Bowery Boys Bookshelf

The readers have spoken! A revised list of 50 essential non-fiction books on New York City history

Last week I posted a list via Riffle Books of my personal choices for 25 books on New York City history that I think everybody should read.  But it was a far from perfect list, so I solicited your help to choose 25 more.

And all I can say is — WOW! I got almost 150 additional selections from you. Thanks for sending in your suggestions. There were dozens of terrific titles suggested by you, and I apologize if your favorite didn’t make the final cut below. I whittled the submissions down to 25 and added those to the previous list, to create the new suggested reading below of 50 Favorite NYC History Books.  In addition, I also made a couple adjustments to my original list based on reader’s suggestions.

There was such strong reaction that expect to see new book lists in the coming months for historical fiction, essays, memoirs, biographies, guidebooks, reference, children’s and young adult, and other categories.  Thanks again!


The books on the list with no covers include ‘Harlem’ by Jonathan Gill, ‘The Most Famous Man In America: Henry Ward Beecher’ by Debby Applegate, ‘Scenes from the Life of a City’ by Eric Hornberger, and ‘The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall’. by Oliver E. Allen

Please feel free to concur or disagree in the comments section below. This is by no means a definite list! There are too many great ones and I’m discovering new ones each day. Who knows, if I recreate this list a year from now, there might be many new replacements.

3 replies on “The readers have spoken! A revised list of 50 essential non-fiction books on New York City history”

Thank you! You guys are awesome. Can’t wait to get started on this list. Bowery Boys book club? I can’t get enough of your podcasts and Copper commentary.

This is a terrific list! I might suggest “The Boys of Summer” by Roger Kahn over “Bums” by Peter Golenbock, though. A couple other titles that spring to mind are “The Power Broker” by Robert Caro, which tells the story of Robert Moses, and “Damon Runyon” by Jimmy Breslin. I also think that “Random Family” by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc does a great job of telling the story of a group of low income women living in the Bronx, while highlighting a New York City way of life that goes under reported.

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