Format Hardcover
Publication Date 05/01/18
ISBN 9781681777467
Trim Size / Pages 9 x 6 in / 336

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Saving Sin City

William Travers Jerome, Stanford White, and the Original Crime of the Century

Mary Cummings

An operatic story of jealousy, obsession, vast fortunes, and moral crusaders set against the glittering backdrop of Gilded Age New York City.

The murder of one of the most famous architects of the era, Stanford White—whose mark on New York City is second to none—became “The Crime of the Century.” His murder by Harry K. Thaw in 1906 has become an indelible part of popular culture through books like E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime and films like The Girl on the Red Velvet Swing. But there were other players in this sordid love triangle gone wrong that would play a part in the incredible acquittal of White’s murderer, namely the ambitious district attorney William Travers Jerome, who wrecked his career on the rocks of his failed prosecution of Thaw.  Award-winning journalist Mary Cummings reveals a new angle to this incredible crime through Jerome’s story, a story that is ripe for our post-Serial era. Thaw was the debauched and slightly deranged heir to a Pittsburgh fortune.  White was an artistic genius and one of the world’s premier architects—and nearly as wealthy as Thaw—who would become obsessed with a sixteen-year-old chorus girl, Evelyn Nesbit.  White preyed on Nesbit, who, in a surprising twist, also caught the attention of Thaw.  Nesbit and Thaw would later marry, and the revelation of White's past behavior towards Nesbit would explosively culiminate in White’s shocking murder—and the even more shocking acquittal of Thaw for a murder that was committed in front of dozens of eye witnesses. Where did the young D.A. go wrong? What were the issues simmering below the surface of New York that lead to Thaw's acquittal? Filled with mesmerizing drama, rich period details, and fascinating characters, Saving Sin City sheds fresh light on crimes whose impact still echoes throughout the 21st century.

Mary Cummings is a writer and historian. She has been awarded by the New York Press Association for her obituary of Joseph Heller and a “Best In-Depth Reporting” Award for “Troubled Waters,” a series on Long Island’s threatened groundwater supply. She has written for The New York Times, Newsday, Time Out New York, and more, and was the arts editor and principal feature writer at The Southampton Press.  She is a graduate of Smith College with a master’s degree from Stony Brook University. She lives in Southampton, New York.

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