- Title: Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century
- Author: Mike Dash
- ISBN: 9781400054718
- Page: 112
- Format: Hardcover
They called it Satan s Circus a square mile of Midtown Manhattan where vice ruled, sin flourished, and depravity danced in every doorway At the turn of the twentieth century, it was a place where everyone from the chorus girls to the beat cops was on the take and where bad boys became wicked men a place where an upstanding young policeman such as Charley Becker could becThey called it Satan s Circus a square mile of Midtown Manhattan where vice ruled, sin flourished, and depravity danced in every doorway At the turn of the twentieth century, it was a place where everyone from the chorus girls to the beat cops was on the take and where bad boys became wicked men a place where an upstanding young policeman such as Charley Becker could become the crookedest cop who ever stood behind a shield Murder was so common in the vice district that few people were surprised when the loudmouthed owner of a shabby casino was gunned down on the steps of its best hotel But when, two weeks later, an ambitious district attorney charged Becker with ordering the murder, even the denizens of Satan s Circus were surprised The handsome lieutenant was a decorated hero, the renowned leader of New York s vice busting Special Squad Was he a bad cop leading a double life, or a pawn felled by the sinister rogues who ran Manhattan s underworld With appearances by the legendary and the notorious including Big Tim Sullivan, the election rigging vice lord of Tammany Hall future president Theodore Roosevelt beloved gangster Jack Zelig and the newly famous author Stephen Crane Satan s Circus brings to life an almost forgotten Gotham Chronicling Charley Becker s rise and fall, the book tells of the raucous, gaudy, and utterly corrupt city that made him, and recounts not one but two sensational murder trials that landed him in the electric chair.From the Hardcover edition.
Recent Comments "Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century"
As I said earlier, there is just too much information in this book. Not that it isn't interesting, there's just too much of it. The title included something about the Trial of The Century but I read up to about page 127 and as far as I could tell, the trial of the century wasn't covered. (I'm assuming it wasn't the OJ Simpson trial) The book centers around a police officer named Charles Becker, but everyone from ward bosses, to police commissioners to the mayor of New York City is described at l [...]
True Crime Commemoration # 32Setting: 1890s and early 1900s New York City
I really enjoyed this but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who is looking for a "Law and Order"-type narrative. The murder doesn't happen until almost half-way through the book (and the "order" is anything but). However, I think the back story is necessary to understand the crime and the subsequent trials. I wish I'd have read this before my trip to NYC, as the history of the city was the most interesting part of the book.
The only police officer to ever be executed for crimes committed as an officer--and still debated if Charley Becker was the one ultimately responsible for the death of Herman Rosenthal. I think the author presents enough evidence to suggest that no, but Becker was certainly taking advantage of the uniform, terrorizing prostitutes in particular, to the end where he was collecting 20 times his annual take home pay in protection money, and even if he had nothing to do with the murder, the catalyst [...]
I got this for my eReader because the story of police corruption and the sentencing of a New York police officer to death row seemed interesting, but I had read some iffy reviews. Thankfully, it was really engrossing and interesting. Dash doesn't so much write a story with one plot point after another, but instead puts the pieces into place like dominoes and lets you watch it all unfold. Nobody is a saint and the devils in the story are more gray than dark. The main story is about Charley Becker [...]
This feels like the work of a good writer who was in too much of a hurry. The historical context he provides on city culture in general, and police culture specifically, in turn of the century New York is quite interesting and relevant to Dash's subject matter; the strongest part of the book is Dash's knack for conveying the integral role of corruption in every level of New York City's basic functioning. But these discussions do not feel fully integrated with the basic story Dash is telling, sof [...]
Interesting story in a time period where corruption within the NYPD was rampant. Becker the man at the centre of the story wasn't a straight cop, he's involved in making false arrests to make money and works his way up.The crime for which he is on trial for seems shaky at best and eventually seems to be a travesty of justice. Nobody in the whole mess seems to be honest except maybe Mrs Becker.However it's also a very long very dense book which have to agree with others seems over long.
