Satan's Circus | Granta

  • Published: 01/01/2009
  • ISBN: 9781847080646
  • 129x20mm
  • 464 pages

Satan’s Circus

Mike Dash

Mike Dash is a master of atmospheric and entertaining historical narrative. In Satan’s Circus he vividly opens up the world of twentieth-century New York, telling the gripping story of police officer Charley Becker’s rise and fall and of the sensational murder trials that led to his gruesome death in the electric chair. With a cast of colourful characters, from Big Tim Sullivan, the election-rigging vice lord, to future President Theodore Roosevelt and beloved gangster Jack Zelig, Satan’s Circus brings to life an almost forgotten Gotham – a raucous, gaudy and utterly corrupt city.

Book of the week ... With an eye for crime-world factoids and period detail, Dash introduces us to prostitutes and underbelly dwellers with monikers like "Kid Twist" ... [P]eople looking for a walk on the grimy side of prewar New York are in for a treat

Time Out New York

If the story that Mike Dash tells in Satan's Circus sometimes seems like a chapter from Gangs of New York, that's because it is ... This is a true-crime thriller - but it is also a portrait of the end of an era

The Telegraph

Satan's Circus is a thrilling, atmospheric story peopled with outlandish characters, but it also conveys a profound understanding of how New York's criminals, policemen and politicians conspired on a systematic basis

Sunday Express

The Author

Mike Dash is the author of several books, including the best-sellers Tulipomania, Batavia’s Graveyard, Thug and The Family First. Satan’s Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption and New York’s Trial of the Century was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for History. A Cambridge-educated historian, Dash lives in London.

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From the Same Author


Mike Dash

Never in recorded history has there been a group of murderers as deadly as the Thugs. For nearly two centuries, groups of these lethal criminals haunted the roads of India, slaughtering travellers whom they met along the way with such efficiency that over the years tens of thousands of men, women and children simply vanished without trace. Mike Dash, one of our best popular historians, has devoted years to combing archives in both India and Britain to discover how the Thugs lived and worked. Painstakingly researched and grippingly written, Thug tells, for the first time the full story of the Thugs’ rise and fall from the cult’s beginnings in the late seventeenth century to its eventual demise at the hands of British East India Company officer William Sleeman in 1840.