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Download American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee, by Karen Abbott Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,316 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Karen Abbott Narrator: Bernadette Dunne Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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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Quotes & Awards

  • “Abbott creates a brainy striptease similar to the one her subject may have performed: uncovering doozies in one chapter about Lee’s outrageous life, followed in the next by the less salacious (but always captivating) details about how New York City’s Minsky brothers, who played a crucial role in Lee’s stardom, built their burlesque empire.”


  • “A haunting portrait of a woman ‘giving what she has to, keeping all she can,’ offering her audiences a sassy, confident self while making sure they would never know the damaged soul who created her.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Abbott’s portrait of the famed stripper is both darker and more inspiring than the famed stripper’s version of her life as filtered by Broadway or Hollywood.”

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the January 2011 Indie Next List

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Vicki | 2/17/2014

    " Gypsy Rose Lee's life was fascinating and almost Forrest Gumpian in the number of famous lives with which hers intersected. So on the facts, this was a decent read. But the structure was abominable, so much so that I blame Abbott's editor as much as I do the author herself. Instead of coming across as a way to add interest, the jumps in time and perspective made it seem like she was covering up for a lack of material. Even more disturbing, the analysis of the abuse - both child and sexual- that was endemic to Gypsy's life in vaudeville and burlesque ranged from absent to sophomoric. Call me demanding, but I expect more from a book about the rise of burlesque than "yay, look, titties!" "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Bradley | 2/13/2014

    " I've always been fascinated with the life of Gypsy Rose Lee. This is a biography of the legendary striptease artist. This book didn't read right to me. I guess that I can only say read it and come to your own conclusions. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Beth Melillo | 2/12/2014

    " A fascinating biography of a very fascinating woman. I had never heard of Gypsy before, and so when I read an article about her, I was curious about her life. The book jumps forward and back between different years of her life. An interesting structural device by the author; I'm assuming it was meant to mimic peeling away years of her life in the same way Gypsy Rose Lee's peeled off her clothes. In the end though, I thought the book dragged on for a very long time, and skimmed the last hundred pages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Shaon | 2/8/2014

    " Fascinating history of a period. "

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