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The Queen

The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth
Narrated by: January LaVoy
Length: 12 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"The Queen is an invaluable work of nonfiction." (David Grann, number one New York Times best-selling author of Killers of the Flower Moon) 

Slate editor Josh Levin's masterful account of the life and crimes of America's original "welfare queen".

On the South Side of Chicago in 1974, Linda Taylor reported a phony burglary, concocting a lie about stolen furs and jewelry. The detective who checked it out soon discovered she was a welfare cheat who drove a Cadillac to collect ill-gotten government checks. And that was just the beginning: Taylor, it turned out, was also a kidnapper and possibly a murderer. A desperately ill teacher, a combat-traumatized Marine, an elderly woman hungry for companionship - after Taylor came into their lives, all three ended up dead under suspicious circumstances. 

But nobody - not the journalists who touted her story, not the police, and not presidential candidate Ronald Reagan - seemed to care about anything but her welfare thievery. Growing up in the Jim Crow South, Taylor was made an outcast because of the color of her skin. As she rose to infamy, the press and politicians manipulated her image to demonize poor black women. 

Part social history, part true-crime investigation, Josh Levin's mesmerizing audiobook, the product of six years of reporting and research, is a fascinating account of American racism and an expose of the "welfare queen" myth, one that fueled political debates that reverberate to this day. The Queen tells, for the first time, the fascinating story of what was done to Linda Taylor, what she did to others, and what was done in her name. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2019 Josh Levin (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"The Queen is a wild, only-in-America story that helped me understand my country better. It's a fascinating portrait of a con artist and a nation...and the ways the United States continually relies on oversimplified narratives about race and class to shape public policy, almost always at the expense of brown people and poor people." (Attica Locke, author of the Edgar Award-winning Bluebird, Bluebird)

"For decades, Linda Taylor has been demagogued by politicians and the press, reduced to a cruel stereotype: the welfare queen shamelessly leeching from government coffers. Through meticulous reporting, Josh Levin's The Queen illuminates in full the story of a life far more complicated, cunning, criminal, tragic and fascinating than the historical stereotype would have ever allowed us to see." (Wesley Lowery, author of They Can't Kill Us All)

"It is impossible to read The Queen without pausing every few pages to marvel at either the brilliance of Josh Levin's research or the sheer wildness of the tale. By pouring years of devotion into piecing together Linda Taylor's bizarre criminal odyssey, Levin has created a work of American history like no other - an enthralling portrait of a nation whose splendid promise has too often been distorted by prejudice and political cynicism." (Brendan I. Koerner, author of The Skies Belong to Us and Now the Hell Will Start)

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Truths untold

Denying the truth if Linda Taylor, the grifter, kidnapper, and murder, just to broad brush the underprivileged with a tired trope. This is who the beloved Ronald Reagan really is.