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American Eve

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  1,557 ratings  ·  236 reviews
The scandalous story of America's first supermodel, sex goddess, and modern celebrity--Evelyn Nesbit.
By the time of her sixteenth birthday in 1900, Evelyn Nesbit was known to millions as the most photographed woman of her era, an iconic figure who set the standard for female beauty, and whose innocent sexuality was used to sell everything from chocolates to perfume. Women...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Riverhead Books (first published 2008)
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Jun 01, 2009 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: feckless deflowerers; america's next top model
So after a sleepless night of guilty twisting in my sheets (really) plagued by nightmares about having been so horrid and rude to someone on the Internet, today I sat down and finally finished this book.

Oh, American Eve. I was so primed and eager to fall in love with you! Over the years my father had mentioned Evelyn Nesbit's bizarre love triangle on afternoon walks from Penn Station or in front of the Farragut memorial in Madison Square Park.... (In case anyone reading this isn't familiar with...more
Some years ago, long before I started receiving student loan bills, I took a college course called "The History of American Architecture." Having been assured that this was a humanities course, and that no engineering or mathematics would be involved, I settled in to learn about gables, cornices, and dentils.

My professor was intensely passionate about the subject. He took us on a walking tour of Omaha, Nebraska, in a vain attempt to convince us that Omaha had interesting architecture. Once, he...more
The first thrid reads like a romance novel, if the author cut out half the redundant sentences she would loose about 30 pgs from the whole book. Also it was like the author wrote this book while constantly using her thesaurus. I was reminded of an English professor who used two many adjectives to explain one point, so the style starts to wear down the reader to almost boredom. The book really picks up after the first 130 pages then the story takes off. The ending is really packed with facts as i...more
I have read about many great people who had many great gifts including courage, vision, and persistence among others. Evelyn Nesbit had however, what I consider, a rare quality. The quality is: being seen almost universally as beautiful. This is an attribute that I believe most people would love to have. But being so beautiful is not always a blessing as Evelyn Nesbit would discover.

Evelyn had a normal early child hood in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. She evidently had a wonderful father who was m...more
It has some pretty "poppy" writing. For example, I am not fond of how Ms. Uruburu's sentences end. But then there's just one more thing.

Sex. A one-word sentence like that is too melodramatic a device to employ in a serious history book.

And extended metaphors equating 1900 to the Garden of Eden are very pretty, but here I feel Ms. Uruburu succumbed to some fork-tongued serpent's sophistry in introducing this forbidden fruit to the verdant prelapsarian prose that might otherwise have characterized...more
Jun 01, 2008 Annie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like true crime
Shelves: nonfiction
I have been enthralled with the Evelyn Nesbit story for years and was very excited to read this biography to learn what was really what, and who was really who.

Paula Uruburu is certainly the expert on Evelyn Nesbit, her terrible story and why it's been fascinating to so many of the morbidly curious. I have to say that her writing style vacillates between bombastic and cloying - a little too much and a little too little.

I also had a hard time with the fact that Uruburu completely overlooked some...more
Paula Uruburu
May 27, 2008 Paula Uruburu added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
It is reviewed in the April 2008 Vogue, May O!, May 11th LA Times. It's in the June 1st New York Times Summer Reads Book Review. You can hear my podcast with the Washington Post BookTalk on their website.
I was fascinated by Evelyn Nesbit's story after seeing a television documentary about the Thaw/White trial a few years ago (American Experience: Murder of the Century). What a joy it is to now have this sad, dramatic life explored in depth. The overall tone is very sympathetic to Evelyn, while maintaining a critical eye on the facts, whether they play in her favor or not. The narrative flows in an easy, conversational manner, often reading more like a novel than nonfiction, but this only serves...more
American Eve by Paula Uruburu is the quintessential documentation of the first "crime of the century" which occurred in 1906. This painstakingly researched book on the murder of the famous gilded age architect, Stanford White, by Harry K. Thaw, the playboy son of a multi-millionaire pious Pittsburgh family. The murder centers on the honor and affections of Evelyn Nesbit to whom Harry was married at the time of the murder. Evelyn, as a young girl, found herself in the position of possessing an ex...more
Jun 21, 2008 Rose rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rick
In turn of the century New York, Pennsylvania-born Florence Evelyn Nesbit was a famous teen beauty. Her waterfall of dark red hair, heart-shaped face, and expression of unawakened sexuality put her in hot demand as a model, therefore her image graced calendars, sheet music covers, and printed ads. Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery used one of Nesbit's photos as inspiration for the heroine of her bestseller "Anne of Green Gables". She shone in the Floradora chorus and her stage-door admirers i...more
Young Evelyn Nesbit was raised in poverty and brought to New York City by a really horrible mother who left her to become a millionaire's mistress and later another's wife. The decadence of the era where the young model and showgirl became the face of womanhood for her generation led to a tragedy and media circus.

