Karen Abbott (AKA: Abbott Kahler), is the New York Times bestselling author of Sin In The Second City, American Rose, and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, and Amazon.
Abbott has written for newyorker.com, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, and other publications.
Her new book, The Ghosts of Eden Park, is an instant New York Times bestseller, an Edgar Award finalist for best fact crime, an Indie Next pick, an Amazon best book of 2019, and a Smithsonian Magazine top ten history book of 2019.
“An exhaustively researched, hugely entertaining work of popular history that…exhumes a colorful crew of once-celebrated characters and restores them to full-blooded life… [Abbott’s] métier is narrative nonfiction and—as this vibrant, enormously readable bookmakes clear—she is one of the masters of the art.”
~ Wall Street Journal
“Engrossing… This real-life page-turner will appeal to fans of Erik Larson.”
~ Publishers Weekly (starred review)
THE GHOSTS OF EDEN PARK
In the early days of Prohibition, long before Al Capone became a household name, a German immigrant named George Remus quits practicing law and starts trafficking whiskey. Within two years he’s a multi-millionaire. The press calls him “King of the Bootleggers,” writing breathless stories about the Gatsby-esque events he and his glamorous second wife, Imogene, host at their Cincinnati mansion, with party favors ranging from diamond jewelry for the men to brand-new Pontiacs for the women. By the summer of 1921, Remus owns 35 percent of all the liquor in the United States.
Pioneering prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt is determined to bring him down. Willebrandt’s bosses at the U.S. Attorney’s office hired her right out of law school, assuming she’d pose no real threat to the cozy relationship they maintain with Remus. Eager to prove them wrong, she dispatches her best investigator, Franklin Dodge, to look into his empire. It’s a decision with deadly consequences: with Remus behind bars, Franklin and Imogene begin an affair and plot to ruin him, sparking a bitter feud that soon reaches the highest levels of government–and that can only end in murder.
Combining deep historical research with novelistic flair, THE GHOSTS OF EDEN PARK is the unforgettable, stranger-than-fiction story of a rags-to-riches entrepreneur and a long-forgotten heroine, of the excesses and absurdities of the Jazz Age, and of the infinite human capacity to deceive.
“With this book, Karen Abbott declares herself the John le Carré of Civil War espionage, with the added benefit that the saga she tells is all true and beautifully researched. Her four protagonists, exuding charm, adept at skulduggery, take us on a sweeping and bloody jaunt across the Civil Warlandscape, into an intimate realm of warfare that will yield for even the most hard-core Civil War buff a wholly fresh perspective on those deadly days.”
— Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts
LIAR, TEMPTRESS, SOLDIER, SPY
Four Women Undercover in the Civil War
LIAR, TEMPTRESS, SOLDIER, SPY tells the spellbinding true story of four women who risked everything—their homes, their families, and their very lives—during the Civil War.
Seventeen-year-old Belle Boyd, an avowed rebel with a dangerous temper, shot a Union soldier in her home and became a courier and spy for the Confederate army, using her considerable charms to seduce men on both sides. Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man to enlist as a Union private named “Frank Thompson,” witnessing the bloodiest battles of the war and infiltrating enemy lines, all the while fearing that her past would catch up with her. The beautiful widow Rose O’Neal Greenhow engaged in affairs with powerful Northern politicians, used her young daughter to send information to Southern generals, and sailed abroad to lobby for the Confederacy, a journey that cost her more than she ever imagined. Elizabeth Van Lew, a wealthy Richmond abolitionist, hid behind her proper Southern manners as she orchestrated a far-reaching espionage ring—even placing a former slave inside the Confederate White House—right under the noses of increasingly suspicious rebel detectives.
Karen Abbott’s pulse-quickening narrative reads like the finest fiction, seamlessly weaving the adventures of these four heroines across the tumultuous landscape of a broken America, and evoking a secret world that will surprise even the most avid fan of the Civil War. With a cast of real-life characters including Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, General Stonewall Jackson, detective Allan Pinkerton, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, and Emperor Napoleon III, LIAR, TEMPTRESS, SOLDIER, SPY draws the reader into the war as these daring women lived it, constantly courting risk and raising the stakes, and not one of them ever quite what she seemed.
“Sad, smart, brassy… the true story of the Queen of Burlesque is even weirder and wilder than the legend.”
“[Karen 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.”
— The Atlanta Journal Constitution
The Live and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
American 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 dramatic 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 revues 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-Age and Depression-era heavyweights as Lucky Luciano, Harry Houdini, FDR and Fanny Brice, 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.
“Poetic… Abbott describes the Levee’s characters in such detail that it’s easy to mistake this meticulously researched history for literary fiction.”
— The New York Times Book Review
“Once upon a time, Chicago had a world-class bordello called The Everleigh Club. Karen Abbott brings the opulent place and its raunchy era alive in a book that just might become this year’s The Devil in the White City.”
— Chicago Tribune Magazine (cover story)
SIN IN THE SECOND CITY
Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul
Step into the perfumed parlors of the Everleigh Club, the most famous brothel in American history—and a catalyst for a culture war that rocked the nation. Minna and Ada Everleigh, the two sisters who operated the Club at the dawn of the last century, were unlike other madams: The Everleighs made sure their girls dined on gourmet food, were examined by an honest physician, and even tutored in the literature of Balzac.
But not everyone appreciated the sisters’ attempts to elevate the industry…
Rival madams in Chicago’s Levee 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 whipped 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. It was a furor that 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 real-life cast of characters including Jack Johnson, Edgar Lee Masters, John D. Rockefeller Jr., William Howard Taft, and Al Capone, Sin in the Second City is a colorful, nuanced portrait of the iconic Everleigh sisters, their world-famous Club, and the perennial clash between our 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 20th century modernity.
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