Pete's Reviews > Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul

Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott
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's review
Oct 20, 2014

it was ok
bookshelves: 2007, usa
Read in August, 2007

Abbott's book is an entertaining enough read, and has plenty of interesting tidbits of Chicago history, but is nothing spectacular. It's interesting to me how open prostitution was in the not-so-distant past, and one has to wonder if the current condition is an improvement. I was walking on Lower Wacker the other day, and there were some miserable looking hookers. It was dark and dank and depressing. Considering our apparent inability to abolish the oldest profession, I wonder: is the false glamour described in this book preferable to forcing the whole industry underground?
Unfortunately, I found it impossible to identify with or sympathize with any of the leading characters herein. The religious people are too religious, the gangsters and politicians too loosely described (the description of pre-Capone gangster Big Jim Colosimo barreling forward with a pot full of his "red ink" [pasta sauce] being the most endearing descrption of a major player), and the madams too cold.
Does anybody else think that there should be six possible stars, so that three could be "It's okay?" Because this book is not more than half-good, but it's not half-bad, either.
I dedicate this review to Hippie Sara, who demanded that I write more reviews and stop filling up her inbox with updates concerning the frequent reorganizations of my book shelves. After this review, I shall and remember to uncheck the "add to update feed" box.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Sarah G. Wow that's a review worthy of the New Yorker! And I do enjoy the book updates, so don't uncheck the box. For what reason would you decide to stroll down Lower Wacker? It might be the one of the most frightening places in Middle Earth.

Pete I was on Lower Wacker trying to save souls. It's my way.

message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 30, 2007 11:39PM) (new)

Hey for the record,

3 stars *is* Half, insofar as it represents the exact middle. That is, if you rate something 3, there are two ratings on either side of 3, so it is the middle:

1 2 3 4 5

see, three is the middle

You are probably thinking that 2.5 represents half, but this would only be true if you could give something 0 stars, but you can't, the lowest rating is 1. so, a rating of 5 stars with the lowest rating equal to 1 is the same as a rating system going from 0 to 4. here it is clear that the midpoint would be 2. However, confusion can arise because in a 0 to 4 rating system the "highest score/2 = 50%" works, but in a 1-5 system, it does not.

If there were a 6 star rating system, then 3 would not represent half, 3.5 would, and it would be impossible to give something a "50%" rating.

1 2 3 4 5 6

message 4: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Hah, I only recently discovered the "add to update feed" check box. I was wondering why you had abandoned goodreads yet somehow kept updating your books.

I haven't read this book. Can't tell by your review what *you* think of prostitution. Is it euphemistic to call is the "oldest profession"?

Pete It is euphemistic to call it "the oldest profession." As for my feelings on prostitution, I don't think that money-for-sex is inherently wrong, although that transaction tends to be more ugly in reality than as a rational idea. It's funny how often people flirt with the ideals of prostitution in their every day life, all the while condemning it. Just because it isn't legally defined as prostitution doesn't mean that it isn't. Does that make sense? What do you think of prostitution?

message 6: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! I actually thought about your question for a long time...not 2 years long despite the dates but for a while after the initial asking. I came to the conclusion that I couldn't put a value judgement on prostitution. My guts and knees say it's bad, but actual prostitutes seem to give the rainbow of answers when interviewed. I guess the situation and perspective of the prostitute her/himself is the most important factor. If they are comfortable and safe, able to financially support themselves, not feeling bad in their own minds, then who am I to condemn. It just seems that much of prostitution is not like that (Thailand, etc.).

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