The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Michael Wolraich's picture


    Hello dagbloggers! Anyone still here? (I mean, besides artappraiser and PeraclesPlease, bless you both.)

    If you have visited dag lately, you might have noticed some new marketing material in the margins. Yes, I have exploited my power as the last remaining founder of dagblog to shamelessly plug my new nonfiction book, The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz, coming to a bookstore near you on February 6!

    The book recounts the 1931 murder of a prostitute and blackmailer named Vivian Gordon in the Bronx. The sensational homicide case induced Governor Franklin Roosevelt to expand a state investigation into corruption in New York City. Led by Judge Samuel Seabury, the investigation ultimately forced Mayor Jimmy Walker to resign and precipitated the downfall of Tammany Hall.

    Those of you who have followed my writing career know that it has been a while since I published a book, almost nine years in fact. The pace of my writing was hampered by a baby (nearly 8 years old now) and a pandemic, but the primary obstacle was the publishing industry. My previous books sold around 4,000 copies each, which seemed like a lot to me, but editors weren't impressed by my "track." I wrote and shopped around three book proposals before finding a publisher for the fourth, recorded here for posterity:

    • Lincoln's Banker: How Jay Cooke Conquered Wall Street and Beat the Confederacy
    • We the Cowards: How Americans Lost Their Nerve
    • Hunting Heisenberg: Inside the Secret Mission to Stop the Nazi Bomb

    I received offers for a couple of them, but they were very small offers from very small publishers. I didn't take them, not because of the money, but because I feared that I'd sell even fewer books and then have even more trouble selling my next proposal. There's nothing wrong with small publishers, but they don't invest in marketing or publicity, and the media gatekeepers tend to ignore them, which makes it very difficult to sell books unless you're not a self-promoting genius, which I am not. (FTR, the big publishers don't invest much in marketing these days either, but if your book gains some traction, they have the resources to back it.)

    The publisher who bought my fourth proposal, Union Square & Co., is also small but a bit bigger than the others, and it's owned by Barnes & Noble. That doesn't seem to have made much difference though. As far as I can tell, Union Square & Co. is completely siloed from the bookseller, and the marketing/publicity support, thus far, has been skeletal. When speaking with independent publicists, one of which I hired, I was warned that it would be difficult to get reviews/press since the publisher isn't well-known.

    Nonetheless, I'm delighted to say that the early response to The Bishop and the Butterfly has been outstanding. The book received a stunning starred review from Publishers Weekly that compared it to Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (which has sold millions of copies). PW reviews a lot of books, but a starred review is a huge honor. Then the Chicago Review of Books included it in their list of Most Anticipated Books of 2024. The book has also received some stellar blurbs from prizewinning/bestselling authors, some whom didn't know me at all when they agreed to read the book. You can see the full list on my website,

    There is even bigger news in the pipeline, but I'm afraid that I can't disclose it yet. Keep an eye on the book reviews, and wish me the best! I plan to post an update here when the book comes out. I'll also be doing some events in NYC, one in the Boston area, and possibly a few others, which I'll post about. For more regular updates, you can follow me on Threads, Facebook, Bluesky, or (sigh) the app formerly known as Twitter.

    Finally, if you have any interest in narrative nonfiction, history, or true crime, or if you know anyone who does, or if you just like me a little bit, please pre-order a copy Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Books-A-Million, Bookshop or any other seller.

    I miss you all!



    I was holding off from being the 1st comment, but "no one else here, you talking to me?" and now that it's hit the news, I can reveal we've dug a system of tunnels under Dagblog for what purpose we're still not sure, but since everyone else is doing it we wanted to keep up. O,k, Royal we - I did it - sue me  (quasi historical pseudo-ficzion - hoping for a special category at Amazon called "Unbelievable")

    Yes, waiting for the big drop, Michael, and whatever unrevealed news goes along with it (assuming no new fathering exploits, as Doc Cleveland disappeared from sight/swallowed up after his gander into the dark side of late stage paternity)

    Fingers crossed, or in some countries, thumbs pressed.

    I respect your discretion. Alas, I'm not sure that anyone is even here besides you and artappraiser, but I was hoping some old-timers might get this on their feed and pop in. I'm connected with a few on the social networks. Ftr, I'm mostly active on Threads these days. I can't abide Musk's depredations and by the time I got invited to BlueSky, I didn't have the energy to build yet another network.

    Yeah, for me Twitter's been insane the past year - AA has a better footing.

    Haven't much checked out alternatives, was waiting for a winner. Plus think Threads has some issues in the EU (GDapR?)

    PS - corrected "big drip" to "big drop" - oops, that didn't sound nice

    Sounds very exciting Michael. All the best.

    Thank you, Bruce! So nice to hear from you.

    Thanks Michael, sorry I'm unable to make it to any of your events, but I'll be sure to buy your book! All the best.

    Good luck, Michael!

    Hi Bruce, long time no see! Glad to know you're still alive!

    Peracles: mho, you can't seem to let go of being tempted to argue with stoopid people on Twitter, that's you're problem in a nutshell therelaugh

    Thank you, AA! And thanks for keeping the flame alive here!

    PS Twitter reminds me of TPM Cafe

    Food fight around Woodrow Wilson. coming soon -

    a place for you to weigh in?

    No THANK YOU for keeping a website running while I abused it for my own needs, which still works not only with my ancient Windows 7 but AMAZINGLY even Internet Explorer laugh

    I've taken to using opera the past 2 years or so,, since the others seem to require a functional https, but yes, keeps on ticking.

    Well, not that many smart debaters to talk to, even in real life circles, and slapping mice around is my version of calisthenics.

    People get a few disinfo factoids and they'll never let go, insta-expert, it's scary how deep it all is vs 10-20 years ago.

    But I'm learning to Block so it doesn't go on too long, tho some of the threads get friends of friends of friends, so harder to stanch. Maybe will be better when the Bots take over & we can go back to whatever we used to do.

    (Michael's smart - he picks areas of history that people haven't a clue about - more importantly, not even an opinion, which is rarer and rarer - so he owns the playing field. Now if he can only self-promote like Seth Abramson...)

    Hey AA, yes thank heavens I'm still alive, and kicking. :) Hopefully, all is well with you too. I seem to be able to access the site better than in a long time, so perhaps we'll chat again. All the best!

    I will be checking back here from time to time but won't be posting much news here anymore, have decided to just tweet it directly now from


    And as I don't have any serious followers, but have many good "followees" I dont get into arguments with idiots.I comment when I feel like it, mostly on quote tweets (where the orginal tweeter is more likely to check out what I said) , and will (rarely) enter smart conversations in replies. Because I am mostly posting and following very smart people that I compiled over a very long time, I do have good stuff there if you are interested, check it out (let me be clear tho: I don't really care if anyone follows or not, you can just type me into 'search' for my feed rather than follow the account.). Lately of course theres a lot on IP; I think I have found a bunch of smart analysts on that, ones who don't get carried away with personal vendettas about debating idiots, so followers don't either.
    I also have another account for art-related news and conversation with 1,134 followers and I follow 1,800 mostly professional 'artsy' people. Since that one is using my real name, though, I am loathe to give it out publicly here but will gladly give it out to anyone who asks by leaving a DM at the above. (I have both Michael's as contacts on that, as well as a few others from here. Peracles and Wolraich know both accounts)

    Et tu, Arti?  Good for ya, have a blast.

    You always meant something to me, so thank you.

    Probably late to pump up the 1st week stats, but finally got around to it - now it'll be "getting off Twitter long enough to read something intelligent"


    So there you are!  What the hell happened to you?  All these years spent wondering, sobbing in my hands.  My, my, not a happy place at all. And yet ... it seems you're here again. Giving yourself again, though likely short-term.  Yeah for you, Michael.  And, I suppose, yeah for Peracles and artappraiser. 

    I'm curious why you posted here, other than nostalgia.  I'm curious why you keep the space running.

    I'm curious why I can't completely leave.


    Hi barefooted! I've been around, had a kid, wrote a book, grown older, life. You?

    I posted here to announce the new book to whomever still wanders in.

    I keep the space running because a few folks still use it, because I figure some traffic heads routes to my personal website, because of momentum, but mainly because I don't have the heart to shut it down.

    Honestly, I'd like to convert the content to static web pages. This site is too old and too vulnerable to attack, and it costs too much to keep hosting. People wouldn't be able to comment on static pages, but at least the content wouldn't disappear. I haven't figured out how to do that yet though.


    Supreman's ice caves.
    Preserve the disease for several millennia til there's a cure.

    I found your book at the bookstore a few days ago. Congratulations on it being published. I am looking forward to reading it. I see that dag has changed. I always came back to read and lurk around several times a year. I always enjoyed Richard Day and his last blog made me very sad. The winds of politics changed for me, so I really no longer fit in at dag, but enjoyed seeing who was still here arguing over details. I read Ramona at her Sub stack blog when I get a email letting me know she has published a new piece. She is such a beautiful writer. I hope I can live a full life like she has. I am still on Facebook and fallow many of the old freinds from here. I mostly lurk there also. I have two grandkids in college and the youngest is still in high school. Enjoy your daughter while she is still young, before you know it she will be a yound adult. Congratulations on getting another book published and thank you for the letting me write here.

    Thank you, momoe! It's lovely to hear from you. Best of luck to you and you grandkids!

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