Satan's Circus by Mike Dash
Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century

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Synopsis

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 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.
 

About Mike Dash

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Mike Dash is the author of the national bestseller Tulipomania. A journalist and Cambridge-educated historian, he lives in London.From the Hardcover edition.
 
Published June 12, 2007 by Crown. 466 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Satan's Circus

Kirkus Reviews

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(For instance, the fact that assistant police commissioner Winfield Sheehan later went to Hollywood and discovered Rita Hayworth and John Wayne.) The author’s chief problem lies in the character of his protagonist, corrupt police lieutenant Charley Becker.

Jun 12 2007 | Read Full Review of Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice,...

The New York Times

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Lt. Charley Becker was a corrupt New York cop — but corrupt enough to kill?

Sep 09 2007 | Read Full Review of Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice,...

The Guardian

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Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption and New York's Trial of the Century by Mike Dash Granta £18.99, pp449 It might have seemed like just another Manhattan murder, one more victim of criminal infighting.

Jan 06 2008 | Read Full Review of Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice,...

The Guardian

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Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption and New York's Trial of the Century by Mike Dash 464pp, Granta, £18.99 Welcome to the Tenderloin, a square mile of midtown Manhattan so notorious for its gambling houses, late-night saloons and bordellos that it became known as "Satan's Circus".

Apr 05 2008 | Read Full Review of Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice,...

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