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The sole police officer to be executed in U.S. history, NYPD lieutenant Charles Becker died in the electric chair in 1915 for the murder of a lowlife gambler who pimped his own wife. Set apart from other, mostly Irish, New York policemen by his German ancestry and "markedly intelligent," Becker bribed his way in 1894 onto a force infected by Tammany Hall and worked undercover patrolling the crime-riddled midtown Manhattan district called Satan's Circus, the city's center of entertainment and vice. Acquitted in 1896 of charges of falsely arresting a woman for prostitution, a charge testified to by novelist Stephen Crane, Becker went on to commit graft, perjury and theft, but by 1911 he headed his own vice squad and by 1912 he had built up a vast extortion racket. Gambler Herman Rosenthal, one of Becker's victims, exposed him to the media and the DA, and when Rosenthal was shot to death, Becker became the notorious prime suspect although some doubted his guilt. Peopled by mobsters and crooked cops and politicians, and chronicling the early years of the NYPD as well as Becker's ruin and comeuppance, this engrossing, well-researched history by the author ofBatavia's Graveyardimmerses readers in the corrupt hurly-burly that was old New York. Map.(June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.--This text refers to theHardcoveredition.
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ISBN-10:  1400054729
ISBN-13:  978-1400054725
Author:  Mike Dash
Genre:  History
Publisher:  Three Rivers Press
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review by . June 28, 2010
In this book the reader is introduced to the seamy side of New York City life at the turn of the 20th century, and how the police force at that time was intimately connected with the many types of vice in the city. There were payoffs and rigged arrests, and also murders, for this was serious business to those folks.    The book eventually concerns itself with a police lieutenant named Charlie Becker, who is accused of murder (the author doesn't believe he was involved) and after …
Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption,
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