This was an interesting book in many ways. It is a period of American history I know little about for one. Though I have heard of Stanford White and his architectural accomplishments,...more
A biography of Evelyn Nesbit, the beauty who became the symbol of the Gilded Age. Often 'beauties of the age' don't stand the test of time, but Evelyn is just as beautiful now as she was considered to be back in 1901. At 16, Evelyn became one of the first 'super models'. At 21, Evelyn became the center of the 'crime of the century' when her husband Harry Thayer murdered the famous architect Stanford White, who had been her lover at the tender age of 16.

White later would be vilified as a man who...more
Lolly's Library
3.5 stars


Evelyn Nesbit. Look at her. No wonder men desired her and women wanted to be her. She was not only the first "It" girl, she was the template for the modern woman. Take away the trappings and her face could grace the covers of today's tabloids and magazines.

Breezy, gossipy, intimate, and casual, American Eve tells the tragic and riveting tale of America's first pin-up girl, Evelyn Nesbit – artist's model, showgirl, Gibson Girl – her involvement with Stanford White, literally the architec...more
Edgar Allan
Paula Uruburu’s AMERICAN EVE: EVELYN NESBIT, STANFORD WHITE, THE BIRTH OF THE “IT” GIRL AND THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY is a first-rate, spirited and entertaining chronicle involving sex, celebrity, murder, media frenzy and a dead hippo.

Uruburu’s exhilarating tale begins in NYC during the final hours of 1899—an “Eden” where Nesbit, the titular Eve and “Little Sphinx,” rises from poverty and obscurity to become the preeminent model and pin-up girl of the day. Part Ophelia, part Salome, the inscrutab...more
L Greyfort
May 14, 2008 L Greyfort rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy true crime, social & popular history, "American Experience" on PBS
Shelves: biography, history

Just finished this - what an absorbing book! Feel Like I have to reacclimate to the 21st century!

While I knew the bare outlines of the story, the extent of the detail here is extraordinary. Ten years of research, thought, writing & editing have really paid off.

What makes this rendering of the history so arresting is how Paula has gotten inside the heads and hearts of all the protagonists. You must decide for yourself how much blame is be assigned to each of them, and who the good and bad gu...more
Jeanie Ng
This is a wonderful story of a young girl's survival during the Gilded Age. I learned that even girls have to work hard in order to succeed, regardless of the time period they live in. And sometimes, there are forces beyond their control that oppress their very existence.
Mimi Johnson
What's the Point?

While Uruburu gives a good and interesting overview of this period in history, I can't figure out why she chose to pluck Nesbit from obscurity. As many feminist academics writing today desire to recover women's stories from misrepresentation, and I applaud this kind of work, Evelyn Nesbit is basically a cypher and the author offers no reasons why we should care about her story other than to sympathize with her exploitation by powerful men at the turn of the century.

The narratio...more
Whatsherface married whatshisface, and they get their own television speical this fall. Neither one seems to have done anything to earn the fame or the reality show. But hey, at least whatsherface is better looking than Paris Hilton.

Society obessess about celebrities, even when they have done nothing to earn thier celebrity. Even those of us who look down on the gossip magazines have our weakness (Who cares about the earthquake as long as Will and Jada are fine!). We like putting them on an impo...more
I do love biographies about people who were ahead of their' time, and Evelyn Nesbit was one of those ladies who belonged in this era and not at the turn of the century! That's for sure! "American Eve (And The Longest Title Ever)" by Paula Uruburu was a just "alright" biography.

For those who are not familiar with Miss Evelyn Nesbit, she was essentially the world's first well-know top model. Starting at such a young age, her stunning face and beauty caught the publics attention and she was at the...more
This book was very easy to read for someone who doesn't normally read nonfiction. I don't normally pick up biographies, but I saw this on a friend's Goodreads page and I was struck by it. I have always loved the history of the Gilded Age and decided to give this one a try. Evelyn Nesbit had a life that I can only call tragic. The author is assuredly "on Evelyn's side", using Evelyn's age and naivete to excuse the awful mistakes that she made. And I think that it is a fair assumption. It is an en...more
Jul 28, 2009 Graceann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: true crime buffs, gilded age enthusiasts
Recommended to Graceann by: joan myers
Shelves: history
Paula Uruburu has set the standard for meticulous research and readable prose with regard to the murder of Stanford White by Harry K. Thaw back in 1906. The Crime of the Century continues to fascinate.