It was soooo dense. Another reader put it down PERFECTLY: "if you put it down for two days, you'll come back wondering who so and so is." It was just over packed with details that seemed so irrelevant that it was hard to feel invested in the history being told. The growth of the different boroughs was really interesting to me, but other then that heart wasn't into it.
In February, 1894, Charley Becker put on the uniform of a New York City police officer. Twenty one years later, the state of New York executed him for murder. In 1894 the NYC police department was completely corrupt. The department was designed to make it impossible for a police officer to live on his salary, forcing him to accept bribes. Officers who gave trouble to their superiors were sent to outlying parts of the city where access to bribes from gamblers, pimps, and prostitutes was hard to f [...]
Charles Becker was the first police officer in the United States arrested, convicted, and executed for murder. I find it interesting that the controversy surrounding his conviction is so enduring, particularly given the state of the modern police. Becker, convicted for enlisting a crew of gangsters to kill a man who'd accused him of graft, probably could have handled his problem more directly and with less consequences. The shaky evidence, unreliable witnesses, and obvious partiality of the juri [...]
I'm a sucker for historical true crime, especially that of Gilded Age New York. That said, I enjoyed this book immensely. Despite the author giving away the ending on the first page of the introduction (really?!), I found myself thinking of alternate endings as I read. That's a testament to the writing skills. My only issue with the book was it could have used a Cast of Characters. With so many people named Lefty, Red Phil, Bridgey, Big Tim, Little Jim, and such--not to mention a cameo by two gu [...]
This book had some focus issues for me. It has TONS of insight on the New York City area known as Satan's Circus and the atmosphere surrounding it. Bottom line, corruption was everywhere and extremely common-place. However, as interesting as all this is, it makes it difficult to keep track of the many details of the case.
This is a fascinating tale describing the only instance of an NYPD officer being convicted and executed for murder in the first degree. Dash does a great job detailing the political and societal problems existing in NYC at the turn of the 20th century which led to such widespread corruption in the police department. While the focus is on Lt. Charlie Becker (convicted and sentenced to death for ordering the murder of a gambler who was going to turn state's evidence), the book is most interesting [...]
DNF at 50%. Remarkably boring for being set in such a colourful time-period.
Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century by Mike Dash does exactly what you'd expect that long title to doy to cover way too much material in one book. Er, wait, no. That's not what I expected the book to do, actually--although that's what I got. When I picked it up and read the book flap, I expected the book to tell the story of Charley Becker, a NY cop at the turn of the century (turn of last century, that is). Charley Becker was a handsome lieutenan [...]
Satan's Circus by Mike Dash is a little hard to get into. It is a complicated story and Mr. Dash uses the first hundred pages to introduce us to the characters who played a part in the trial of Officer Charles Becker of the NYPD, who in 1915 was executed for the murder of a low level gambler who was making his life difficult. Everything I have ever read on Becker pointed him to be guilty and to have received his just desserts. As Mike Dask's biography of the events and trial begin, it appears th [...]
Satan’s Circus had a cover and title that caught my eye in Border’s. They made me think about The Devil in the White City, which is a favorite book of mine. The book is also set around the same time that The Devil in the White City is set.The book is specifically about the New York City Police Officer Charley Becker’s rise, fall and eventual execution. However, it also does a great job of drawing a picture of a corrupt city and corrupt police department. It’s a dark story about an area o [...]
Satan’s Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York’s Trial of the Century by Mike Dash 449 pages★★ ½ The subtitle of this book is pretty explanatory as to what this book is about – corruption and murder. More so, it is the story about a police officer in the early 1900s by the name of Charley Becker. He would become, to date, the only officer to ever be executed for his crimes. The topic sounds interesting and it had potential. Writing a history book is such a fine line. Do [...]
This was fun. With characters like Bald Jack, Dago Frank, Gyp the Blood, Whitey Lewis and Lefty Louie how could it not be? You can't make this stuff up. One of my first thoughts was about Tammany Hall selling jobs, what's the big deal? Families have been purchasing military ranks for sons for centuries. Then the corruption just got bigger and bigger with amassed fortunes in the millions. Some interesting trivia revealed in the book, 1) the role of the New York World in the building of the Statue [...]
