Customer Reviews for

Island of Vice: Theodore Roosevelt's Quest to Clean Up Sin-Loving New York

Average Rating 4
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Any middle schooler will tell you that the history teachers who

Any middle schooler will tell you that the history teachers who got you to WANT to come to class, who enticed you to WANT to know their subject matter were the ones who wove facts into an entertaining panorama of events and characters, the ones who had you sitting on th...
Any middle schooler will tell you that the history teachers who got you to WANT to come to class, who enticed you to WANT to know their subject matter were the ones who wove facts into an entertaining panorama of events and characters, the ones who had you sitting on the edge of your seat, shivering with anticipation, dreading the bell that would end the period before you found out what happened next. What you learned in their classes is forever buried deeply in your brain, and the details are readily available in the annals of your memory.

Richard Zacks understands the drama of history, and the first part of his new book Island of Vice is exactly the kind of source that should leave you with a vivid image of his subject: Theodore Roosevelt's crusade against 19th C purveyors of vice in New York City. He starts out with pizzazz, painting a backdrop that captures the seemy essence of the old Lower East Side and encapsulating characters in situations that animate them as vibrant personalities with a stake in the city they seem to love. The supporting characters like Reverend Parkhurst, Commissioners Frederick Grant, Andrew Parker and Avery Andrews, the vari-ethnic madames and pimps who drive the city's human marketplace, the corrupt police officers, the proliferating legions of poor people screaming "please sir can I have some more?" all portend a compelling page-turner, an unforgettable history lesson.

But all too soon, the book disappoints. Or is it Teddy himself who lets us down? The TR on these pages seems only partly fleshed out and remains hidden behind his Knickerbocker Protestantism and self-righteousness. He and his fellow reformers lack empathy for the City, and their motives to heal Gotham are lodged in their own egos and political aspirations. Characters don't have to be good to be interesting and intriguing, but they need to have some complexity. If they seem truly human, they can be sympathetic, even as you hate them. But this Roosevelt -- presumably the same Roosevelt who established the National Park Service, who thoroughly explored the Americas, Africa, the Middleast, who fought for some very controversial reforms in American business practices -- emerges as a pompous, bobble-headed little tyrant whose real agenda has little to do with New York City.

Maybe the the problem is not in the book, but watching Roosevelt of Island of Vice strut and fret his hour on the mean streets of downtown Manhattan was a little like watching the Republicans vie for the 2012 election. I wanted more. I wanted to know why this conservationist, this bully adventurer would waste so much hot air and so many precious resources creating band-aids when the real bleeding emanated, as it does today, from hemmorrhagic corruption? This Roosevelt is very like sculptor Autustus St. Gaudens' naked Diana that dominated the skyline when Teddy began his work in NYC: a lifeless facsimile of a deeper psyche than the eye ca see. . . at least the eye reading these pages.

Mr. Zacks is a master of research and compilation, and the book is largely a smooth, engrossing read until you realize there's no point in turning the next page because you just don't care what happens next to this most uninteresting guy . . . .

posted by CarlaatDaptd on April 14, 2012

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Recommended

A little known piece of history brought to light. I found this well written and informative. The writer gives insight into why, despite high moral standing, these efforts seldom succeed.
While reading this I continually saw parallels with other times politicians have t...
A little known piece of history brought to light. I found this well written and informative. The writer gives insight into why, despite high moral standing, these efforts seldom succeed.
While reading this I continually saw parallels with other times politicians have tried and failed to legislate morals. Prohibition, prostitution laws,and the war on drugs are more current examples.

posted by dogbert on April 15, 2012

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 review with 1 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Slow read

    Interesting topic but a really slow ready. It simply takes Zacks too long to get into the heart of the topic, which is TR's work to clean up the city. I understand the need to provide background information, but Zacks takes 100 pages to drone on with information that could have been condensed into 40. Buy the time TR is introduced as police commissioner I was already bored.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 review with 1 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 1 of 1