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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 Audiobook, 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: December 2010 ISBN: 9780307877109
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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.”

    Newsday

  • “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 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 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 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 Shaon | 2/8/2014

    " Fascinating history of a period. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim Labay | 2/5/2014

    " From my childhood seeing Gypsy on talk shows I fell in love with this brash outspoken woman. One of my all time favorite musicals is "Gypsy" and I had to know more about this amazing woman. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I spent with this book. Well worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda Cohen | 1/23/2014

    " I was lucky enough to get an ARC & must confess I couldn't put it down! This has always been one of my favorite musicals and its nice to learn where the facts and the fictions intertwine. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 1/21/2014

    " More than just a straight biography of Gypsy Rose Lee, this book gave a broader look at the time during which she came of age. The glimpse one gets of Ms Lee's biological family is quite enough; I would not want to know any more about them unless this were a study of pathological psychology. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brett | 1/18/2014

    " An interesting look at the woman behind the famous musical "Gypsy" & its surrounding legend. The story is told semi-chronologically, jumping between the beginning of her life & career, & its end. Gypsy Rose Lee truly was the definition of a self-made woman, & it's interesting to see Abbott try to make an engaging & informative biography on a woman who told so many stories about herself, her past, & her life that it becomes unclear if she even knew the truth herself. I didn't flat-out love it as much as Abbott's first work, but I look forward to any more narrative nonfiction history she writes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steve Shilstone | 1/14/2014

    " The story of a poor damaged valiant intelligent funny woman hiding behind an Auntie Mame facade. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pamela Ferguson | 1/9/2014

    " A cumbersome read - chapters went back and forth to different stages of Gypsy Rose Lee's life. A great historical read about vaudeville and the burlesque movements. A tough stage mom who is hard to like! Check it out! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leata Holloway | 1/5/2014

    " It's interesting learning facts about an individual you know about only through a popular Broadway musical. For some reason, without really thinking about it, I sort of accepted that Gypsy Rose Lee was pretty much like she was in that show. Well! Yes and no. YES AND NO. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 11/26/2013

    " Great stories & good alternative for fans of "Gypsy," such as myself. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 mim | 5/22/2013

    " This told the story of Gypsy closer to the truth than the play/movie. I liked that it was also about vaudeville and burlesque. Learning about the men who ran the businesses as well as Gypsy Rose Lee's life was interesting. The author is a reporter and I enjoy the writing of reporters, in general. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Terryann | 5/7/2013

    " fascinating! i couldn't put it down, what a life. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret | 2/1/2013

    " lots of interesting detail. I found it hard to follow the story because of the way she skips back and forth in time "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pam Mezaraups | 6/21/2012

    " I found the constant shifting around in date and time occasionally confusing but an extraordinary story nonetheless. Redoing and rebuilding a life is extremely difficult and such a dysfunctional family makes changing history necessary. A lonely life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mawdi | 3/10/2012

    " I really enjoyed this account of the life of Gypsy rose Lee. I was fascinated of the culture and the famous names mentioned in this book. Highly recommend this read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rosary | 11/24/2011

    " I like Karen Abbot's writing, but I wasn't in love with the way she cut between time frames. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 May FLower | 11/2/2011

    " Stopped reading after finishing the 4th chapter because the author kept skipping needlessly around in time and it was driving me nuts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 NuevoRain | 10/30/2011

    " Interesting, nonlinear telling of Gypsy's story. This is the type of book that was made for additional info like video and audio clips. For some reason, I'm always pleased when someone from the Northwest does well. Go Gypsy? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lucy | 5/22/2011

    " Similar to her debut book She Second City, but a great deal more personal and novelistic. The author mistakenly places Woman's Hospital at 110th street and Amsterdam (it's at 114th Street and Amsterdam). I e-mailed her about it but have not gotten a response. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Erin | 5/19/2011

    " This biography of Gypsy Rose Lee fails because it is choppy and not in chronological order. I would still like to read this authors book on old Chicago, Sin and the Second City. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret | 4/13/2011

    " lots of interesting detail. I found it hard to follow the story because of the way she skips back and forth in time "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 4/12/2011

    " I am completely enthralled by the life of Gypsy Rose Lee. It's absolutley fascinating! "

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About the Author

Karen Abbott is the New York Times bestselling author of Sin in the Second City and American Rose. She is a regular contributor to Smithsonian.com, and also writes for Disunion, the New York Times series about the Civil War. A native of Philadelphia, where she worked as a journalist, she now lives with her husband and two African Grey parrots in New York City. Visit her online at www.KarenAbbott.net

About the Narrator

Bernadette Dunne is the winner of numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been nominated for the prestigious Audie Award. She studied at the Royal National Theatre in London and the Studio Theater in Washington, DC, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center and off Broadway. She lives in Brooklyn.