Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New in Paperback: Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott

When it was released in hardcover last July, The New York Times called Karen Abbott’s biography of what was arguably America’s most notorious brothel “a lush love letter to the underworld.” What they didn’t say is that there are times in Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul (Random House) that you just want to shake your head and rub your eyes before continuing. It can be almost frightening when the reality sinks in: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The Everleigh Club in Chicago was run by the sisters Everleigh, Minna and Ada at 2131-2133 South Dearborn Street at the early part of the 20th century. We get to know them quite well in Abbott’s book. “Their entrée in the madam business was a fortuitous accident,” she writes of the Everleigh sisters, “two proper Victorian ladies who decided that creating a fantasy for others was better than pretending to live in one.”



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