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Sin in the Second City: 07/13/08
"I'm getting Everleighed tonight." (p. 22) That quote, part slogan and part red light district slang sums up Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott best.
This well researched book with an ample bibliography and notes section covers the rise and fall of the Everleigh Club in Chicago. As there are so many people of interest on both sides of the issue (those running the brothels and those trying to close them down) that the Abbot includes her own three page cast of characters.
At the start of each short chapter, Abbott includes a photograph or illustration from the time period. They are all captioned: either with the original caption or with relevant information for the upcoming chapter. These old pictures were my favorite part of the book. I wish the cover art could have been taken from one of these instead of being a stock photo of an unknown woman.
The strength and weakness of Sin in the Second City stems from the same source: its abundant information. As the timeline progresses and I'm guessing source material becomes more reliable and readily available, it becomes more difficult to keep track of the events while reading. As a source of research material Sin in the Second City will be very valuable. As pleasure reading, it needs to be taken slowly and passages reread for full comprehension.
If you haven't read Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, I suggest reading it as a companion book to Sin in the Second City. Although fiction, it helps fill in the gaps of what Chicago was like during the Everleigh sister's stay.