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What to Read on Vacation

2. New York Stories

Let the Great World Spin
By Colum McCann (Random House)
A sweeping novel of the city in the seventies told partly through the eyes of an Irish immigrant.

EXCERPT: I’d been in the South Bronx a week. It was so humid, some nights, we had to shoulder the door closed. Kids on the tenth floor aimed television sets at the housing cops who patrolled below. Air mail On the radio there was a song about the revolution being ghettoized. Arson on the streets. It was a city with its fingers in the garbage, a city that ate off dirty dishes. I had to get out.

Wrestling With Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City
By Anthony Flint (July 28; Random House)
The origin story of modern New York. Shorter and more manageable than The Power Broker.

The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream
By Patrick Radden Keefe (July 21; Doubleday)
The chronicle of a middle-aged Chinese woman known as Sister Ping who became the Don Corleone of Fujianese immigrant-smuggling.