This is a rare example of an engrossing history with excellent research behind it. I love the fact that in the forward the author tells the reader where he got his dialogue. I often read books like this where dialogue and supposition as to motives and thoughts are trotted out with no explanation as to their origin. As a student of history and a librarian, that really irks me. I also appreciated the context. I see others reviewing this book are complaining of too much information and a slow start [...]
I am a real enthusiast of books about NYC history, and though I usually read stuff about criminals and outsiders instead of stuff about police, politicians, and insiders - this book is about the only policeman in US history to be executed for murder. Suffice to say, there's plenty about the life of crime in the late 19th and early 20th century.The first half of the book is really really great - the characters are colorful, the interactions fascinating, and I felt drawn into the action and the fa [...]
This book started out with a bang. An in-depth look at NYC where politics were venal, Tammany Hall ran the city, and the police were totally corrupt. The main character, Becker, around whom the "trial of the century" revolved is a police officer who was noted for his graft and is subsequently accused of the murder of a small time gangster who is about to blow the whistle on him. He does not become the center of the story until the middle of the book when the trial begins. That is when the book b [...]
As in Batavia's Graveyard, historian Mike Dash does a great job combining a meticulous study of facts with writing a griping story that almost reads like a thriller. This time the scenery is the New York around the beginning of the 20th century, in the center of illicit gambling and prostitution, gangsterism and wide-spread corruption in the police force.We get a fascinating tail of a policeman who went of the straight path, and got into all kinds of trouble (I won't spoil the story here). Most [...]
For anyone fascinated with the gangland happenings in NYC in the turn of nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this is as interesting as Gangs of New York, which was written about a much earlier time period. There is a bounty of compelling details revealed about famous gangsters, politicians, prostitutes, and entertainers of the period. The celebrities whom the public adored were not always ashamed to be seen living it up with some of the most corrupt people of that time. This book shows a look at [...]
I did like a lot of the detail in this book, especially some of the more "lay of the land" type descriptions of how gambling and prostitution were viewed at the turn of the century, but at times I just felt like it took a really long time to get through certain parts of the trial and retrial pieces. I just never really looked forward to reading this or got lost in it, but when I did find the time to read it, I felt like I was learning something about history and I liked the detail on the legal p [...]
I read this book because of my interest in New York City (obsession more like it). While it gives a good luck at corruption in the police force at the turn of last century, which was extensive, it would have been better if it were edited. The details are exhaustive. However, it's a pretty good detective story--who killed the petty crook who was hated by everyone. Was the convicted murderer railroaded or was he guilty?If you like mysteries as well as New York history, you might enjoy this one.
In which a man discovers that, if you try to run a protection racket from inside the police force, you'd better have the juice to deliver on both your promises and your threats, ideally with a few levels of deniability. Particularly if you decide to "protect" illegal gambling operations from your police raids. Interesting story, in an interesting era, and what's not to love about New York City as a setting. Only 2 stars ("it was okay") because, at least in the audio format, it bogged down a litt [...]
Very well researched book about police corruption in New York under Tammany Hall. It's the true story of a grafting cop who was charged with murder. The underworld of Satan's Circus comes alive in this book. One can get a feel of the low-lifes who were forced to pay up to the cops in order to run their brothels and gaming halls. This definitely has the feel of living history in the way it's portrayed in the pages.
I don't often put books down, especially books in this genre, which I describe as "historical true-crime", but I had to give up on this one. Over 100 pages in, and I was still waiting for the murder promised in the title. I want books like this to grip me from the very beginning, but there was a laborious amount of prose laying the groundwork for what was probably an extremely fascinating story.
I liked this book a lot. I see that some of the reviewers state that this is a "historical novel" which is not the case. Odd that they would mention that, and more than once. This is an interesting account of police corruption in the late 1800s and early part of the 1900s. there were also some great recommendations of further reading that I look forward to picking up. Mr. Dash did some extensive research and came across as knowing his subject very well and made it quite interesting. Good read.
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