"With this book, Karen Abbott declares herself the John le Carré of Civil War espionage, with the added benefit that the saga she tells is all true and beautifully researched. Her four protagonists, exuding charm, adept at skulduggery, take us on a sweeping and bloody jaunt across the Civil War landscape, into an intimate realm of warfare that will yield for even the most hard-core Civil War buff a wholly fresh perspective on those deadly days."
— Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts
"In the gripping book, Abbott tells the moving and fascinating story of four women who played unconventional roles during the Civil War... a remarkable story of passion, strength, and resilience."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott is a masterpiece of narrative storytelling, backed by impeccable research and extraordinary material. I was gripped by every page."
— Amanda Foreman, New York Times bestselling author of A World On Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War
“This inspiring collective biography reads like a novel while shedding some much-needed light on fascinating chapters in both Civil War and women’s history.”
"Abbott has performed an invaluable service by revealing in such vivid detail the extraordinary lives of these women who involved themselves so dangerously in the Civil War. This is that rare work of history that reads like a novel—and a really good one at that—and in which the truth is more thrilling than fiction."
— Michael Korda, New York Times bestselling author of Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero and Clouds of Glory
"Thrilling, illuminating, heart-pounding. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy reads like a crackling espionage novel and resonates as only the most compelling history can. Abbott brings to vivid life four extraordinary and audacious women, and runs glorious roughshod over all our traditional notions of the role of women in the Civil War."
— Megan Abbott, Edgar-award winning author of Dare Me and The Fever
"Karen Abbott's powerful narrative is first rate American history about a fascinating, little-known chapter of the Civil War, as well as a compulsive, thrilling saga of espionage. Brilliant storytelling, highly accessible, and impossible to put down."
— Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America.
"The subjects of Karen Abbott's gripping story Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy leap up— and almost off—the page… an irresistibly good tale of Civil War espionage and a reminder that the heroes of our history are often found in the most unexpected places."
— Deborah Blum, New York Times bestselling author of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York.
"Ian Fleming could not have invented better spies…nor have written about them with any more suspense.”
–Robert Hicks, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country
"Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy offers a riveting, fresh perspective on the most defining event in American history. Abbott takes us through secret missions and clandestine rendezvous to intensely realized scenes of the war's key battles, creating a rich, true world that captured me from the first line to the last. Beautifully written, meticulously researched, and paced like an edge-of-your-seat-novel---I love this big, ambitious, unstoppable book."
— Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of gods in Alabama and Someone Else's Love Story
"It is no small task for a writer to wade into the well-swum waters of the American Civil War and emerge with a book that manages to enhance the existing canon while holding the attention of casual readers and history buffs alike... Abbott's engaging prose is backed by dogged research that buoys the stories with delightful insights."
— Denise Kiernan, New York Times bestselling author of The Girls of Atomic City
"Karen Abbott's latest gem is a ticket to a dark and fascinating secret world. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy is a masterwork of suspenseful plots and unforgettable characters rendered in exacting, gorgeous detail—a brilliant new take on the heroines and villainesses of the Civil War."
— Lydia Netzer, author of the New York Times notable book Shine Shine Shine
"Sad, smart, brassy... the true story of the Queen of Burlesque is even weirder and wilder than the legend."
"[Karen Abbott's] portrait of the famed stripper... is both darker and more inspiring than the famed stripper's version of her life as filtered by Broadway or Hollywood."
— The Atlanta Journal Constitution
"The best biographies do more than detail the life of a subject—they completely embed the reader in that person’s life and mindset. They combine tenacious reporting with writing that belongs to a first-rate novelist. American Rose is the rare biography that captures the imagination and doesn’t let go. It would scare the bejeesus out of Gypsy Rose Lee, and it’s guaranteed to enthrall readers."
"Compelling... the dark side of the dazzling life."
— The Seattle Times
"With staggeringly in-depth research—and never before uncovered details about Gypsy Rose Lee’s life—Karen Abbott composes a story wrought with personal drama and insight into a dark era in American history. All the while, she never betrays Gypsy’s bawdy, whip-smart edge. (One chapter opens with a quote from controversial director Otto Preminger: 'I only fucked Gypsy Rose Lee once.') The story is as beguiling as it is surprisingly timeless. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said to Gypsy: 'May your bare ass always be shining.' "
"Karen Abbott unfolds Gypsy’s life story as a microcosm of 20th-century America, with a backdrop of Prohibition, the Depression, and both World Wars… enormously entertaining. The book, like its subject, is pretty sensational stuff."
