The vivid history of Beale Street - a lost world of swaggering musicians, glamorous madams, and ruthless politicians - and the battle for the soul of Memphis.
Following the Civil War, Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, thrived as a cauldron of sex and song, violence and passion. But out of this turmoil emerged a center of black progress, optimism, and cultural ferment. Preston Lauterbach tells this vivid, fascinating story through the multigenerational saga of a family whose ambition, race pride, and moral complexity indelibly shaped the city that would loom so large in American life.
Robert Church, who would become "the South's first black millionaire," was a mulatto slave owned by his white father. Having survived a deadly race riot in 1866, Church constructed an empire of vice in the booming river town. He made a fortune with saloons, gambling, and - shockingly - white prostitution. But he also nurtured the militant journalism of Ida B. Wells and helped revolutionize American music through the work of composer W. C. Handy, the man who claimed to have invented the blues.
In the face of Jim Crow, the Church fortune helped fashion the most powerful black political organization of the early 20th century. Robert and his son, Bob, Jr., bought and sold property, founded a bank, and created a park and auditorium for their people finer than the places whites had forbidden them to attend.
However, the Church family operated through a tense arrangement with the Democrat machine run by the notorious E. H. "Boss" Crump, who stole elections and controlled city hall. The battle between this black dynasty and the white political machine would define the future of Memphis.
Brilliantly researched and swiftly plotted, Beale Street Dynasty offers a captivating account of one of America's iconic cities - by one of our most talented narrative historians.
©2015 Preston Lauterbach (P)2015 Audible Inc.
I have this book in e-book format but prefer audio versions of books so I was thrilled when I saw this was available. This is the worst narrator I have ever heard. Words mispronounced - not cities and streets unique to this city but basic English language.
Different narrator. Good lord, any narrator would be an improvement. I can not believe that this narrator makes a living at this.
This version should be pulled from Audible and replaced with something completely new.
I've lived in Memphis for the majority of my five decades and never heard many of the stories nor known some of the characters. Hard to fathom that Robert Church - the "South's first black millionaire" - is relatively unknown.
Great read but didn't care for the narrator.
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