A well-researched and chilling account of New York City's infamous Blackwell Island (now known as Roosevelt Island). Blackwell Island was a 2-mile island in the East River where 19th century New York once housed vagrants, petty criminals, and the poor and mentally ill. Built with noble intentions but ending as a dismal abomination, the conditions quickly became horrific. Rehabilitation and treatment were non-existent, and disease, starvation, and mistreatment were rampant. The inmates were, literally, running the asylum. Stacy Horn's fascinating narrative spotlights how we have treated the poor and disabled in the past, how far we've come, and how much work still lies ahead.

Recommended by Leah Staab

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