Upstairs Girls
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Upstairs Girls

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  103 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Prostitutes make up one of the most engaging chapters in the story of the American West. Upstairs Girls opens a window on the lives of these women for hire--why they turned to prostitution, who they worked for, and what their lives were like. Author and historian Michael Rutter offers a thorough history of prostitution in the West, with chapters on notorious madams, the hi...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published October 30th 2005 by Farcountry Press (first published September 1st 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 251)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Follow all my reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Rutter’s text is absolutely void of emotion. He failed these women like all the historians and the newspaper men before him. He defines the daughters of joy by their role in the flesh trade, exploring their business dealings, their notable lovers and the memoirs of their clients rather than the women themselves. Maybe Rutter was too intimidated by the subject matter to really explore the emotional profiles of the working girls. Ma...more
This book told a fascinating history of women in the frontier west and why so many either chose or simply ended up in prostitution. Even the town I live in was mentioned and I asked my Mom if they got it right. Everyone knew where the brothel was back in the 40s and 50s and earlier. When the Pill came along many of the shops were closed down because wives and girlfriends could now put out without fear of pregnancy. Kind of weird to think that one little thing like that would change so much.
Jenny Lovering
The information was interesting...but the writing was repetitive and choppy to the point of annoying.
There's a whole lot that's good about this book. Who writes a mass market book about such a relatively obscure (read: fascinating!) subject? Long passages lend context at the start of each section. Details about railroad camps and a larger sense of Chinese immigration pre-Chinese Exclusion Act were impressive. The chapter on occupational hazards, most notably venereal disease, both fascinated me and had me squirming in my chair (with enchantingly grotesque photos!). There's definitely a lot to l...more
I agree with other reviewers here. The writing is repetitive and choppy. And there are some notable exceptions from the research regarding children of prostitutes.

Still, the asides to outlaws, noted historical figures, photos, and added features give the book sufficient interest for a novice reader.

I assume that others have made more extensive research regarding the history and practice of prostitution and, if interested, this may not be your best resource. It's a good place to start, though. W...more
Great information but such poor writing! This is a history book yet the author uses such statements as "It is obvious to people that..." or "As any student of history should know..." He is often repetitive and displays a lack of experience writing non-fiction. A pet peeve was the misspelling of actress Lillie Langtry's name as "Lily." Overall though, I would recommend it because I learned a lot and it was an interesting read. He clearly loves the subject matter and Old West folklore - it comes a...more
Michael Rutter gives an excellent history lesson of the wild west. History about some of the most notorious madams and their girls. Famous outlaws and gunslingers and the women they loved. It gives you an understanding of why and how women entered the "world's oldest profession". I felt much heartache and sadness as I read some of the stories, but there are other parts that will make you laugh. Interesting facts and fascinating stories if you like history and the wild west.
I enjoy the history of the west and liked reading this book. I just wish there were more information on the ends of these ladies lives.
Feb 05, 2013 Zazzu rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
This book never really got into very good detail. It gives several biographies of notable shady ladies, but they all feel rather rushed and incomplete.

This book has a fascinating subject, but it never really gives enough information on what made these women go into such a hellish profession, what their lives were really like and what happened to the ones who didn't die of drugs, murder or suicide....did any find "honest" jobs after?

Great nonfiction read. Little information though on letters from women, but then I can see how this would have been hard to find. This is one of the better books on the subject and leaves out all that folksy crap, moves away from the cliches and delves into some fascinating madams who were politically and progressively way more ahead of their times then most men.
A good introduction into the world of prostitution during the gold rush, with explanations of high end brothels to the lower "crib houses." My favourite part was the series of profiles of individual madams or famous prostitutes. I love Gold Rush stories and history and I'm happy to keep this book as a reference.
Mrs. Cyberhobo Kuhn
This book is so badly written I can't read it. It's very possible that this is a freshman's term paper. Too bad--such an interesting socio-economic cultural phenomenon. Should I have known from the title that it would be insulting? The author uses the word "girls" throughout the book.
Good behind-the-scenes stories of the wild west, all revolving around the prostitutes of the times. Most of them are only known to history because of their association with famous outlaws, so there's some good dirt on famous wild west men here too.
I liked the information in this book, but it read like an undergrad history paper, in a bad way. It still needed some editing for punctuation and flow. And definitely a star knocked off for using "insure" instead of "ensure."
LOVING THIS BOOK. After staying for two weeks at 'the brothel' in Helper, Utah, it is interesting to learn some of the real history of prostitution in the early American West.
May 16, 2012 Monique is currently reading it
Loving this book. Found it on the way home from Montana during a business trip and have been slowly reading it in between my legalese.
some interesting information in here but as others have mentioned, this was not a well written book.
Agree with other reviews. Interesting subject-matter, poorly written.
David Grasse
Not the most scholarly book I have read on the subject, but entertaining.
Really interesting look at prostitution out west. I couldn't put it down.
Apr 24, 2009 J.M. marked it as wishlist
Recommended for me by Amazon based on my previous purchases.
Lisa Yvonne
May 21, 2012 Lisa Yvonne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lisa by:
Lots of interesting stories from the Old West.
Meh. For a stimulating *ahem* topic... meh.
Jodotha marked it as to-read
May 22, 2014
Roxana marked it as to-read
May 20, 2014
Kendra marked it as to-read
May 19, 2014
Jodi marked it as to-read
May 06, 2014
Marie marked it as to-read
May 03, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
More about Michael Rutter...
Bedside Book of Bad Girls: Outlaw Women of the American West Wild Bunch Women Myths and Mysteries of the Old West Outlaw Tales of Utah: True Stories of Utah's Most Famous Rustlers, Robbers, and Bandits Fun with the Family Utah

Share This Book