear into the crowd of riders. They can be New Yorkers and Muslim, New Yorkers and Hispanic, and so on as long as they are competent at riding the trains.” — Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum

This week, our featured book is International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train, by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum. For today’s post, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s seventh chapter, “Teenagers on the 7 Train.”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of the book!

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

A Media Roundup for International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

“You’ll meet people all over the world who will say, “Oh yeah, I used to live in New York. I used to ride the 7 train or 6 train. I used to get off [at] this station”—and they’ll tell you the station. They may have never succeeded in becoming Americans, or never wanted to, but they became New Yorkers, to the extent that they could use the transit system to get around.” — William Kornblum

This week, our featured book is International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train, by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum. Today, we are pleased to present excerpts from some of the great press attention that the book has received

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of International Express!

First, in The Atlantic‘s CityLab blog, Tanvi Misra interviews Tonnelat and Kornblum about what their ethnographic research on the 7 train has taught them about the subway line, New York, and the immigrant experience:

One of the young people cited in the book noted something very interesting: How a person swipes the Metrocard can divulge whether or not they live in the city. That anecdote highlights one of the main arguments you’re making in the book, that taking the subway helps newcomers assimilate and develop a common identity, not just as riders of a particular train line, but as New Yorkers. Could you talk about that?

Tonnelat: The competencies that people learn on the train are, in fact, urban competencies. They can be applied anywhere. That way, the subway opens up the city materially, through [access to different places around the city], but also socially.

Kornblum: You’ll meet people all over the world who will say, “Oh yeah, I used to live in New York. I used to ride the 7 train or 6 train. I used to get off [at] this station”—and they’ll tell you the station. They may have never succeeded in becoming Americans, or never wanted to, but they became New Yorkers, to the extent that they could use the transit system to get around.

(more…)

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Becoming New Yorkers on the 7 Train

International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

“New Yorkers are proud, even boastful, about the city’s diversity, and in this study we seek to know more about the actual experiences of diversity as it occurs in daily life, primarily on one subway line, the 7 train. We look at how social diversity affects the riders and the functioning of the system itself.” — Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum

This week, our featured book is International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train, by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s first chapter, “Becoming New Yorkers on the 7 Train.”

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of the book!

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Book Giveaway! International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train

“As a lifelong resident of Flushing and a lifelong rider of the Flushing line, I’m absolutely thrilled about this new book. Tonnelat and Kornblum have become one with the 7, a gritty transit spoke that for generations has doubled as a lifeline as it meanders seemingly halfway around the world right through a dozen neighborhoods in Queens.” — John Liu, former New York City comptroller and councilman

This week, our featured book is International Express: New Yorkers on the 7 Train, by Stéphane Tonnelat and William Kornblum. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

Soul Dollars

Down the Up Staircase

“Harlem was full of contradictions for anyone who dared to look. Mamie Canty, my mother’s seamstress, was also a fulltime bookie for Harlem kingpin Nicky Barnes, one of the biggest drug dealers in the city.” — Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Down the Up Staircase!

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Introducing Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family

Down the Up Staircase

“We owned a three-story brownstone in Harlem, the kind built for a rising moneyed class. Now it stood as a testament to our family’s rise and demise over the century. Its walls echoed the voices of three generations of a black middle-class family: the hard-won glories of my grandfather, the whispered regrets and concessions of my parents, the fall from grace of their firstborn, and the wrenching blow that came with the death of their second.” — Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. To start the week’s feature, we are happy to present an excerpt from the book’s preface.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of Down the Up Staircase!

Monday, April 17th, 2017

Book Giveaway! Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family

Down the Up Staircase

“Bruce D. Haynes’s story is a classic American tale—which combines the big themes of history with the gritty reality of a single family’s extraordinary story.” — Jeffrey Toobin

This week, our featured book is Down the Up Staircase: Three Generations of a Harlem Family, by Bruce D. Haynes and Syma Solovitch. Throughout the week, we will be featuring content about the book and its author on our blog as well as on our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Richard Plunz on Housing in New York City

A History of Housing, Richard Plunz

We conclude our week-long feature on New York City books with A History of Housing in New York City, by Richard Plunz, who recently appeared on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the book.

