Ken'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
Dec 19, 2007

really liked it
Read in December, 2007

t’s definitely a picture of a fascinating era, when cities were new and the rules were just being established. It’s obviously heavily researched and filled with detail about its subject. But I do wish it had more scope, actually.

The author touches briefly on the story of boxer Jack Johnson and his visit to the Everleigh Club, where he met his future wife Belle Schreiber. I know others have written extensively on the subject, and i figured Abbott would give it at least a chapter. But she devotes about one short paragraph to his story.

A truly great nonfiction author would use the story of the Everleigh Club as a jumping-off point to tell the larger story of Chicago, and America, and American sexual mores, at the turn of the Century. Abbott doesn’t manage such breadth, confining herself to the somewhat more mundane story of the sisters and the bordello. It’s a good book, and I do recommend it … but I do feel that it could have been a lot more.
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