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

Mike Dash, Author . Crown $24.95 (449p) ISBN 978-1-4000-5471-8

The sole police officer to be executed in U.S. history, NYPD lieutenant Charles Becker died in the electric chair in 1915 for the murder of a lowlife gambler who pimped his own wife. Set apart from other, mostly Irish, New York policemen by his German ancestry and "markedly intelligent," Becker bribed his way in 1894 onto a force infected by Tammany Hall and worked undercover patrolling the crime-riddled midtown Manhattan district called Satan's Circus, the city's center of entertainment and vice. Acquitted in 1896 of charges of falsely arresting a woman for prostitution, a charge testified to by novelist Stephen Crane, Becker went on to commit graft, perjury and theft, but by 1911 he headed his own vice squad and by 1912 he had built up a vast extortion racket. Gambler Herman Rosenthal, one of Becker's victims, exposed him to the media and the DA, and when Rosenthal was shot to death, Becker became the notorious prime suspect although some doubted his guilt. Peopled by mobsters and crooked cops and politicians, and chronicling the early years of the NYPD as well as Becker's ruin and comeuppance, this engrossing, well-researched history by the author of Batavia's Graveyard immerses readers in the corrupt hurly-burly that was old New York. Map. (June)

Reviewed on: 03/19/2007
Release date: 06/01/2007
Paperback - 449 pages - 978-1-84708-064-6
Paperback - 449 pages - 978-1-4000-5472-5
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-4288-6
Open Ebook - 318 pages - 978-0-307-39522-1
Downloadable Audio - 1 pages - 978-1-4159-3886-7
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