Vice Capades: Sex, Drugs, and Bowling from the Pilgrims to the Present (Potomac Books), by Mark Stein
Jul. 11, 2017
Mark Stein unearths many quizzical facts in Vice Capades, starting with the anti-tobacco tract written by Britain’s James I. The monarch correctly warned of the dangers of smoking, 350 years before the Surgeon General got around to it, but also condemned the practice for its origins among the “beastly” American Indians. Are vices defined by the powerful and used as a tool against the powerless? So Stein asserts as he compiles an often humorous litany of practices that once were vices (bowling, card playing, juggling) but have since become habits or careers. It’s a two-way street: smoking and pinching women’s rears in the workplace were acceptable in “Mad Men” America but no longer—Stein ascribes this to science and feminism trumping big tobacco and male chauvinism. “This book does not seek to dismiss concern over vice,” he declares, but the author seems uncertain over where to draw the line.