Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Authors
Books
Features
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • Sin in the Second City
  • Written by Karen Abbott
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780812975994
  • Our Price: $16.00
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Sin in the Second City

Buy now from Random House

  • Sin in the Second City
  • Written by Karen Abbott
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9781588366436
  • Our Price: $11.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - Sin in the Second City

Sin in the Second City

    Select a Format:
  • Book
  • eBook

Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul

Written by Karen AbbottAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Karen Abbott

eBook

List Price: $11.99

eBook

On Sale: July 10, 2007
Pages: | ISBN: 978-1-58836-643-6
Published by : Random House Random House Group
Sin in the Second City Cover

Bookmark,
Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Sin in the Second City
  • Email this page - Sin in the Second City
  • Print this page - Sin in the Second City
ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Synopsis

Synopsis

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 last 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 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, including the formation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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.

Visit www.sininthesecondcity.com to learn more!

“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

“ Described with scrupulous concern for historical accuracy…an immensely readable book.”
—— Joseph Epstein, The Wall Street Journal

“Assiduously researched… even this book’s minutiae makes for good storytelling.”
—— Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Karen Abbott has pioneered sizzle history in this satisfyingly lurid tale. Change the hemlines, add 100 years, and the book could be filed under current affairs.” —— USA Today

“A rousingly racy yarn.” –Chicago Tribune
“A colorful history of old Chicago that reads like a novel… a compelling and eloquent story.” —— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Gorgeously detailed—— New York Daily News

“At last, a history book you can bring to the beach.” —— The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Once upon a time, Chicago had a world class bordello called The Everleigh Club. Author Karen Abbott brings the opulent place and its raunchy era alive in a book that just might become this years “The Devil In the White City.” —— Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine (cover story)

“As Abbott’s delicious and exhaustively researched book makes vividly clear, the Everleigh Club was the Taj Mahal of bordellos.” —— Chicago Sun Times

“The book is rich with details about a fast-and-loose Chicago of the early 20th century… Sin explores this world with gusto, throwing light on a booming city and exposing its shadows.”
—— Time Out Chicago

“[Abbott’s] research enables the kind of vivid description à la fellow journalist Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City that make what could be a dry historic account an intriguing read."
Seattle Times

“Abbott tells her story with just the right mix of relish and restraint, providing a piquant guide to a world of sexuality” —— The Atlantic

“A rollicking tale from a more vibrant time: history to a ragtime beat.”
Kirkus Reviews


“With gleaming prose and authoritative knowledge Abbott elucidates one of the most colorful periods in American history, and the result reads like the very best fiction. Sex, opulence, murder — What's not to love?”
—— Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants


“A detailed and intimate portrait of the Ritz of brothels, the famed Everleigh Club of turn-of-the-century Chicago. Sisters Minna and Ada attracted the elites of the world to such glamorous chambers as the Room of 1,000 Mirrors, complete with a reflective floor. And isn’t Minna’s advice to her resident prostitutes worthy advice for us all: “Give, but give interestingly and with mystery.”’
—— Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City


“Karen Abbott has combined bodice-ripping salaciousness with top-notch scholarship to produce a work more vivid than a Hollywood movie.”
—— Melissa Fay Greene, author of There is No Me Without You


Sin in the Second City is a masterful history lesson, a harrowing biography, and - best of all - a superfun read. The Everleigh story closely follows the turns of American history like a little sister. I can't recommend this book loudly enough.”
—— Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng


“This is a story of debauchery and corruption, but it is also a story of sisterhood, and unerring devotion. Meticulously researched, and beautifully crafted, Sin in the Second City is an utterly captivating piece of history.”
—— Julian Rubinstein, author of Ballad of the Whiskey Robber
Karen Abbott

