Sin in the Second City

  • by Karen Abbott
  • Narrated by Joyce Bean
  • 11 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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What the Critics Say

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

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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!
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- Z. Halley

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.
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- Kimberly

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-06-2007
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio