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Richard Zacks & Richard Francis

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Sunday, June 24, 2012 - 9:00pm

In the 1890s New York City was truly a “Sin City”. Illegal gambling was rampant. Countless bars and taverns guaranteed spectacular alcohol consumption even on Sundays when the bars were supposed to be closed. It was estimated that there were minimally 30, 000 prostitutes active in the metropolis at the time, and shocking live sex shows could be found any night in certain sections of the city. So where were the city’s police force? The police were part of the city’s Tammany Hall political machine and were astonishingly corrupt and on the take. Then came the infamous muckracking Lexow Committee and an election that swept many of the corrupt politicians out. Future President and anti-vice crusader Teddy Roosevelt was brought on as Police Commissioner. But were the rank and file New Yorkers ready to give up their vices like drinking on Sunday? Tune in tonight when Inquiry talks to writer RICHARD ZACKS about his rollicking history ISLAND OF VICE: THEODORE ROOSEVELT’S DOOMED QUEST TO CLEAN UP SIN LOVING NEW YORK.

In the mid 1800s, a number of Americans formed unique communes to live separate form the rest of society and aspire to a more spiritual life. None of these experiments in living were as unique or as destined for failure as the Fruitlands in Harvard, Massachusetts. Founded by Bronson Alcott, father of Louisa May, the Fruitlanders had very strict beliefs about diet, sex and what you could wear. But their tight little group nestled in the hinterlands could not avoid internal turmoil and conflict that would eventually tear their idyllic group life apart. This is a gripping story of lofty spiritual ideals chaffing against earth bound human emotions. Tonight on Inquiry, we speak with RICHARD FRANCIS, Research Fellow at Harvard, he has taught American Studies on both sides of the Atlantic. His fascinating new history is titled FRUITLANDS: THE ALCOTT FAMILY AND THEIR SEARCH FOR UTOPIA.

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