Today it is known as Roosevelt Island. In 1828, when New York City purchased this narrow, two-mile-long island in the East River, it was called Blackwells Island. There, over the next hundred years, the city would send its insane, indigent, sick, and criminal. Told through the gripping voices of Blackwells inhabitants, as well as the periods city officials, reformers, and journalists (including the famous Nellie Bly), Stacy Horn has crafted a compelling and chilling narrative. Damnation Island recreates what daily life was like on the island, what politics shaped it, and what constituted charity and therapy in the nineteenth century. Throughout the book, we return to the extraordinary Blackwells missionary Reverend French, champion of the forgotten, as he ministers to these inmates, battles the bureaucratic mazes of the Corrections Department and a corrupt City Hall, testifies at salacious trials, and in his diary wonders about mans inhumanity to man. For history fans, and for anyone interested in the ways we care for the least fortunate among us, Damnation Island is an eye-opening look at a closed and secretive world. With a tale that is exceedingly relevant today, Horn shows us how far weve comeand how much work still remains....
|Title||:||Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, & Criminal in 19th-Century New York|
|Number of Pages||:||284 pages|
|Url Type||:||Home » Damnation » Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, & Criminal in 19th-Century New York|
Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, & Criminal in 19th-Century New York Reviews
To my surprise, this is the second of Horn's books that I finished reading. Didn't realize until later that she also authored The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad , another history/true crime book that I previously read.
Though the topics are different between the two books, I think The Restless Sleep is a more engaging read because Horn incorporates herself into the book by interviewing related parties, whereas Damnation Island edges towards a scholarly retelling told thro ...more
A quick read on the history of a piece of NYC that no longer serves its original purpose.
And an honest view of the impacts of good intentions that aren't matched by actions.
An alarming, heartbreaking history of the handling of poor, ill, convicts, vagrants, and child criminals in NY City starting in the mid 19th century. Several locations are documented, with the focus mainly on the place known today as Roosevelt Island.
As a native New Yorker who held only the mildest curiosity about the tram sliding back and forth above the East River and seeing road and train signs to Roosevelt Island, I'd only ever heard vague whispers of that place's dismal past. Well, the bli ...more
Horrifying. A sad reminder of how we treated the mentally ill, elderly, and poor. And really, how they are still treated.
Extremely interesting of NY and Blackwell Island and a reflection of what was happening all over the country at that time. The author has so much work in this book. Well done
A sad at times heartbreaking revealing look at how we treated the mentally ill first locking them up in horrible conditions then throwing them out on to the streets.A harrowing look at a horrible time in our history.All students of history should read this,
I was riveted by this horrific history of Blackwell’s Island. The book was not written in a narrative format, but I found it easy to follow and it held my interest. It is interesting to see the parallels between nineteenth century and present day criminal punishment and reform and the impact that politics plays in impeding progress.
Book received from NetGalley.
Review to come.