Wednesday, May 13, 2009


OK, every once and a while it’s important to have a little fun. I imagine that Patrick Downey the author of Bad Seeds in the Big Apple: Bandits, Killers, and Chaos in New York City, 1920-40must have had a blast researching his book. Reading it was most enjoyable! The book starts out with a synopsis of Gentleman Gerald Chapman (Yippee- cause I still can’t find my book!) and moves on to other notable criminals who are seldom heard about anymore such as the Whittamore gang. Then there are a number of well known and less well known punks such as Two Gun Crowley who weren’t stand up criminals but who were glorified or vilified in the press. In one respect, the book is sad – it’s sad to have one story after another of boys/men who have barely begun life throw their lives away for a thrill. It’s funny why don’t I consider it sad that someone as bright as Gerald Chapmen chose a life of crime, but some pimply faced adolescent whose only claim to fame is killing policemen in an amazing shootout (Crowley) is really depressing to me. I guess because guys like Chapman at least had a chance to live for a bit. Sure, they made bad choices but they lived the life they chose. A kid like Francis Crowley— I don’t think he was mature enough to have thought through what he did. I’m not trying to excuse him. Everyone has to pay the price of his or her actions and that’s one thing this book demonstrates time and time again. Some of these men deserve to be better known (professionalism has its merits) and the rest of Downey’s subjects make great cautionary tales. All in all a good read for the summer. BUT, don’t buy this book expecting a who’s who of NYC’s criminal world if you want to read about Owney Madden, Legs Diamond, etc. You’ll have to look elsewhere—but then you’d miss reading about all of these interesting screw-ups you never heard of before!