Island Of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest To Clean Up Sin Loving New York by Richard Zacks
My rating: ✰✰✰
E-Book, Library Book, Finished: 6/30/2012
This book gives us a very good picture of what life was like in the late 1800’s in Manhattan. We get the picture of the level of ‘sin’ in the city and the efforts of a Reverend Parkhurst to document it. He goes into the Tammany Hall politics of the day and gives us an idea of what Roosevelt was up against.
For Roosevelt to clean up vice he first needed to clean the police department. The NYPD would look the other way when vice laws were being broken, for a price. Many of the captains and commissioners and the chief of police got rich off the illegal gambling, brothels and liquor sales.
Roosevelt attempted to fire the corrupt police officers and hire men of high morals. He managed to ban liquor sales on Sunday (for a while), during the reform there were some claims of false arrests and imprisonments.
Theodore Roosevelt is portrayed as a know-it-all blowhard, this is supported by direct quotes from letters, speeches and newspaper articles. This is a very detailed account of Roosevelt’s time as police commissioner of New York. It doesn’t drag but it is also not an exciting or fast moving story.
I would recommend this book for people who enjoy biographies and history, also for people interested in true crime.