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
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
With a supporting cast of such
Jazz- and Depression-era heavyweights as Lucky Luciano, Harry Houdini, FDR, and
Fanny Brice, Karen Abbott weaves a rich narrative of a woman who defied all
odds to become a legend, and whose sensational tale of tragedy and triumph
embodies the American Dream.
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