Amazon selected ISLAND OF VICE as one of the Top 100 books of 2012; it also selected it as one of the Top Ten history books of the year. I purchased three editions: hardback, audible, and kindle; listened to the audio edition (15 hours, 28 minutes), reread much of the kindle edition and hardback.
From an amateur historian viewpoint–and my fascination with all things late 19th century–this nonfiction title deserves five stars. I learned so very much from every chapter, found myself so ever much better informed about the 1890’s in politics, the Reform Movement (Progressive Era). Review contains two pages of images from the hardback and kindle editions.
A parade through historical newspapers taking a look at the wild and colorful history of one Charles H. Rowan, proprietor of a matrimonial agency in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the late 1890’s. He was accused, arrested, tried, found not-guilty, allegedly bribed government officials, retried–and the story doesn’t end there.
A murderer finds his victims through a matrimonial bureau; and two wealthy (and married) women entrap unsuspecting swains into expensive courtships, engagements, marriage– or close enough– broken hearts and shattered illusions.
Part 5: Chicago’s 100 Matrimonial Agencies–all shut down by one Police Detective, Clifton Wooldridge.
ONE HUNDRED FALSE Matrimonial Agencies in Chicago at the Turn of the Century?
Note the two new crime method additions (as addressed in my series of Nineteenth Century Mail-Order Bride SCAMS, Parts 1-5 so far): stock matrimonial letters and stock matrimonial photographs– more than one million, each.
I believe FACT is stranger than FICTION.
And often the BEST fiction is solidly founded in FACT. Hence my keen interest in the truth of Matrimonial Agencies, Matrimonial Personal Advertisements, and real-life stories of couples connected through the mail in the nineteenth Century.