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Asbury's violent, visceral novel was adapted by Martin Scorsese into the biggest film of 2002. Nominated for ten Oscars, winner of two BAFTAs and one Golden Globe, Gangs of New York had a hit cast: Leonardo Di Caprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day Lewis and Liam Neeson.
Herbert Asbury was born into a strictly Methodist family in Missouri in 1889. His pious background and his subsequent rejection of Methodism greatly influenced both his philosophy of life and his career as reporter and author. Indeed, many of his books deal with the darker, seamier side of American life. He died in 1963 of chronic lung problems, the legacy of a gas-attack in France during the first World War.
"Asbury was a realist and mid-Western moralist whose book is, as Gopnik notes, 'a kind of surrealist collage of the city's secret history'" -- Robert McCrum * Observer * "Like one of the thugs he writes about, he really is an "extraordinary virtuoso in the art of mayhem"" * Financial Times *