A Jazz-Age Murder That Toppled Gotham’s Mayor

The Rundown

We talk with Michael Wolraich about his book, The Bishop And The Butterfly: Murder, Politics, And The End Of The Jazz Age. Then, we re-air part of our conversation with Paul Kix about You Have To Be Prepared To Die Before You Can Begin To Live: Ten Weeks In Birmingham That Changed America.  And we read a poem by Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha, who was abducted by the IDF and brutally beaten before a global outcry resulted in his release.

Writers Voice— in depth conversation with writers of all genres, on the air since 2004.

Find us on Facebook at Writers Voice with Francesca Rheannon, on Instagram and Threads @WritersVoicePodcast or find us on X/Twitter @WritersVoice. Read transcripts at the Writer’s Voice Substack.

Key Words: Michael Wolraich, Jazz Age, history, writers voice, podcast, book recommendations, author interview, book podcast, book show, book excerpt, creative nonfiction, poetry, Black History Month

Gotham’s Golden Age of Corruption

New York City has a long history of corruption. Some are calling the current era of financial capitalism the Golden Age of Corruption, and, with New York being the pre-eminent global capital of financial capital, there’s plenty of fraud, grift and graft going around in the present day. 

But the Golden Age of Corruption in New York was the century that Tammany Hall sat at the center of the city’s governance, spreading its tentacles into every nook and cranny, from the beat cop on the street all the way up the mayor and beyond to the New York State legislature. And the Jazz Age of the 1920’s was, if not the height of corruption, certainly one of its major peaks.

The Bishop and The Butterfly

In his book, The Bishop and The Butterfly, Michael Wolraich tells the riveting story of how the 1931 murder of con artist and high class prostitute Vivian Gordon brought about the downfall of New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker, and led to the end of Tammany Hall’s dominance.

Michael Wolraich’s writing has appeared at Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, New York Magazine, CNN.com, Reuters, and Talking Points Memo. In addition to The Bishop and the Butterfly, he’s the author of Unreasonable Men, and Blowing Smoke.

Black History Month: The Battle of Birmingham

In August of last year, we spoke with Paul Kix about his riveting chronicle of the fight to end Jim Crow, led by the greatest figures of the Civil Rights Movement—and won by children. The book is  You Have To Be Prepared To Die Before You Can Begin To Live: Ten Weeks In Birmingham That Changed America.

We air an extended excerpt from that interview, but you can hear the entire conversation here.

Mosab Abu Toha’s poem, “My Grandfather Was A Terrorist”

As of February 14, 2024, more than 28,000 Gazans have been killed and between a quarter and half of those still alive face starvation.

The celebrated Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha was abducted by the Israeli Defense Forces and brutally beaten before a global outcry resulted in his release. He was hospitalized due to his injuries and, after recovering sufficiently to leave the hospital, escaped with his family to Egypt.

His most recent poetry volume, Things You May Find Hidden In My Ear, was released in 2022 and won the American Book Award, the Palestine Book Award and Arrowsmith Press’s 2023 Derek Walcott Poetry Prize. We read a poem from the book, “My Grandfather Was A Terrorist.”