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Download Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for Americas Soul 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 (5,715 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Karen Abbott Narrator: Joyce Bean Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2007 ISBN: 9781400174669
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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 twentieth 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 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 twentieth-century modernity. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Described with scrupulous concern for historical accuracy…An immensely readable book.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • Sin in the Second City is a masterful history lesson, a harrowing biography, and---best of all---a superfun read…. I can't recommend this book loudly enough. Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng"
  • “Delicious…Abbott describes the Levee’s characters in such detail that it’s easy to mistake this meticulously researched history for literary fiction.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A colorful history of old Chicago that reads like a novel…A compelling and eloquent story.”

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sean | 2/8/2014

    " A lot of interesting historical info, obnoxiously written. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy Blake | 2/3/2014

    " Vivid, well-sourced nonfiction about turn of the 20th century prostitution in Chicago, focusing primarily on the Everleigh Club (where it's reputed the term "getting laid," a shortened form of "getting Everleighed" originated). Madams, harlots, politicians, and Christian missionaries duke it out for control of the windy city's destiny. A great follow-up (by a different author) to Devil in the White City. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marcus Lynn | 1/31/2014

    " Abbott writes well enough but failed to tie in the disparate characters in a fashion that would drive me to recommend this book to everyone. If you love Chicago, or curious to how prostitution can run rampant from the law, then this is probably a book you'll enjoy more. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 JuJu | 1/28/2014

    " If I could give it 3 1/2 stars I would. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mon Amour, | 1/27/2014

    " Prostitution in 18th century Chicago. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alison | 1/9/2014

    " I learned more than I ever knew I wanted to know about burlosque houses in Chicago. Very interesting and told from the perspective of a classy house. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Johnplavelle | 1/9/2014

    " The Levee district in old Chicago was a wild place. The efforts of the reformists to change things seemed to have worked and yet what they brought to Chicago was worse than what they chased away. Enter Al Capone and the mob. "

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

    " Thus far this is another very interesting & little known history about my fair windy city. In a similar vein to Devil in the White City, Sin in the Second City combines unbelievable historical fact and a great narrative to great effect. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Frances | 1/6/2014

    " Started reading it and unfortunately can't get hooked. I love history books and especially ones with interesting topis like this, but can't get into it. Will revisit later I think "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Taylor Deatherage | 12/16/2013

    " An original point of view on the early history of Chicago. I read everything I can get my hands on about the shaping of this city, and there was plenty in here that I was unfamiliar with! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 johnny | 12/12/2013

    " did you know that what is currently Chinatown in Chicago used to be the 'Levee' district? Amazing. :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angelia | 10/30/2013

    " I wasn't as impressed as I was with Devil in the White City, but very interesting read on the topic of prostitution in Chicago at the turn of the century. I'm planning on reading more about the history of Chicago politics. Also was interesting to hear about where Capone got his start. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Angie Martin | 4/21/2013

    " Boring and tedious... that's about all I can say. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Teal | 4/14/2013

    " Not as interesting as I'd thought it would be, considering it's about prostitution. But the whole war on prostitution from the 20s made me think about the war on drugs now.. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katherine | 11/16/2012

    " Disappointing and frankly a little dull. I've read a LOT of books on the history of prostitution, and I thought some of the purely academic ones were actually more engaging. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Becky Levin | 10/1/2012

    " If you're expecting another Devil in the White City, keep on looking. If you're expecting lots of salacious sex scandals, you'll be disappointed. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jminniswebb | 5/21/2011

    " After rave reviews, could not hang in there and finish. Lacked development of characters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sue | 4/9/2011

    " Fascinating account of the Everleigh club in Chicago. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karmen | 4/5/2011

    " Interesting read of Chicago's red light district in the early 20th century.

    It is rather a shame that there isn't an Everleigh Club today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Regina | 4/2/2011

    " Great historical book about Chicago from the "booty" perspective. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vicki | 4/1/2011

    " Very interesting account of an interesting time in American, and Chicago's, history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine | 3/25/2011

    " Interesting book. I liked the history lesson.
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lonnie | 3/8/2011

    " Who doesn't love a book about well-to-do hookers? These ladies were a force to be reckoned with - who knew you could have so many enemies? What a ride! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Carol | 2/28/2011

    " Too academic and dry for my taste. I heard the author on NPR and she was riveting, but the book was disappointing. Unless you are a scholar, you likely won't find the story as compelling as the title insinuates. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jacki | 2/17/2011

    " Chicago madams and their flunkies, a great story, but written in a passive tone that excluded the vivacious lifestyle surely evoked in history. "

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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

Joyce Bean is an accomplished audiobook narrator and director. In addition to having won eight AudioFile Earphones Awards, she has been nominated multiple times for the prestigious Audie Award. Equally adept at narrating fiction and nonfiction, and she also narrates audiobooks under the name Jane Brown.