With the critically acclaimed Sin in the Second City, best-selling 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.
©2010 Karen Abbott (P)2010 Random House
“A delicious history . . . a lush love letter to the underworld . . . [Abbott] describes the Levee’s characters in such detail that it’s easy to mistake this meticulously researched history for literary fiction.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“[Abbott’s] research enables the kind of vivid description à la fellow journalist Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City that makes what could be a dry historic account an intriguing read.” (The Seattle Times)
“[A] satisfyingly lurid tale . . . Change the hemlines, add 100 years, and the book could be filed under current affairs.” (USA Today)
Life long fan of the mystery story. I like books where something actually happens, so history and biography are favorites of mine also. I also think that even good books are improved tremendously when an actor performs the narration.
It's a good biography, but difficult to listen to because of the time shifts. The author moves back & forth through the highlights of a very busy and very short life and it's difficult to keep track of marriages, performances and relationships because of the time jumping.
Be sure to view YouTube with videos of Gypsy Rose Lee performing (very G rated, but very interesting) and go to the book's website to see photos of Tough Rose and Baby June
What a great peek into the depths of vaudeville, burlesque, the 20th c American economy and social mores, and what life was like before the development of pervasive psychological and psychiatric literacy. While parts of this story are very tragic, Gypsy Rose Lee's spirit and the portrait of her clearly borderline personality mother are fascinating. Very well narrated.
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