In the interview, Plunz discussed the unique historical situation that New York City confronts today with a combination of a housing shortage and an affordability crisis. As Plunz explains, the efforts of Mayors Bloomberg and DeBlasio have largely been frustrated for a variety of political and economic reasons. With new little land in the City to build upon, solutions to the problem are somewhat elusive.

Plunz also talked about the future of public housing and ways in which neighborhood can become more integrated. Needless to say, the city’s most famous real-estate figure was also discussed and Plunz expressed skepticism that the president-elect would pay much attention to housing for those not in the upper classes.

Finally, Plunz considers his favorite part of the book, which was Bronx in the 1920s. It was during this period that many immigrants moved out of the Lower East Side and built great housing in the Bronx and created a vibrant community of associations and neighborhoods.

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

The Prehistory of Brooklyn Bridge Park

A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park

We are continuing our focus on New York City books with A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park: How a Community Reclaimed and Transformed New York City’s Waterfront, Nancy Webster and David Shirley.

In the introduction, Webster and Shirley examine the prehistory to the park and how the area, which was once a bustling pier fell into disuse. By the 1970s, the piers had become abandoned and it was at this point that the Brooklyn community stepped in to imagine the space as a possible park on the water.

At the end of the introduction, we’ve included some images from how the park looks today.

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

A 19th Century Populist Revolt Against NYC’s Elite — An Excerpt from “In Pursuit of Privilege”

In Pursuit of Privilege, Clifton Hood

“The draft riots were carried out by desperate people who had serious grievances against the established order yet who lacked access to political and social channels for seeking redress for their grievances. Resorting to force because they had few alternatives, the rioters conducted reprisals against members of social groups and institutions whom they blamed for their suffering.”—Clifton Hood, In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City’s Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis

One of the most violent challenges to New York City’s elite was during the Draft Riots in 1863. Clifton Hood writes about the riots in his new book In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City’s Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis. In the passage below, Hood describes how white working-class frustrations led to violence against African Americans and the elite:

Irish immigrants lived in appalling poverty and endured ethnic and religious discrimination from the Protestant majority. In the six months since President Lincoln had made the abolition of slavery an official war aim by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, speeches by Fernando Wood and other Peace Democrats had stoked Irish fears that the freed slaves would compete for jobs and drive down wages. And now, with the passage of a conscription law designed to rectify the manpower shortages caused by the wartime slaughter, the federal government proposed to tear working-class men from their families and send them to the butcher’s yard, all, it seemed, to elevate African Americans above white workers.Worse yet was a provision of the conscription law permitting anyone who had been drafted to secure an exemption by paying a $300 waiver fee, a stipulation that put the burden of combat on the poor.

The draft riots were carried out by desperate people who had serious grievances against the established order yet who lacked access to political and social channels for seeking redress for their grievances. Resorting to force because they had few alternatives, the rioters conducted reprisals against members of social groups and institutions whom they blamed for their suffering. Mobs assaulted sites associated with the Republican Party, such as the offices of the New York Tribune and the home of its editor, Horace Greeley, and symbols of police and military authority, like police stations and draft offices. Yet their prime targets were African Americans. A large crowd attacked the Colored Orphan Asylum on Fifth Avenue, clubbing to death a nine-year-old girl who was discovered hiding under a bed. African American men were beaten and sometimes killed and mutilated. The bodies of African American men were hung from trees and lampposts. Their homes were destroyed. By the time that five regiments dispatched from the Gettysburg battlefield could restore calm, at least 105 people died and another 2,000 were injured.

To read more:

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Book(s) Giveaway! 3 New Books on New York City!

This week we are very excited to be featuring three new titles in New York City history: In Pursuit of Privilege: A History of New York City’s Upper Class and the Making of a Metropolis, by Clifton Hood; A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park: How a Community Reclaimed and Transformed New York City’s Waterfront, by Nancy Webster and David Shirley; and the revised edition of A History of Housing in New York City, by Richard Plunz with a foreword by Kenneth T. Jackson.

In addition to featuring the book and the author on the blog, we will also be posting about the book on twitter, and facebook.

We are also offering a FREE copy of each book to one lucky winner! To enter the contest please e-mail pl2164@columbia.edu and include your name and address. The winner will be selected Friday, November 18 at 1:00 pm.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Interview with Richard Plunz, author of “A History of Housing in New York City”

Richard Plunz, A History of Housing in New York City

“Beyond doubt the large question facing New York housing production today has to do with a market that can not provide for the half of our households that are low income…. One can hope that growing public pressure bottom-up can merge with a top-down realization that we need to innovate in order to grow and prosper as a competitive and cosmopolitan global urban entity.”—Richard Plunz

Tonight, Richard Plunz will be at The Museum of the City of New York to discuss the revised edition of his classic book, A History of Housing in New York City. Below is an interview he recently had with the State of the Planet, part of the Earth Institute:

Question: What prompted you to revise the history?

Richard Plunz: The book has had a long shelf-life and is still very much in use, such that it seems important to update it to include the period of the past two decades. As well, the changes that the past 25 years have brought seem especially important to keep in the public eye, as housing becomes a growing concern in New York. Indeed, housing production plays an essential role in forming our culture and economy, and at present is too little recognized as such. For example, housing should be considered “resilient infrastructure,” but is rarely considered as such. And “climate resilience” obviously must engage where and how people live, let’s say the “soft” side of the equation, in addition to heavy infrastructure. Amazingly, infrastructural discussion in the present presidential campaign is limited to roads and bridges and shorelines, rather than to city fabrics, even as every city faces “affordability” issues of one form or another.

Q: Looking over the past 25 years, what do you see as the most significant changes or trends in housing in the city?

RP: There are many changes, and many are substantial improvements in the quality of life in the city relative to the rather dark days of the 1980s, which is when the earlier edition ends its narrative. As Ken Jackson describes so well in his preface, the Bronx is no longer burning, the pathologies of crack cocaine are no longer with us, and all of the advantages of our density are apparent as we move into an age when urban resilience is synonymous with well-being both local and global. Yet there is a dark side to this transformation. Neighborhoods have gentrified to the great detriment of long-term residents who are displaced; the positive economics have not abated the homeless dilemma; the robust housing market is limited to the high end, [and] that leaves half of the city with little recourse. And if the growing lack of equity in terms of access to adequate housing will not abate, how will we be able to resolve our long-term economic and social viability.

Q: You say in your preface to the revised edition of A History of Housing in New York City that New York has had the most severe housing problems, and also been a center for innovation and reform. In updating the story, where now do you see the worst problems, and where do you find innovation, and perhaps reform?

RP: Beyond doubt the large question facing New York housing production today has to do with a market that can not provide for the half of our households that are low income. And while both Mayors DeBlasio and Bloomberg tried various measures to stimulate this production, it remains unacceptably flat. The last mayoral campaign was won based on this question of fundamental inequities. But our tools for stimulation are too limited, and therefore innovation must somehow break out of normative models. One can hope that growing public pressure bottom-up can merge with a top-down realization that we need to innovate in order to grow and prosper as a competitive and cosmopolitan global urban entity.

(more…)

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Columbia University Press wins big at the New York Book Show

The winners for the New York Book Show (an annual design competition hosted by the Book Industry Guild of New York) were announced last week. We’re proud to share that Columbia University Press won in eight categories this year, an incredible achievement.

