Newport: The Sin City Years (Review)

Robin Caraway, Arcadia Publishing

Oct 6, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Back in the 1980s when I was working at the Jockey Club, Newport was in a cultural and financial tailspin. Bereft of its status as a wide open mecca of entertainment and vice, yet still burdened with the sex industry, Newport looked like it was going down for the last count.

Newport has since come back in a miraculous way; nevertheless, such transformation never really assuages one's curiosity about the "bad old days," to simply know if the stories traded by Newport's old timers in the ’80s were actually true. Newport: The Sin City Years, by Kenton County Public Library local history specialist Robin Caraway, helps to answer the call. This is an entry in Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series, which provides historical profiles of American neighborhoods and cities. It's heavy on pictures and light on text.

The worst drawbacks to Newport: The Sin City Years owe to the haste in which it was prepared; there are numerous typographical errors, some photo captions are repetitive and certain photos seem to be out of chronological sequence. Still, Newport: The Sin City Years is a highly entertaining introduction to Newport's colorful figures in organized crime, such as Frank “Screw” Andrews, Pete Schmidt and Albert “Red” Masterson. It's a sordid and completely captivating account of crooked cops, dirty deals, corrupt city officials and so on.

The book does not go into great depth as to its subject, and leads to more questions than it has answers. Nevertheless, to satisfy one's basic curiosity about Newport's organized crime heritage it is wholly satisfactory. For those who need more, Newport: The Sin City Years might help to inspire others to further explore this fascinating historical topic.