Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York
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Stephen B. Luce Library
Tuesday, September 18th at 1330
The Stephen B. Luce Library invites you to a guest lecture on Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt’s Doomed Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York
by author and historian, Richard Zacks.
“Richard Zacks… tells the story of Roosevelt’s two-year campaign with gusto and authority and the wry observations of an author who knows how it will all predictably turn out. The reason Roosevelt’s quest was doomed, this account makes clear, is that New Yorkers — then and now — like their vices neat. Sure, they did not favor police and political corruption, but they would not stand for the abridgment of their pleasures, even if the consequence was police and Tammany Hall graft…. This well-researched narrative is dense with raffish vignettes, excerpts from Roosevelt’s tireless letters and newspaper lampoons of his righteous campaign." – New York Times
"In his delightful and often hilarious ode to Manhattan, Island of Vice, Richard Zacks makes a comparison to another famously wicked metropolis: "As in ancient Rome, the vitality of New York City sometimes seems to come more from the crooks than the do-gooders." – USA Today
“Here is young Teddy Roosevelt as the reformist New York City Police Commissioner confronted in 1895 with a cabal of unaccountably wealthy police officials, whole neighborhoods of brothels, and the paws of the Tammany Tiger in everything. A delicious municipal history, impeccably researched, excitingly told.” – E.L. Doctorow
About the Author: Richard Zacks grew up in New York City, wandering to Times Square when it was still evil. His mother sought to refine his manners with white-glove dance lessons at the Pierre Hotel but that effort failed miserably. As a teenager, he gambled on the horses, played blackjack in illegal Manhattan card parlors and bought his first drink at age fifteen at the Plaza Hotel. He also attended elite schools such as Horace Mann ('73), University of Michigan ('79) and Columbia Journalism School ('81). He majored in Classical Greek and studied Arabic, Italian and French. His whole life he has felt torn between the seedy and the high brow. He is a born contrarian. His books reflect that, with topics ranging from Joan of Arc's virginity tests to a vindication of Captain Kidd... Zacks spent the decade of the 1980s as a journalist, writing a widely syndicated newspaper column, as well as freelance pieces for the likes of The Atlantic, Sports Illustrated, and he brings a who, what, when, where and an occasional why to his writing of historical narrative. His book "Pirate Hunter" has sold more than 175,000 copies and TIME magazine chose it among the five best non-fiction books of the year. Zacks has also appeared in four documentaries. Tall, bald, spry, he still plays full court basketball at age fifty-six, and does his writing in an office, overlooking Union Square Park in Manhattan.
Please forward any questions to Library@sunymaritime.edu.