A New York Times Notable Book
A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year
It is 1930, and ground has just been broken for The Empire State Building, dubbed "the Eighth Wonder of the World." One of the thousands of men working high above the city is Michael Briody, an Irish immigrant torn between his desire to make a new life in America and his pledge to gather money and arms for the Irish Republican cause. When he meets Grace Masterson, an alluring artist who is depicting the great skyscraper's rise from her houseboat on the East River, Briody's life turns exhilarating—and dangerous, for Grace is also a paramour of Johnny Farrell, Mayor Jimmy Walker's liaison with Tammany Hall, and the New York underworld.
Their heartbreaking love story—which takes place both in the rough neighborhoods of the Bronx and amid the swanky nightlife of the '21' Club—is also a chronicle of the city's passage from a working-class enclave to a world-class metropolis, and a vivid reimagining of the conflict that pitted the Tammany Hall political machine against the boundlessly ambitious Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
With Payback and The Rackets, Thomas Kelly has shown himself to be a master of the urban thriller. With Empire Rising he takes his work to a new level. In his telling of the story of the people who made America's most distinctivecity, New York is brought exuberantly to life.