had worked. Not threats or negotiations, not shutting down the betting
parlors or opium dens, not house-to-house searches or throwing Chinese
offenders into prison. Not even executing them. New York's District
Attorney was running out of ideas and more people were dying every day,
as the weapons of choice evolved from hatchets and meat cleavers to
pistols, automatic weapons and even bombs.
Welcome to New York City‘s Chinatown in 1925.
The Chinese in turn-of-the-century New York were mostly immigrant
peasants and shopkeepers who worked as laundrymen, cigar makers and
domestics. They gravitated to lower Manhattan and lived as Chinese an
existence as possible, their few diversions available, but illegal. It
didn’t take long before one resourceful merchant saw a golden
opportunity to feather his nest by positioning himself squarely between
the vice dens and the police charged with shutting them down.
Tong Wars is
historical true-crime set against the perfect landscape: Tammany-era New
York City. Representatives of rival tongs (secret societies) corner the
various vice markets using admirably creative strategies. The city
government was already corrupt from top to bottom, so once one tong
began taxing the gambling dens and paying off the authorities, a rival,
jealously eyeing its lucrative franchise, co-opted a local reformist
group to help eliminate them. Pretty soon Chinese were slaughtering one
another in the streets, inaugurating a succession of wars.
The book roars through three decades of turmoil, with characters ranging
from gangsters and drug lords to reformers and do-gooders to judges,
prosecutors, cops, and pols of every stripe and color. A true story set
in Prohibition-era Manhattan a generation after Gangs
of New York, but fought
on the very same turf.
the men of the On Leong
and Hip Sing tongs,
the police captains and prosecutors, the mayors and
the Progressives and the victims of the tongs.
about New York's four tong wars - who fought them, what caused them
and how they finally ended.
the news about the book and read what the
See rare surviving
video footage of the tongs in the
some images and documents that tell more of the
story, but that couldn't fit into the final book.