About Karen Abbott

Karen Abbott - Sin in the Second City
Karen Abbott worked as a journalist on the staffs of Philadelphia magazine and Philadelphia Weekly, and has written for Salon.com and other publications. She is the author of Sin in the Second City. A native of Philadelphia, she now lives with her husband in Atlanta, where she’s at work on her next book. Visit her online at www.sininthesecondcity.com.
Praise

Praise

“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

“ Described with scrupulous concern for historical accuracy…an immensely readable book.”
—— Joseph Epstein, The Wall Street Journal

“Assiduously researched… even this book’s minutiae makes for good storytelling.”
—— Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“Karen Abbott has pioneered sizzle history in this satisfyingly lurid tale. Change the hemlines, add 100 years, and the book could be filed under current affairs.” —— USA Today

“A rousingly racy yarn.” –Chicago Tribune
“A colorful history of old Chicago that reads like a novel… a compelling and eloquent story.” —— The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Gorgeously detailed—— New York Daily News

“At last, a history book you can bring to the beach.” —— The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Once upon a time, Chicago had a world class bordello called The Everleigh Club. Author Karen Abbott brings the opulent place and its raunchy era alive in a book that just might become this years “The Devil In the White City.” —— Chicago Tribune Sunday Magazine (cover story)

“As Abbott’s delicious and exhaustively researched book makes vividly clear, the Everleigh Club was the Taj Mahal of bordellos.” —— Chicago Sun Times

“The book is rich with details about a fast-and-loose Chicago of the early 20th century… Sin explores this world with gusto, throwing light on a booming city and exposing its shadows.”
—— Time Out Chicago

“[Abbott’s] research enables the kind of vivid description à la fellow journalist Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City that make what could be a dry historic account an intriguing read."
Seattle Times

“Abbott tells her story with just the right mix of relish and restraint, providing a piquant guide to a world of sexuality” —— The Atlantic

“A rollicking tale from a more vibrant time: history to a ragtime beat.”
Kirkus Reviews
Discussion Questions

Discussion Guides

1. The Everleigh sisters were technically criminals, yet they genuinely believed they were helping the girls in the Club. What do you think about the Everleigh sisters’ business practices? Why were they so successful?

2. How are Minna and Ada alike, and how are they different? Who was the stronger sister, in your opinion? How were they able to perpetuate so many lies for so long?

3. In what ways does Abbott’s portrait of turn-of-the-century America mirror the present day?

4. At the time the Everleighs ruled Chicago, what other choices did women have? Do you judge the women who became “sporting girls”? Do you judge the madams? What path do you think you would have chosen if you’d been alive and facing similar circumstances during the turn of the century?

5. On the surface it seems that there are only two sides in Sin in the Second City—the reformers and the sisters—but there are actually a few more: the politicians, the Levee gangsters, and the rival madams. Are there heroes in Sin in the Second City, and are there villains? Who did you sympathize with? Did you find your loyalties shifting at any point along the way?

6. Do you think the reformers exaggerated or accurately represented the “white slavery” situation?

7. At one point, the African American boxing champion Jack Johnson shows up at the Club, and his presence causes quite a commotion. What does his visit tell you in terms of race and America at the turn of the century?

8. How did America’s sexual culture change during the Everleighs’ reign? Who was primarily responsible for these changes, the reformers or the underworld?

9. Chicago is as much a character in Sin in the Second City as the gangsters and the madams. Why do you think the Everleigh sisters chose to settle in Chicago? Would they have been as successful in another city, or was Chicago particularly conducive to their success?

10. Many reformers cited strong religious convictions as a reason for fighting the red-light districts. How do you think the religious tenor of the times compares to that of today?

11. What was your favorite Everleigh Club anecdote?

12. What satisfaction can be derived from a nonfiction book like Sin in the Second City that can’t be from novels? In what ways is the book like a novel?

13. Abbott stumbled upon the story of the Everleigh sisters while researching a long-lost relative. How much do you know about your own family’s history and ancestry? Do you know where they were and what they were doing from 1900 to 1911, when the Everleigh Club was in business?


Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: