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American Rose

A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee

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CD Audio published by Random House Audio (Random House Audio Publishing Group)

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

America was flying high in the Roaring Twenties. Then, almost overnight, the Great Depression brought it crashing down. When the dust settled, people were primed for a star who could distract them from reality. Enter Gypsy Rose Lee, a strutting, bawdy, erudite stripper who possessed a gift for delivering exactly what America needed. With her superb narrative skills and eye for detail, Karen Abbott brings to life an era of ambition, glamour, struggle, and survival. Using exclusive interviews and never-before-published material, she vividly delves into Gypsy’s world, including her intense triangle relationship with her sister, actress June Havoc, and their formidable mother, Rose, a petite but ferocious woman who literally killed to get her daughters on the stage. Weaving in the compelling saga of the Minskys—four scrappy brothers from New York City who would pave the way for Gypsy Rose Lee’s brand of burlesque and transform the entertainment landscape—Karen Abbott creates a rich account of a legend whose sensational tale of tragedy and triumph embodies the American Dream.

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

America was flying high in the Roaring Twenties. Then, almost overnight, the Great Depression brought it crashing down. When the dust settled, people were primed for a star who could distract them from reality. Enter Gypsy Rose Lee, a strutting, bawdy, erudite stripper who possessed a gift for delivering exactly what America needed. With her superb narrative skills and eye for detail, Karen Abbott brings to life an era of ambition, glamour, struggle, and survival. Using exclusive interviews and never-before-published material, she vividly delves into Gypsy’s world, including her intense triangle relationship with her sister, actress June Havoc, and their formidable mother, Rose, a petite but ferocious woman who literally killed to get her daughters on the stage. Weaving in the compelling saga of the Minskys—four scrappy brothers from New York City who would pave the way for Gypsy Rose Lee’s brand of burlesque and transform the entertainment landscape—Karen Abbott creates a rich account of a legend whose sensational tale of tragedy and triumph embodies the American Dream.

Product Details
CD Audio
Published: December 28, 2010
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House Audio
ISBN: 9780307877093
Other books byKaren Abbott
  • Sin in the Second City

    Sin in the Second City
    Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for...
    Step into the perfumed parlors of the Everleigh Club, the most famous brothel in American history–and the catalyst for a culture war that rocked the nation. Operating in Chicago’s notorious Levee district at the dawn of the last century, the Club’s proprietors, two aristocratic sisters named Minna and Ada Everleigh, welcomed moguls and actors, senators and athletes, foreign dignitaries and literary icons, into their stately double mansion, where thirty stunning Everleigh “butterflies” awaited their arrival. Courtesans named Doll, Suzy Poon Tang, and Brick Top devoured raw meat to the delight of Prince Henry of Prussia and recited poetry for Theodore Dreiser. Whereas lesser madams pocketed most of a harlot’s earnings and kept a “whipper” on staff to mete out discipline, the Everleighs made sure their girls dined on gourmet food, were examined by an honest physician, and even tutored in the literature of Balzac. Not everyone appreciated the sisters’ attempts to elevate the industry. Rival Levee madams hatched numerous schemes to ruin the Everleighs, including an attempt to frame them for the death of department store heir Marshall Field, Jr. But the sisters’ most daunting foes were the Progressive Era reformers, who sent the entire country into a frenzy with lurid tales of “white slavery”——the allegedly rampant practice of kidnapping young girls and forcing them into brothels. This furor shaped America’s sexual culture and had repercussions all the way to the White House, including the formation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. With a cast of characters that includes Jack Johnson, John Barrymore, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., William Howard Taft, “Hinky Dink” Kenna, and Al Capone, Sin in the Second City is Karen Abbott’s colorful, nuanced portrait of the iconic Everleigh sisters, their world-famous Club, and the perennial clash between our nation’s hedonistic impulses and Puritanical roots. Culminating in a dramatic last stand between brothel keepers and crusading reformers, Sin in the Second City offers a vivid snapshot of America’s journey from Victorian-era propriety to twentieth-century modernity. Visit www.sininthesecondcity.com to learn more! “Delicious… Abbott describes the Levee’s characters in such detail that it’s easy to mistake this meticulously researched history for literary fiction.” —— New York Times Book Review “ Described with scrupulous concern for historical accuracy…an immensely readable book.” —— Joseph Epstein, The Wall Street Journal “Assiduously researched… even this book’s minutiae makes for good storytelling.” —— Janet Maslin, The New York Times “Karen Abbott has pioneered sizzle history in this satisfyingly lurid tale. Change the hemlines, add 100 years, and the book could be filed under current affairs.” —— USA Today “A rousingly racy yarn.” –Chicago Tribune “A colorful history of old Chicago that reads like a novel… a compelling and eloquent story.” —— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution “Gorgeously detailed” —— New York Daily News “At last, a history book you can bring to the beach.” —— The Philadelphia Inquirer “Once upon a time, Chicago had a world class bordello called The Everleigh Club. Author Karen Abbott brings the opulent place and its raunchy era alive in a book that just might become this years “The Devil In the White City.” —— Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine (cover story) “As Abbott’s delicious and exhaustively researched book makes vividly clear, the Everleigh Club was the Taj Mahal of bordellos.” —— Chicago Sun Times “The book is rich with details about a fast-and-loose Chicago of the early 20th century… Sin explores this world with gusto, throwing light on a booming city and exposing its shadows.” —— Time Out Chicago “[Abbott’s] research enables the kind of vivid description à la fellow journalist Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City that make what could be a dry historic account an intriguing read." – Seattle Times “Abbott tells her story with just the right mix of relish and restraint, providing a piquant guide to a world of sexuality” —— The Atlantic “A rollicking tale from a more vibrant time: history to a ragtime beat.” – Kirkus Reviews “With gleaming prose and authoritative knowledge Abbott elucidates one of the most colorful periods in American history, and the result reads like the very best fiction. Sex, opulence, murder — What's not to love?” —— Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants “A detailed and intimate portrait of the Ritz of brothels, the famed Everleigh Club of turn-of-the-century Chicago. Sisters Minna and Ada attracted the elites of the world to such glamorous chambers as the Room of 1,000 Mirrors, complete with a reflective floor. And isn’t Minna’s advice to her resident prostitutes worthy advice for us all: “Give, but give interestingly and with mystery.”’ —— Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City “Karen Abbott has combined bodice-ripping salaciousness with top-notch scholarship to produce a work more vivid than a Hollywood movie.” —— Melissa Fay Greene, author of There is No Me Without You “Sin in the Second City is a masterful history lesson, a harrowing biography, and - best of all - a superfun read. The Everleigh story closely follows the turns of American history like a little sister. I can't recommend this book loudly enough.” —— Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng “This is a story of debauchery and corruption, but it is also a story of sisterhood, and unerring devotion. Meticulously researched, and beautifully crafted, Sin in the Second City is an utterly captivating piece of history.” —— Julian Rubinstein, author of Ballad of the Whiskey Robber

    A Most Rebellious Debutante

    A Most Rebellious Debutante
    Caught in the embrace of her dancing master, seventeen year old Lucy Templeton is banished to the home of her married sister. Here, she encounters the notorious Lord Rockhaven and a stolen kiss awakens something deep within her. Reluctantly Lucy returns home and has a successful Season—but remembering that kiss, she refuses every offer of marriage. When her former dancing master abducts her from a public venue, she is disgraced in the eyes of Society and is sent back to her sister's home. It is hoped that her sister's influence will make her behave like a dutiful daughter—but the rebellious Lucy has other ideas.

    A Father for Daisy

    A Father for Daisy
    Beatrice Rossall, the daughter of an elderly vicar, is faced with a bleak future when her father dies, leaving not only Bea without a home but also Daisy, a four-month-old orphan left in her care. A local mill owner offers her the position of his housekeeper, but Bea is appalled by the conditions he imposes. Affronted by her rejection of his offer, he makes sure no one else in the area will employ her leaving Bea no option but to try and find Daisy’s father in the hope that he will accept his responsibilities. But Mr Dearden, the man named by Daisy’s mother as her seducer, denies all knowledge of the affair. With no money and nowhere to go, Bea is in a predicament until fate steps in and offers her a way out.

    American Rose

    American Rose
    A Nation Laid Bare: the Life and Times of Gypsy...
    With the critically acclaimed Sin in the Second City, bestselling author Karen Abbott “pioneered sizzle history” (USA Today). Now she returns with the gripping and expansive story of America’s coming-of-age—told through the extraordinary life of Gypsy Rose Lee and the world she survived and conquered. America in the Roaring Twenties. Vaudeville was king. Talking pictures were only a distant flicker. Speakeasies beckoned beyond dimly lit doorways; money flowed fast and free. But then, almost overnight, the Great Depression leveled everything. When the dust settled, Americans were primed for a star who could distract them from grim reality and excite them in new, unexpected ways. Enter Gypsy Rose Lee, a strutting, bawdy, erudite stripper who possessed a preternatural gift for delivering exactly what America needed. With her superb narrative skills and eye for compelling detail, Karen Abbott brings to vivid life an era of ambition, glamour, struggle, and survival. Using exclusive interviews and never-before-published material, she vividly delves into Gypsy’s world, including her intensely dramatic triangle relationship with her sister, actress June Havoc, and their formidable mother, Rose, a petite but ferocious woman who seduced men and women alike and literally killed to get her daughters on the stage. American Rose chronicles their story, as well as the story of the four scrappy and savvy showbiz brothers from New York City who would pave the way for Gypsy Rose Lee’s brand of burlesque. Modeling their shows after the glitzy, daring reviews staged in the theaters of Paris, the Minsky brothers relied on grit, determination, and a few tricks that fell just outside the law—and they would shape, and ultimately transform, the landscape of American entertainment. With a supporting cast of such Jazz- and Depression-era heavyweights as Lucky Luciano, Harry Houdini, FDR, and Fanny Brice, Karen Abbott weaves a rich narrative of a woman who defied all odds to become a legend—and whose sensational tale of tragedy and triumph embodies the American Dream. From the Hardcover edition.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • In late spring, across a stretch of former wasteland in Flushing Meadows, Queens, a quarter-million people pay 50 cents each to forget and to dream.

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  • She heeds their whistles and calls and reappears just once, giving what she has to, keeping all she can.

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