The winners are:

Violence and Civility (jacket design)
Designer: Chang Jae Lee
“The book discusses the insidious causes of violence, racism, nationalism, mass dispossession, and ethnic cleansing worldwide. The (in)advertent black ink blots around the handwritten type, with the introduction of magenta, are meant to hint at blood drops as the visual effects of violence.”
Violence and Civility

The Hillary Doctrine (jacket design)
Designer: Jordan Wannemacher
“I was excited to work on this book because it was about such an important piece of foreign policy and feminist history. We printed this on a beautiful foil paper that metallicized the flag and the type. The result was an authoritative cover with a lot of visual depth.”
The Hillary Doctrine (more…)

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Forget the Turkey! Doughnuts!

Gastropolis, Thanksgiving in New York City

As many of us begin to prepare our turkeys and other fixings, we conclude our focus on Thanksgiving by turning to a surprising chapter in the holiday’s history when doughnuts made an appearance:

In his chapter, “The Food and Drink of New York from 1624 to 1898,” from Gastropolis: Food and New York City, Andrew Smith describes the role George Washington and doughnuts have played in how the holiday has been celebrated in New York City:

Although it had originated in New England, [Thanksgiving] was quickly adopted in communities throughout New York. Indeed, it was in New York City that President George Washington issued the first presiden­tial thanksgiving proclamation, which set aside Thursday, November 26, 1789, as a day of prayer and thanksgiving. New York was one of the first states outside New England to declare Thanksgiving an official holiday. In 1795, John Jay, the governor of New York, tried to establish a statewide thanksgiving day, and in 1817 it was finally recognized as a state holiday. Thanksgiving was celebrated with what is now considered the traditional meal of turkey, apple pie, mince pie, and cranberries; New Yorkers often added doughnuts and crullers to the menu. Thanksgiving holiday remained an important holiday throughout the nineteenth century. The Ladies Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church opened a mission in the gang-infested Five Points District, and on Thanksgiving Day, under the eyes of their bene­factors, the ladies paraded and fed hundreds of Sunday-school students.

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Themes from The Con Men

The Con Men

“This book came about because both Terry and I are New Yorkers who came here from other places. There are the known mechanics of this city, and then its underground economy. We came to The Con Men as a way of making sense of this untaxed and unauthorized world.” — Trevor B. Milton

This week, our featured book is The Con Men: Hustling in New York City, by Terry Williams and Trevor B. Milton. In today’s post, Trevor B. Milton looks back at the genesis of the book, and explains some of the key threads that tie the book’s many stories together.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Con Men!

Themes from The Con Men
By Trevor B. Milton

This book came about because both Terry and I are New Yorkers who came here from other places. There are the known mechanics of this city, and then its underground economy. We came to The Con Men as a way of making sense of this untaxed and unauthorized world. There is something in this book for everyone who has ever resided in this city, something familiar to all who walk its streets. New York City is the unit of analysis; con artists and hustlers are the bi-product.

New York City is rugged, aggressive, and competitive, yet it is also one of the most desirable cities in the world, with broad boulevards, tree-lined avenues, yellow and lime-green cabs darting hither and yon, and frantic crowds moving along busy streets. And though New Yorkers constantly complain about trash, traffic, trains, and any number of other hassles, most of them readily acknowledge that they live in one of the greatest cities in the world. Among its many finer points, New York offers access to the best museums and cultural institutions and an intelligentsia unmatched anywhere. New York, New York: a city so nice they named it twice… (more…)

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Cop Cons

The Con Men

“I asked Frank if he would volunteer any stories of police corruption. ‘So is there such a thing as a police con? Or a police hustle?’ Frank smiled so big that I couldn’t see his eyes. ‘Of course.’ He slouched in the bench and folded his arms, allowing some of the memories to come to him. ‘Well, the con is like, the con is the classic good guy/bad guy. That’s the con. That’s the biggest one.’” — Terry Williams and Trevor B. Milton

This week, our featured book is The Con Men: Hustling in New York City, by Terry Williams and Trevor B. Milton. When most people think of con games, they tend to think of the kind of three-card monte that they’ve seen in movies. However, as this excerpt from The Con Men reveals, con games can happen in a wide variety of circumstances, and con artists can be people from all walks of life.

Don’t forget to enter our book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Con Men!