Monday, April 30, 2012

ISLAND OF VICE by Richard Zacks (Sex, Booze, and Roosevelt)

ISLAND OF VICE by Richard Zacks is the story of Teddy Roosevelt's early days as police commissioner of New York, attempting to clean up vice.  Not only were his efforts ultimately futile, but New Yorkers wearied of him, even as he tried to keep workers from drinking beer on Sunday, which was their only day to relax (while Roosevelt drank in private clubs.)  Like a kind of George Bush of the mid 1890s, Roosevelt was simple minded yet headstrong and driven, with a corrupt police force that resisted reform and yet were forced to respect the new policies.  Narrated by Joe Ochman, the audiobook exposes the underbelly of a society which had not yet encountered a Walt Disney, and didn't want to.  The book sheds new light on Roosevelt's personality, even as it reveals how people on the street actually lived.  Soon to come were the gangsters, which is usually the case (as in Italy) whenever graft and cronyism blurs the lines between opposing sides.

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