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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Vanishing Point: The Disappearance of Judge Crater and the New York He Left Behind » User review

As much a history of "Tammany Hall" as a mystery.

  • Dec 11, 2008
  • by
Author Richard Tofel never claims to have all of the answers.  But the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of New York Supreme Court Justice Joseph Crater in August 1930 certainly makes for fascinating reading.  It is a curious tale, particularly given the strange reaction of not only his friends and associates, but also of his wife Stella.  Yet there is much more to this book than merely the unsolved disappearance of a single individual.

"Vanishing Point: The Disappearance of Judge Crater and the New York He Left Behind" " is yet another book chronicling the cast of charactors and the inner workings of New York's legendary political machine known as Tammany Hall.  And as I have found in many of these books it can become a bit difficult to follow given the large number of officials involved and the sordid and crooked relationships they participated in.  When a vacancy occured on the New York Supreme Court in the Spring of 1930 Joseph Crater, a man no one expected to get the nod, was tapped by then Governor Franklin Roosevelt for the seat.  Why was he selected?   Who recommnded him?  And is it possible that Joseph Crater literally bought his way on to the New York Supreme Court? Why did he suddenly disappear without a trace in the summer of 1930 and just what became of him? Did he leave the country?  Was he murdered?  Who might have been involved?  So many questions.  Based on a substantial body of available evidence "Vanishing Point" considers a number of intriguing possibilities.  And although this case was never solved, Tofel does make a very convincing argument that the disappearance of Judge Crater set into motion a series of events that would ultimately spell the end of machine politics in New York City.

Exactly what happened to Judge Crater will probably never be known.  Nevertheless I found "Vanishing Point:  The Disappearance of Judge Crater and the New York He Left Behind"  to be time well spent and a pretty good read.   Recommended.

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Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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About this book


The sudden disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater nearly 75 years ago led to perhaps the most famous missing persons case of the twentieth century. Crater, a justice of New York's state Supreme Court, vanished amid political scandal. Within days, questions arose about Judge Crater's finances and his liaisons with numerous women. A public frenzy about what happened to Crater provided impetus for scrutiny of New York's Tammany Hall political machine—and ultimately for the vanishing of Tammany Hall as well. The cast of characters in this book—the first-ever serious look at the Crater case—includes Franklin D. Roosevelt, the governor who named Crater to the bench; Senator Robert Wagner, Crater's mentor, but also the leader with the most to lose from having Crater found; Al Smith, Tammany's ebbing leader and failed presidential candidate; Jimmy Walker, the rogue Mayor of New York City and the darling of Tammany Hall; and Fiorello La Guardia, the crusading reformer who finally came to power on the back of the scandals. Richard J. Tofel's Vanishing Point is a revealing look at New York as the Jazz Age gave way to the Depression, and at one of the most intriguing stories in the annals of urban America.

About the Author
Richard J. Tofel is president and chief operating officer of the new International Freedom Center, a museum of freedom and a cultural center to be built at the site of the World Trade Center. Formerly assistant publisher of the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Tofel is ...

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ISBN-10: 1566636051
ISBN-13: 978-1566636056
Author: Richard j. Tofel
Genre: Nonfiction, History & Nonfiction
Publisher: Ivan R. Dee
Date Published: October 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
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