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

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Synopsis

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.





 

About Karen Abbott

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Karen Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City. A native of Philadelphia, she now lives in New York City with her husband and two African Grey parrots who do a mean Ethel Merman. Visit her online at www.karenabbott.net.
 
Published July 10, 2007 by Random House. 356 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Business & Economics, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Sin in the Second City

The New York Times

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Karen Abbott writes with frankness about the particulars of prostitution in Chicago in 1900, in a book that is assiduously researched and well put together.

Jul 13 2007 | Read Full Review of Sin in the Second City: Madam...

The New York Times

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How two sisters in Chicago created the early 20th century’s most glamorous brothel.

Aug 12 2007 | Read Full Review of Sin in the Second City: Madam...

BC Books

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A look at the most famous brothel at the turn of the century, and its struggle to remain legal.

Oct 13 2008 | Read Full Review of Sin in the Second City: Madam...

USA Today

(Girls as young as 13 were drugged, raped and forced into prostitution by organized gangs who often targeted naive newcomers or immigrants.

| Read Full Review of Sin in the Second City: Madam...

Baby Got Books

Tomorrow night (Wed, July 25, 8PM, $5) A Capella Books and The Chattahoochee Review are hosting a Ballroom Bash at the Highland Inn (Atlanta) for the book Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott.

Jul 25 2007 | Read Full Review of Sin in the Second City: Madam...

Windy City Media

Karen Abbott's Sin in the Second City is an assiduously researched and lively look at the Everleigh sisters, Minna and Ada, women who seemed to come from nowhere to found the famed brothel, the Everleigh Club.

Apr 02 2008 | Read Full Review of Sin in the Second City: Madam...

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