Author • Criminologist • Professor • Patriarch

Jefferson Avenue: Stories from a Brooklyn Boyhood 1941-1958

Criminologist James M. O’Kane traces his lifelong fascination with the urban world to the gypsies, gangsters, and priests of his boyhood in post-World War II Brooklyn. In this vivid memoir he details what his Irish immigrant family faced and what kept them strong. Jefferson Avenue evokes an important era in the American story and points to what was lost in the move to the suburbs.

Word on the street about Jefferson Avenue

“Jim O’Kane’s memoir reminds me of Angela’s Ashes. Both celebrate the pleasures and pains of a postwar childhood in a vibrant neighborhood of Brooklyn. Both detail its dangers while reminding us of the survival skills we developed as we groped our way to and through adolescence. Anyone who lived in such a time and place will recognize the stresses of daily life and how we overcame them and even prevailed. Anyone who did not will feel relieved and yet envious.”

—Robert Lynch
Professor Emeritus, New Jersey Institute of Technology

“O’Kane writes for his grandchildren and for ours about cherished lost times on the streets of Brooklyn. In the pages of this book the old will remember and the young will learn. Change a few details and you will find your own childhood and adolescence. You will walk with the author as he unfolds a story full of humor, mischief, and poignancy.”

—James J. Gray Ph.D
Professor of Psychology, American University

“Jefferson Avenue: Stories from a Brooklyn Boyhood is a folksy and fascinating story of life in a simpler time when Dr. Jim O’Kane and his peers developed lifelong relationships and street smarts while growing up in Brooklyn in the ’40s and ’50s. With almost thirty years of experience in a variety of legal roles, I still rely on humane lessons learned while sitting on the edge of my seat in Dr. O’Kane’s classroom at Drew University. They remind me that defendants, police, and probation officers are also individuals entitled to the respect and decency that all of us deserve as participants in the New Jersey Criminal Justice System.”

—Andrew M. Baron, Esq.
Managing Partner, Kochanski, Baron & Galfy
Rahway, New Jersey

“These pages open a window to a time before New York City’s current renaissance — a time when people defined themselves primarily by their ethnicity and misunderstanding fueled distrust, stereotyping, and even violence. Most Brooklyn residents of today would not recognize this portrait of their beloved borough sixty years ago and might even be appalled. But James O’Kane experienced it firsthand and recounts what it was like to grow up in that world. He weaves some charming stories of youth to which we can all relate while preserving the uniqueness of coming of age in a city where diverse ethnic groups were still growing accustomed to living in close quarters.”

—Mark Young
New York City Resident and Brooklyn native

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Details

Jefferson Avenue: Stories from a Brooklyn Boyhood 1941-1958

By James M. O’Kane
Pre-publication availability November 2013
Released March 26, 2014

Trade paperback $12.95 US, £7.95, €9.95
ISBN-13: 978-1493767045
ISBN-10: 1493767046

© Copyright 2013-2014 James M. O’Kane
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