NEW YORK — Sol Yurick, a writer whose best-known work, the 1965 novel “The Warriors," recast an ancient Greek battle as a tale of warring New York street gangs and earned a cult following in print, on film and eventually in a video game, died Saturday in Manhattan. He was 87.
The cause was complications of lung cancer, said his daughter, Susanna Yurick.
Before “The Warriors" was published, Yurick had worked for many years as an investigator for the New York City Department of Welfare. He had grown up poor in the Bronx, the son of Communist activists who struggled to survive the Depression but believed their politics would ultimately rule the world. The people he served at the welfare department struck him as very different. They, too, were impoverished, but they seemed not to believe that they could change things through politics.
He was 40 and a determined leftist when he completed “The Warriors," his first published novel, in which a New York gang flees the Bronx to its home turf in Brooklyn, often by subway, after a night (the Fourth of July) of unexpected conflict involving a failed effort at pan-gang unity.
He based the story on “Anabasis," written by the Greek soldier Xenophon, who helped lead the retreat of 10,000 Greek soldiers after their failed conquest of Persia around 400 B.C.