Uruburu evokes the feel and the mores of the Gilded Age, and the limited options available to women in this period of history. Evelyn Nesbit was a phenomenally beautiful girl who became an artist's model, and later chorine, in glittering New York. This is where Stanford White first noticed her. He...more
Who were Ryland Phillips, James Carroll Beckwith, Frederick S. Church if not Minor American Artists. Art is a minor thing. Burial Customs are more important. Lecherous men in studios, decaying creatures with turkish tapestry pillows.

American Eve was 16 when she showed up with her down and out mom and brother, living three in a room. Who needs all these cautionary tales? Girls take their chances and girls chance their takes.

You either are a saint or you are not a saint.

There is nothing you can...more
A few things struck me while reading this, first and foremost of which was, "Evelyn Nesbit was a good writer." She didn't write this book, I know, but she's quoted out of her two memoirs in the book a lot, and the woman could write. I may seek out one of those books, although they may be hard to find.

She was also the smartest person in the cast of people in her life. Stanford White (the murder victim in the Evelyn Nesbit crime we're all vaguely aware of but probably don't remember the names) was...more
The heartbreaking story of Evelyn Nesbit at the turn of the century. At a time when American opinions were changing as to wealth, class, sex and women's rights, Evelyn found herself torn, left to defend herself from two unscrupulous men and the unforgiving public. Uruburu wrote a fascinating but touching account of Evelyn's life, focusing on the events leading up to the murder of Stanford White.

I am impressed by the research Uruburu put into this story as well as how sensitively she handled it....more
At the turn of the 20th century Evelyn Nesbit was a teenage beauty who modeled for famous artists and photographers and was a Broadway showgirl. At the age of 15 she became the mistress of the famous architect Stanford White who was 47. Later on she would marry Harry Thaw an unbalanced Pittsburg millionaire. After learning White had "spoiled" Nesbit, Thaw became insanely jealous. On June 25, 1906 Thaw murdered White at Madison Square Garden. (Ironically White was the designer of the Garden.) The...more
The history of Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, Harry Thaw, et al. is fascinating. The way in which Paula Uruburu tells it is not. Her writing is mawkish and florid, and some passages read as if she is imitating the style of a dime novel.

The combined atrocities of Stanford White and Harry Thaw on the teen-aged Evelyn are horrifying, and instead of seeking to provide a more nuanced explanation of these people's motives in this story, Uruburu plays up the sentimental, superficial details. Ultimatel...more
The story was interesting, however, I felt the author's run on sentences and writing style took so much away from the story. I found that by the time I finally finished the paragraph, I had lost what the author was trying to say. Also, the author jumps around quite a bit in the beginning. This is fine for the first chapter - as kind of an introduction, yet she continues jumping in the second chapter. I would love to edit this book!
AMAZING. Shocking! This was just a jaw-droppingly fabulous read. I read Ragtime a while ago, and remembered Evelyn Nesbit as being a minor character and thought, huh maybe I should pick this up. Plus I love the Progressive Era, this should be fun. Wow.

There were so many interesting themes about gender, media frenzy, virginity, youth and beauty, domination and manipulation, and comically evil in-laws. Let me just say that the gender politics in this country go so far back and it is just so fucked...more
Aug 19, 2008 Julie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Julie by: NYTBR
It is rare (for me) to read a biography and not be able to put it down. I dragged this hardcover around the city with me --pushed my daughter on the swings, stood on the subway, walked my dog all the while drinking in American Eve. I loved the style, the story, the photos. This is a fascinating story that could not have been told better.
An unbelievable story about one of the most sought after women in the world, Evelyn Nesbit, and the sensational murder that rocked NYC at the turn of the century. It celebrates the incredible history, celebrity, architecture, and culture of New York, and the beginning of modernday publicity. Fantastic book.
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Review on Examiner 1 8 Nov 20, 2012 03:39PM  
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Nice news to share—The New York Times Book Review will be featuring AMERICAN EVE in Paperback Row in the May 10th issue.

My book, AMERICAN EVE (Riverhead Penguin) is a biography of the first "It" girl Evelyn Nesbit and her role in the crime of the century. An English Prof. at Hofstra University, I love the Gilded Age,...more
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