History as Literature | June 01, 1993

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George Appo was no ordinary criminal. Forgotten by the time of his death in 1930, Appo was a quintessential underworld celebrity in nineteenth-century New York City. He grew up in poverty, supported himself by picking pockets, became an opium addict, engaged in counterfeiting schemes, and was incarcerated for over a decade in five different prisons. In 1894, his tales of police corruption before an investigative committee generated not only front-page attention in the penny press, but earned him hatred int he underworld. Perhaps most extraordinary, George Appo wrote an autobiography.

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