On the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970s, New York City has been restored as a center of economic and cultural vitality in the 1980s. But it has also become an increasingly brutal place, where incivility reigns, drugs lace the streets, and crime is so pervasive that most New Yorkers now consider it a permanent fixture, like gray skies and impossible traffic. What is it that continues to draw people to this city of contradictions?
Born and educated in New York, Herbert London knows this city of dreams as few do. The Broken Apple is based on his keen observations of New York's social, political, and cultural life over the critical decade of the 1980s. London examines the city's continuing failures, including a city administration unable to meet the most basic citizen needs or to assure safety and security. He sees schools that have become mean-spirited, with teachers unable to teach, administrators unable to maintain order, and students unable to learn. He describes the new slaves of New York as those in search of a place to live, in a city where housing is in shorter supply than in any other major city in the nation. London asks why, despite all this, everything is bigger than life in New York, and finds the answer in New York's role as the nation's communications hub and the measuring rod by which other cities are judged.
London writes with knowledgeable affection about this very special place, where the mundane is freely converted into the metaphorical. His book is an excursion, a guide to what is good, what is bad, and what is awful in the city. It is a montage of the years of Mayor Koch, the period many have described as the city's fin de siecle. But it is also a perscriptive book, pointing out what can be done in practical ways to improve life.
The Broken Apple will be of interest to urban specialists as well as those for whom New York is an aspiration or a reality. Like the city itself, the book has something for everyone, from visions of political corruption to acts of redemption. Above all, it captures the pulsating rhythm of this unique city