About this item

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.



About the Author

Mike Dash

Mike Dash, the author of Tulipomania, Batavia's Graveyard, Thug, Satan's Circus and now The First Family, was born, in 1963, just outside London, and educated at Gatow School, Berlin, Wells Cathedral School, Somerset, and Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he read history and ran the Cambridge student magazine. From there he moved on to King's College, London, where in 1990 he completed an unusually obscure PhD thesis describing British submarine policy between the Crimean and the First World Wars.

Dash's first job, for which he was thoroughly unqualified, was compiling about a quarter of the entries for Harrap's Dictionary of Business and Finance (1988) , a volume that he researched via clandestine meetings in a London Spud-U-Like with a college friend who had gone into banking. From there, he began a six-year career in journalism book-ended by stints as a gossip columnist for Fashion Weekly and a section editor at UK Press Gazette, the journalists' newspaper.

While still at UKPG, Dash took a phone call from John Brown, the maverick publisher of Viz, who asked him to suggest the names of some possible magazine publishers with an editorial background and some knowledge of the newstrade, Unsurprisingly nominating himself, Dash found himself hired to take over the eccentric portfolio of Viz Comic and Gardens Illustrated.

Dash's first book, The Limit (1995) , was published by BBC Books and his second, Borderlands (1997) by Heinemann. He has since written five works of historical non fiction, all of them acclaimed for combining detailed original research with a compelling narrative style.

Having written his first three books while still with John Brown Publishing, Dash has been a full-time writer since 2001. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

'History doesn't get much more readable.'
New York Daily News

'Dash writes with unabashedly cinematic flair, backed by meticulous research.'
New York Times

'Dash captures the reader with narrative based on dogged research, more richly evocative of character and place than any fiction, and so well written he is impossible to put down.'
The Australian

'An indefatigable researcher with a prodigious descriptive flair.'
Sunday Telegraph

'Dash writes the best kind of history: detailed, imaginative storytelling founded on vast knowledge.'
Minneapolis Star-Tribune



Read Next Recommendation

Discuss with your friends


Report incorrect product information.