Books by Howard Blum

A former New York Times reporter and current Vanity Fair contributing editor, Howard Blum is a two-time Pulitzer finalist and the bestselling author of a number of books, including Gangland (1993) and American Lightning (2008). His latest book is called The Floor of Heaven, and Kirkus called it “a truly memorable frontier tale.” Photo credit: Mark Schafer/Courtesy of Vanity Fair

Released: Feb. 20, 2018

"Taut and well-crafted—of great interest to students of spydom and the early Cold War."
"Both died without making any confessions": a finely detailed study of crime and punishment in the days of the Manhattan project. Read full book review >
Released: April 12, 2016

"Occasionally breathless and torrid in description, this is a well-documented work that certainly never bores."
Fascinating portrait of an accidental but very effective female American spy at the fraught early stages of World War II. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 11, 2014

"Instructive, yes, but also as engrossing as good detective fiction."
Terrifically engaging and pertinent tale of the New York City bomb squad that foiled German terrorist plots against the United States at the outbreak of World War I. Read full book review >
Released: April 26, 2011

"Apportioning just the right attention to each of their stories, Blum weaves a truly memorable frontier tale."
An accomplished storyteller and two-time Pulitzer nominee charts the criss-crossed lives of three remarkable Klondike characters. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

"Unfailingly entertaining."
Two-time Pulitzer nominee Blum (The Eve of Destruction, 2003, etc.) cinematically explores the 1910 dynamiting of the Los Angeles Times building. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 6, 2003

"A fine exercise in popular history, in time for the 30th anniversary of the conflict."
Failed intelligence, a surprise attack, the threat of weapons of mass destruction—and that's just in the first few pages of this suspenseful account of the last unified Arab attempt to destroy Israel. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 2, 2001

"Military historians, fans of war stories, and lovers of Judaica: all will all be pleased."
An action-packed, real-life drama featuring the first Jewish army to go into combat for 2,000 years. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1998

Tom Clancy meets Indiana Jones in this far-fetched but gripping account of archaeology, biblical treasure, and international espionage. Former New York Times journalist Blum (Gangland, 1993; Out There, 1990) has crafted a rousing narrative from the recollections of two American thrill seekers. The pair became convinced in the 1980s that the real Mt. Sinai was not in fact the tourist trap of that name on the Sinai peninsula, but an obscure peak in the Saudi Arabian desert. But their quest to find this mountain, Jabal al Lawz, was thwarted at nearly every turn, first by the difficulty of getting visas, then by ever-present spies, and finally by a frightening discovery: The entire mountain is now the site of a top-secret Saudi military operation. Called Project Falcon, the plan ensures that the Saudi Air Force can deal effectively with an air strike or even mount a missile offensive. Blum muses on the irony that the modern state of Israel could be annihilated from the holy site where God once descended to give the law to Moses. But questions remain about whether Jabal al Lawz is, in fact, the real Sinai. The circumstantial evidence is impressive, including the fact that the site is the correct distance from various landmarks given in the Bible. The Americans report that the top of the mountain is scorched black, as though by fire. But there is no corroboration for these claims, and given Blum's grand assertions that the Saudi military has overrun the area and laid exclusive claim to the ``gold of exodus'' buried there, it is unlikely that future confirmation will be possible. Still, this is a spine-tingling yarn, full of intrigue and adventure. It should translate well to the screen; film rights have already been sold to Castle Rock Entertainment. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First printing of 100,000; first serial to Vanity Fair) Read full book review >
GANGLAND by Howard Blum
Released: Nov. 8, 1993

John Gotti now sits in a top-security federal prison, locked into his cell 23 hours a day, allowed to shower once a week. How the Mafia's capo di tutti capi reached that sorry fate is the subject of Blum's intensively researched, hypnotically absorbing true-crime report. There have been other excellent books on Gotti (e.g., John Cummings and Ernest Volkman's Goombata, 1990), but none written with Blum's flair for drama (Out There, 1990, etc.). What the former New York Times reporter does here is give Gotti a worthy opponent: FBI agent Bruce Mouw, hero to Gotti's villain, Eliot Ness to his Al Capone. To trace Mouw's pursuit of Gotti—which Blum dates back to the June 1980 day when the ``gangly, rather scholarly-looking'' Iowa-born agent was named to head the Bureau's Gambino Family squad—the author conducted 108 interviews and ``made [his] way through a wall-high pile of transcripts.'' As Blum intercuts between Mouw's squad (which included Joseph F. O'Brien and Andris Kurins, whose surveillance of Gotti's predecessor, Paul Castellano, they detailed in Boss of Bosses, 1991) and Gotti's ``crew'' as it rises to power, this diligent research reveals itself in unusual details about Gotti's character (his affair with another mobster's wife; his courtroom reading of Thus Spake Zarathustra); in suspenseful re-creations of the bugging of Gotti's various headquarters; in inside information on how Mouw suborned Gotti's underboss. Blum tends to overmelodramatize—highlighting faint rumor (e.g., that Gotti chain-sawed the man who accidentally killed his young son); overplaying certain themes, like Mouw's hunt for a cop-mole, or the Dapper Don's smirk—but there's no denying the fire-breathing power of his Gotti or the cinematic slickness of his account of Mouw's dogged, righteous manhunt. FBI knight slays Mafia dragon—and Blum milks this latter-day fairy tale for all it's worth. (First serial to New York Magazine; film rights sold to Columbia Pictures) Read full book review >