In the 1890s, young cocksure Theodore Roosevelt, years before the White House, was appointed police commissioner of corrupt, pleasure-loving New York, then teeming with 40,000 prostitutes, illegal casinos and all-night dance halls. The Harvard-educated Roosevelt, with a reformer s zeal, tried to wipe out the city s vice and corruption. He went head-to-head with Tammany Hall, took midnight rambles looking for derelict cops, banned barroom drinking on Sundays and tried to convince 2 million New Yorkers to enjoy wholesome family fun.
The city rebelled big time; cartoonists lampooned him on the front page; his own political party abandoned him but Roosevelt never backed down. "Island of Vice" delivers a rollicking narrative history of Roosevelt s embattled tenure, pitting the seedy against the saintly, and the city against its would-be savior."