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Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul | [Karen Abbott]

Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul

Karen Abbott's colorful, nuanced portrait of the iconic Everleigh sisters; their world-famous brothel, the Everleigh Club; and the perennial clash between our nation's hedonistic impulses and Puritanical roots culminates 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 20th-century modernity.
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Publisher's Summary

Operating in Chicago's notorious Levee district at the dawn of the 20th century, the Everleigh 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 30 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 were 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.

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 20th-century modernity.

©2007 Karen Abbott; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.

What the Critics Say

"An entertaining, well-researched slice of Windy City history." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (152 )
5 star
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3.6 (52 )
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3.6 (50 )
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Z. Halley New York, NY 04-17-10
    Z. Halley New York, NY 04-17-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great book - brilliant narrator!"

    Ms. Abbott's history of this little niche in Chicago's history and an important step in the take over of the politics by the religious right makes this book interesting beyond just the salacious subject matter. She handles the story with the class and wit that would make the Everyleigh sisters proud.

    The other delight of this book is it's narrator Joyce Bean. I'll simply say: I want her to narrate everything I listen to!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberly Davenport, IA, USA 10-10-08
    Kimberly Davenport, IA, USA 10-10-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "How to make sin boring."

    I really don't quite know how this author could have made this topic boring, but she did. It was so choppy, jumping from one story to another without any sense of continuity. It was like reading someones notes for a thesis that were dropped, got mixed up and weren't put in order. I am a diehard audible fan, and will listen to books I that I would never finish in hard copy, but I couldn't even be bothered with finishing this book. After 7 hours my ears were bleeding, I could take no more. And to top it off there were several lousy edits of repeated dialog that were not cut out of the narration. Don't bother with this "sin" of a book.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenifer Lansing, MI, United States 05-09-13
    Jenifer Lansing, MI, United States 05-09-13
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    "Could have told more of a story"
    Any additional comments?

    Many of the other reviewers were very harsh. I agree that this felt very unfocused. I understood that the story was told of the sisters chronologically, but I really though that there could have been a stronger theme presented. Perhaps, some artistic license as to describing the characters. Some of the ancillary characters were described in far too great of detail making things very confusing.

    I mean come on! When you have to have a LIST OF CHARACTERS at the beginning just to keep track of everyone, that should be the first clue that something isn't done well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 12-27-13
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 12-27-13 Member Since 2007

    Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton.  In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!! 

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "LOVED IT!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I d recommend this book. It moved along in an interesting informative way.


    What other book might you compare Sin in the Second City to and why?

    Maybe Erik Larkin's "Devil In The White City" - not because the story lines are similar but because of the wealth of historical information on that period in Ameican general history, in addition to the annals of the crime of that era.


    Have you listened to any of Joyce Bean’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Joyce Bean has always been a great narrator. The only comparison is that each performance is consistent so that the reader always knows what to expect.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    "Women Should Never Broke Since They Are Sitting On Their Payckecks!"


    Any additional comments?

    A well-written and researched book about two women who parlayed and raised the "world's oldest profession" to a dizzying height. Well done, Divas! 😎

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Devin Shughart Citrus Heights, CA United States 07-09-13
    Devin Shughart Citrus Heights, CA United States 07-09-13 Member Since 2013

    Love Reading, happy I found Audible. Listen to books, on my way home, while working out, and at work. Been reading a lot of Non-Fiction history and science.

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    "A Losing Battle"

    This was a very good book, I wasn't fully prepared for the depth of human trafficking that came with it. Not knowing the long and hard to believe history that America had with what was called "white slavery" the sale of young women to brothels and pimps. I am very interested in Chicago's history and there is a lot of it here. I recommend this book for sure, but be warned that there were some horrible things going on at the turn of the century and that it is all covered here. As far as the performance, I felt that it was a very good reading, not one of my favorites but good none the less.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    e davis new albany, indiana, United States 11-22-12
    e davis new albany, indiana, United States 11-22-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting listen"

    Excellent perspective on Chicago in this era...not just the brothel but in general Chicago at this time

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary S. Arkell New Jersey 10-22-12
    Gary S. Arkell New Jersey 10-22-12 Member Since 2006

    Gary S. Arkell

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    "interesting account of history in Chicago"

    I enjoyed this book at lot. I almost wish I could go to Chicago and see the area portrayed in this story. It is a shame all of the buildings were torn down. This book mentions many famous people in history and tells an interesting chapter of Chicago's history.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Stacey Boston 05-21-12
    A. Stacey Boston 05-21-12 Member Since 2010

    Ameila33

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    "Great "Read" Fun, entertaining and enlightening"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Sin in the Second City to be better than the print version?

    This was a well written- full of information book. The narration was well done- there was a glitch a couple of times a sentence or two would repeat, interesting and great pace.

    I never knew of the Everleigh Sisters and found their lives and the times they were in fascinating!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The history and the story- well told almost like a novel but with plenty of history!


    What does Joyce Bean bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Well paced, great cadance.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Only part that was discordent to me was the great-niece who mailed to Wallace about how Minna lied- prove it- there should have been some follow up with family members.


    Any additional comments?

    Nope- Highly recommend this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Hemet, CA, United States 10-25-11
    Kathleen Hemet, CA, United States 10-25-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Runs into tedium towards the end...."

    This book started out to be interesting but as it wore on, it just got tedious. The author follows up so you know what happened to everybody & the fact that it is history & not fiction kept me listening. It was like the author was told the book needed more length, and she padded the story. If I had it to do over, I wouldn't have used a credit. The narrator has a rather abrasive voice that I got tired listening to. She does continually call the ladies who are the center of the story "harlots" so much that it made me laugh. The facts are told without being vulgar (I didn't think so anyway) but I was surprised the story wasn't a little more lively. I liked the movie "Cheyenne Social Club"-this book is nothing like that.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Denise R Chicacgo, IL, USA 10-09-07
    Denise R Chicacgo, IL, USA 10-09-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sin in the Second City"

    Great history and insight into Chicago politics of the early 20th century.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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