The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  69 ratings  ·  8 reviews
As Times Square turns 100, New York Times Magazine contributing writer James Traub tells the story of how this mercurial district became one of the most famous and exciting places in the world. The Devil’s Playground is classic and colorful American history, from the first years of the twentieth century through the Runyonesque heyday of nightclubs and theaters in the 1920s...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 21st 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published March 16th 2004)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Devil's Playground, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Devil's Playground

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 366)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
More like 2.5 stars. The idea is fascinating: trace the history of Times Square from its humble beginnings to the giant corporate billboard that is today. I appreciated some of the earlier chapters but got bogged down with his writing style. The book just got boring the longer it went on. I did learn some useful information but think it should have been about 100 pages shorter.
What is it with folks who write for the New Yorker publishing books that claim to be stand-alone works but are, in actuality, simply a collection of the articles they've written for the New Yorker, expanded and stitched together with rough yarn?

All of that said, I enjoyed the read immensely, regardless of the patchwork feel of the thing. Traub does a nice job of presenting the history of Times Square (if a little spotty on some of the details of certain, "uninteresting" eras)

One feels nostalgic...more
I really enjoyed this book, which traces the history of Times Square from its earliest beginnings to the era of redevelopment and "Disneyfication" in the 1990s. I was surprised to find myself liking the later, more contemporary chapters, just as much if not more as those on Times Square's early days. It seemed that perhaps Traub, a reporter at the NYT, was more engaged with the later chapters, for which he could do on-the-scenes research and interviews, than with the earlier ones, which were all...more
Dianne Landry
Ah, Times Square, that wonderful, crowded, loud, gaudy centre of iniquity. The stories this place could tell! As someone who has spent many hours there (including one drunken New Year's Eve, don't ask) I can say that unfortunattely, Mr. Traub is not the man to tell them. His style is very plodding and just doesn't do one of my favourite places in the world the justice it deserves. Oh well, at least he tried.
Xander Ring
This was a very good read. A comprehensive and entertaining history of Times Square and through it a history of entertainment in America. The chapters on the glory days and decline of this area are fascinating and entertaining. I'll be in New York in a few weeks and I look forward to seeing Times Square with new eyes. ...more
I went to school in Times Sq. during the twilight of its dirty days. I miss the grit and dirt and am blinded by the lights making TSQ the playground it was never meant to be. One thing that hasn't changed is how much the tourists annoy the fuck out of me
A fast concise and fascinating history of 100 years of Times Square. Who new urban history could be so much fun.
More like 2 1/2 stars. It's a fascinating subject, but the book is just not that well written.
Lauren Schultz
Lauren Schultz marked it as to-read
Aug 26, 2014
Lynn marked it as to-read
Aug 25, 2014
Denise marked it as to-read
Aug 21, 2014
Robert marked it as to-read
Aug 19, 2014
Heather Maoury
Heather Maoury marked it as to-read
Aug 18, 2014
Ngaio marked it as to-read
Aug 17, 2014
Mirabelle marked it as to-read
Aug 15, 2014
Sarah marked it as to-read
Aug 13, 2014
Torri marked it as to-read
Aug 12, 2014
J.J. Smiley
J.J. Smiley marked it as to-read
Aug 10, 2014
Connie Moss
Connie Moss marked it as to-read
Aug 10, 2014 marked it as to-read
Aug 09, 2014
Lena marked it as to-read
Jul 26, 2014
Steven Harbin
Steven Harbin marked it as to-read
Jul 24, 2014
Louise Blais
Louise Blais marked it as to-read
Jul 23, 2014
Misha marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2014
Ian marked it as to-read
Jul 19, 2014
Leah Halkett
Leah Halkett marked it as to-read
Jul 18, 2014
Kathy Hutson
Kathy Hutson marked it as to-read
Jul 18, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 12 13 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs
  • Twilight at the World of Tomorrow : Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World's Fair on the Brink of  War
  • American Passage: The History of Ellis Island
  • The Great Depression: America 1929-1941
  • The Savage City
  • The Road to Woodstock
  • The President's House: 1800 to the Present The Secrets and History of the World's Most Famous Home
  • Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City
  • The Historical Atlas of New York City: A Visual Celebration of Nearly 400 Years of New York City's History
  • Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It
  • What's My Name, Fool?: Sports and Resistance in the United States
  • Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made
  • Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture
  • The Colossus of New York
  • Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center
  • Three by Annie Dillard: The Writing Life, An American Childhood, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
  • Travels With Charley and Later Novels 1947-1962 (Library of America #170)
  • Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage
The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power City on a Hill: Testing the American Deram at City College The Freedom Agenda: Why America Must Spread Democracy (Just Not the Way George Bush Did) Too Good to Be True: The Outrageous Stor The devils playground

Share This Book