"Not just the queen of burlesque, [Gypsy] was 'Dorothy Parker in a G-string,' as Karen Abbott dubs her in her rollicking new biography... which, through exhaustive research and new interviews with Gypsy's son and sister, peels away a few more shimmering layers to get to the woman behind the mystique."
— Vogue magazine
Click here for the full Vogue article about American Rose and Gypsy
"[American Rose] documents not only the ravenous nature of Gypsy's ambition but the people, places, and times that made its realization possible."
— The New Yorker
"Abbott creates a brainy striptease similar to the one her subject may have performed."
"At its core, American Rose is a haunting portrait of a woman... offering her audiences a sassy, confident self while making sure they would never know the damaged soul who created her."
— Los Angeles Times
"Imaginative and engaging… Abbott shares some fresh, intimate details as she develops two parallel narrative strands: the hand-to-mouth early years when Rose was plying the city-to-city vaudeville circuit with her child acts featuring her talented daughter, June, and the more gawky, reliable Louise; and the steady success of the Minsky brothers on the Lower East Side of New York City as they invested in a string of vaudeville theaters that gradually morphed into wildly successful burlesque houses. When June ran away (at age 13 to get married), Rose reinvented Louise as her last vestige of hope–and thus Gypsy Rose Lee made “her delicate, unclean break from the past.” Abbott’s work, cutting fluidly between decades and recreating dialogue, captures this dizzying, sullying, transformative era in America."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Abbott writes in a propulsive, witty style, jumping back and forth in chronology and limning a vivid portrait of Gypsy Rose Lee’s milieu, lovingly rendering the Tammany Hall politicians, gangsters, Algonquin Round Table habitués and theatrical promoters that constituted Lee’s world. Running concurrently with Lee’s story is that of the Minsky brothers, whose burlesque house became a New York institution and served as the setting for the introduction of Gypsy Rose Lee, the teasing, intellectual beauty with the razor-sharp instinct for what to reveal and what to hide. Lee’s success—she would publish novels, act in films and write an autobiography that would serve as inspiration for one of Broadway’s most enduring triumphs—was sweet, but Mama Rose, long after her death, would haunt her daring daughter to the grave. A fast-paced, funny, flavorful reckoning with a unique American icon."
— Kirkus Reviews
“Gypsy Rose Lee — Vaudevillian, stripper, writer, public figure, provocateur — lived a life that seemed utterly open and free. America thought they knew this complicated woman, whose story was told again and again on stage, screen, and page. But as Karen Abbott shows in her wonderful new book, Gypsy Rose was an intensely hidden, damaged, and brilliant star who almost no one really knew. American Rose is a fitting tribute to an amazing woman, telling her story beautifully while revealing as much about post-Depression America as it does about celebrity life. It’s cultural history at its best.”
—Rebecca Skloot, bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
“The story of Gypsy Rose Lee is the story of America itself: tumultuous, daring, devastating, thrilling, and relentlessly self-inventing. I was fascinated by Gypsy’s unusual power—over men, over women, over anything with breath in its body—and how creative she had to be, in 1935, to sell sexy without actually selling sex. Karen Abbott combines meticulous research with narrative drive to create a gripping page-turner that belongs on the shelves of history buffs and fiction fans alike.”
"Poetic... Abbott describes the Levee's characters in such detail that it's easy to mistake this meticulously researched history for literary fiction."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Lavish... Described with scrupulous concern for historical accuracy... an immensely readable book."
— The Wall Street Journal
"Assiduously researched... Even this book's minutiae makes for good storytelling."
— The New York Times
"[A] satisfyingly lurid tale... Karen Abbott has pioneered sizzle history... Change the hemlines, add 100 years, and the book could be filed under current affairs."
— USA Today
"[Abbott's] research enables the kind of vivid description à la fellow journalist Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City that makes what could be a dry historic account an engaging read."
— The Seattle Times
"A colorful history of old Chicago that reads like a novel... [a] compelling and eloquent story."
— The Atlanta Journal Constitution
"Once upon a time, Chicago had a world-class bordello called The Everleigh Club. Karen Abbott brings the opulent place and its raunchy era alive in a book that just might become this year's The Devil in the White City."
— Chicago Tribune Magazine (cover story)
"At last, a history book you can bring to the beach."