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Extended Audio Sample Paradise Alley: A Novel, by Kevin Baker Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (682 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kevin Baker Narrator: Kevin Baker Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The City of Fire Trilogy Release Date:
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At the height of the Civil War, word spreads through the poorest quarters of New York City that a military draft is about to be implemented—a draft from which any rich man’s son can buy an exemption. The outrage this inspires escalates into the worst urban conflagration in American history.

Down in the waterfront slum of Paradise Alley, three women—Deirdre Dolan O’Kane, Ruth Dove, and Maddy Boyle—struggle with their private fears as they wait for the storm to descend upon them. Deirdre, devastated by the news that her husband, Tom, has been wounded in Gettysburg, must turn for comfort and aid to two women she has always judged as morally depraved: Ruth, married to an ex-slave, and Maddy, a hard-living prostitute.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A gripping saga of New York at war—with the Confederacy and with itself—climaxing in the torrential Draft Riots that roar through the city’s streets, sweeping the brilliantly realized characters to their respective destinies.”

    Mike Wallace, Pulitzer Prize–winning coauthor of Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898

  • “Rich in color and drama...Extraordinary...A triumph.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Extraordinary...Baker achieves a hallucinatory realism packed with sensory detail, demonstrating why historical fiction is able to trump conventional historiography.” 

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “An engrossing epic.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “One of the best books of 2002.”

    Boston Globe

  • “What makes Paradise Alley a most worthy read is the author’s inestimable talent for breathing life into the people who inhabit his world. It is in coming to know and care about these characters’ lives and their futures that makes this novel a rare and special work.” 

    Denver Post

  • “A page-turning epic.”

    New York Post

  • “Inspired...Vividly entertaining, and its themes are as timely as any drawn from this morning’s newspaper.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “[A] huge success...Fascinating, instructive, never pedantic.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “Phenomenal.”

    San Diego Union-Tribune

  • “Brilliant.”

    Hartford Courant

  • “Baker is a master...Paradise Alley probes the primal mystery of those opposite poles, love and war, with skill, drama, and deep humanity.”

    Edmonton Journal

  • “The combination of momentous events, tellingly real aspects of lower-class 19th-century life, and raw emotions like fear and pride make this a viscerally affecting story.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[A] richly detailed, impeccably researched drama.”

    Booklist

  • “Deftly plotted, fabulously detailed, and never less than absorbing. An authoritative blend of documentary realism and driving narrative that’s just about irresistible.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “With Paradise Alley, Kevin Baker emerges as our finest historical novelist, illuminating a critical and unexplored moment of the Civil War with compassion and vitality...Baker’s novel of immigration, slavery, rage, and rebellion miraculously captures not just the essence of our nation’s past but of where we stand today. Paradise Alley is a powerful and unforgettable book.”

    Peter Nichols, author of Evolution’s Captain

  • Paradise Alley is a powerful book that eschews what’s trendy for the old-fashioned literary pleasures: rigorous storytelling, deeply felt observation, and a judicious use of the bombshell surprise. Do yourself a favor and read it.” 

    Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng and The Real McCoy

  • Winner of the 2003 James Fenimore Cooper Prize for Best Historical Novel
  • Winner of the American Book Award for Fiction
  • One of the 2002 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Julie starr | 2/15/2014

    " epic. historical fiction takes place in nyc during the civil war. fascinating, page turner. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Scott Stadum | 2/11/2014

    " A compelling work of historical fiction, painting a riveting tale of New York City during the Civil War. The perspective of the Irish immigrant, the runaway slave and a city and nation in turmoil, telling the story of the New York City Draft Riots in a manner I had not been exposed to previously. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Alicia | 2/1/2014

    " Intense novel about NY history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Abby | 1/23/2014

    " Amazing! A great read, based on real life events. I'm amazed at how much research the author did to write this. Also, it depicts life in the mid 19th century in NYC, Civil War, slavery, race riots, the Irish Famine, etc. so vividly. Loved it, but thought the last chapter could have been more powerful. "

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