Sunday, August 12, 2007

Reading About Sin in Chicago

New on our list of Books We Hope We Can Read Someday is Karen Abbott's Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys and the Battle for America's Soul, published by Random House.

The book, reviewed in today's New York Times Book Review, tells the story of the Windy City's Everleigh Club, a high-class brothel that operated in the early 20th century. The house was operated by sisters Ada and Minna Everleigh, who, Abbott says, tried to make prostitution "as decent an endeavor as possible."

They largely succeeded and got rich, Abbott says, but they also ran afoul of reformers concerned about the rise of white slavery and the corruption of innocent young women.

As the book's subtitle indicates, the Everleigh Club illustrates one aspect of America's long struggle over values. To this day, Abbott writes, politicians are scared of votes that place them on the wrong side of the values debate.

The Times reviewer, however, notes that Abbott's history of Chicago sin concludes on a "negative" note: The customers always seem to outlast the reformers.

1 comment:

Tulsan said...

Politics is only the second oldest profession.