By the turn of the twentieth century, Beaumont, Texas had acquired a reputation as a rough place. Situated in the oil-soaked chaos of Spindletop, Jefferson County was a hotbed of vice. For decades, gambling and prostitution thrived as elected officials either looked the other way or took money to keep quiet. That is, until 1960 when a swashbuckling young state legislator bBy the turn of the twentieth century, Beaumont, Texas had acquired a reputation as a rough place. Situated in the oil-soaked chaos of Spindletop, Jefferson County was a hotbed of vice. For decades, gambling and prostitution thrived as elected officials either looked the other way or took money to keep quiet. That is, until 1960 when a swashbuckling young state legislator blew into town and spearheaded an intensive investigation into the rampant vice and governmental corruption that supported it. And, at a time when such things were virtually unheard of, he and his committee played it out on live television. When the dust finally cleared, the local governments of Jefferson County were turned inside out....
|Title||:||Betting Booze and Brothels|
|Number of Pages||:||250 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Betting Booze and Brothels Reviews
This book, an account by local historians of the various vice activities in Jefferson County during the years leading up to the James Commission and its subsequent reforms, was a pleasant surprise. I received it as a gift from a family member who still lives in Jefferson County, and I really only started to read it when I ran out of unread books on my shelf. From the unimpressive publishing quality (it's certainly not bad, but the book has the physical feel of a self-published or university press kind of publication, rather than a more carefully assembled volume by a major publisher) and the overly whimsical swirly font on the cover and chapter headings, I expected a vapid gossip column. Certainly, there are silly aspects of the book, like when Landrey takes a tour of the remains of the Dixie Hotel and shares breathless observations of the most notable architectural features, but most of the book is solid historical research, organized in a generally chronological way (with the exception of a one-chapter detour into Port Arthur's history of vice that adds a great deal to the central narrative) and with extensive footnotes.Landrey has managed to arrange and record interviews with a praiseworthy variety of sources, from men who were drawn to Beaumont's brothels as teenagers to police officers who found themselves constrained by official corruption. Additionally, she presents court documents and photographs to further develop the picture of what role the "red light district" played in the town. The authors do a marvelous job of presenting various viewpoints, including local officials who insisted that having a controlled area for vice prevented wandering sailors from endangering local women, politicians from other counties who risked their careers to pursue law enforcement, and community activists who invited women for coffee as part of a campaign to elect officials free from corruption. The madams are portrayed as generally likable women, despite the nature of their careers, and even the most corrupt of the Jefferson County officials receive praise for their personal charm. It is difficult to present the history of a clearly moral issue without subtly condemning at least one viewpoint, but the authors succeed in this book, and they craft a charming and professional scholarly text about a colorful aspect of Texas history. I recommend this for anyone with a tie to Jefferson County, even snobs like me who have judged the book by its cover.
I very much enjoyed this history of how the partnership between law enforcement and criminals met its downfall in the early 60's in the Beaumont, Texas area where I grew up. I had no idea of this whole event which was a national scandal in 1960. It's hard to believe much of this story, except that it was on the front page of the newspapers and on the local television stations. And yet, I would guess 99% of the people under 50 living there today have any knowledge of it. The book is a mix of research and anecdotal recollections by the people involved and their acquaintances. The tales told by witnesses make up the best parts of the book, especially the stories about the well-known madames of the brothels.