Customer Reviews for

American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee

Average Rating 3.5
( 78 )
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5 Star

(24)

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(22)

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(11)

2 Star

(7)

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(14)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Riveting and Sad

I enjoyed this biography for the most part, though it included a little more about the Minsky family history than I was looking for. Also, despite the author having talked quite a bit to June Havoc, I didn't always get a handle on how the two sisters felt toward one ano...
I enjoyed this biography for the most part, though it included a little more about the Minsky family history than I was looking for. Also, despite the author having talked quite a bit to June Havoc, I didn't always get a handle on how the two sisters felt toward one another. Still, the book gave much better insight into the thoroughly dysfuncational family of Rose, Gypsy and June. The Broadway show Gypsy, and its many performances across the country in smaller, local theaters creates such a whimsical picture of a tough, but still lovable mother, Rose, and the harsh realities of the person she really was shows through in this book. After reading about the (possible?) murder of Ginny Augustin, I couldn't help but wonder how this forgotten woman's family must feel about the often lighthearted legend that surrounds Gypsy Rose Lee.

posted by JustMyTwoCents on April 4, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

What did Gypsy Rose Lee ever do to Karen Abbott? The author drives home the message that Miss Lee had no talent. That her heroine could captivate an audience for decades, write two best sellers, appear on Broadway, in films, television, nightclubs, entertain our troupes...
What did Gypsy Rose Lee ever do to Karen Abbott? The author drives home the message that Miss Lee had no talent. That her heroine could captivate an audience for decades, write two best sellers, appear on Broadway, in films, television, nightclubs, entertain our troupes in Viet Nam and single-handedly raised her son in a time when most middle-class women worked only in their homes, apparently is not proof enough of Gypsy's abilities. The most creative of writing exhibited in this book occurs when Ms. Abbott has Gypsy's mother, Rose, powder her face and clutch a wad of tissues in her fist in 1918. Rose must have been a magician since facial tissues originated in 1924. Didn't anyone check the "research"? The obscene quote included at the beginning of Chapter 23 is attributed to Otto Preminger. When one looks it up in the Notes and Sources section, one discovers that it is no more than hearsay told to the author by a former employee of Mr. Preminger (whom Abbot interviewed in 2008 about Mr. Preminger's relationship with Gypsy Rose Lee in 1944). This is the shabbiest of reporting. Much of the information in this work was derived from interviews with the 94 year-old June Havoc, Gypsy's sister. After more than 40 years, could June's memories be somewhat clouded or less than accurate? They certainly are at odds with the numerous letters Miss Lee received from her sister and mother written over decades that are now housed in The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Was the chapter scrambling of time periods done to obscure how much had come from Gypsy, Early Havoc , More Havoc and Gypsy & Me? Without these sources and the Minsky pages this would have been a slim volume indeed. Given the choice I would rather read the originals again.

posted by Chuck-Mosberger on December 28, 2010

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

    What did Gypsy Rose Lee ever do to Karen Abbott? The author drives home the message that Miss Lee had no talent. That her heroine could captivate an audience for decades, write two best sellers, appear on Broadway, in films, television, nightclubs, entertain our troupes in Viet Nam and single-handedly raised her son in a time when most middle-class women worked only in their homes, apparently is not proof enough of Gypsy's abilities. The most creative of writing exhibited in this book occurs when Ms. Abbott has Gypsy's mother, Rose, powder her face and clutch a wad of tissues in her fist in 1918. Rose must have been a magician since facial tissues originated in 1924. Didn't anyone check the "research"? The obscene quote included at the beginning of Chapter 23 is attributed to Otto Preminger. When one looks it up in the Notes and Sources section, one discovers that it is no more than hearsay told to the author by a former employee of Mr. Preminger (whom Abbot interviewed in 2008 about Mr. Preminger's relationship with Gypsy Rose Lee in 1944). This is the shabbiest of reporting. Much of the information in this work was derived from interviews with the 94 year-old June Havoc, Gypsy's sister. After more than 40 years, could June's memories be somewhat clouded or less than accurate? They certainly are at odds with the numerous letters Miss Lee received from her sister and mother written over decades that are now housed in The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Was the chapter scrambling of time periods done to obscure how much had come from Gypsy, Early Havoc , More Havoc and Gypsy & Me? Without these sources and the Minsky pages this would have been a slim volume indeed. Given the choice I would rather read the originals again.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2011

    Very Disappointed-not recommended

    I couldn't wait for this book to come out as it was my choice for our little book club but was sadly disappointed in it. It does not go into any real depth about Gypsy and that was what I was hoping for. It also goes into too much details about side characters. At times I felt more detail about them rather than Gypsy. I was not alone in my feelings as the other 3 individuals said very similar things. I would not recommend this book.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Only A Must Read Cuz I Paid For It

    I started reading this book in the store on my Nook. The first few chapters were okay and I thought the book would get better as I kept reading it. The book didn't get better. Too many flashback episides with no real depth into Rose's character. Should have called this book Mama Rose since she was the nost interesting and complex character in the book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2011

    Riveting and Sad

    I enjoyed this biography for the most part, though it included a little more about the Minsky family history than I was looking for. Also, despite the author having talked quite a bit to June Havoc, I didn't always get a handle on how the two sisters felt toward one another. Still, the book gave much better insight into the thoroughly dysfuncational family of Rose, Gypsy and June. The Broadway show Gypsy, and its many performances across the country in smaller, local theaters creates such a whimsical picture of a tough, but still lovable mother, Rose, and the harsh realities of the person she really was shows through in this book. After reading about the (possible?) murder of Ginny Augustin, I couldn't help but wonder how this forgotten woman's family must feel about the often lighthearted legend that surrounds Gypsy Rose Lee.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 22, 2011

    a good read

    book so different than the story on Broadway or movie. I thought the sisters never communicated and that Gypsy never took it it all off.
    Gives you a good look at a very disfunctional family.
    It is a very interesting history of the Minzky Brothers and their input to the "business."
    I enjoyed it very much.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2011

    Amazing!

    We all think we know Gypsy, June, and Mama Rose from the film GYPSY, but we're all wrong. This fantastic book is full of history & life, love & lust, hate & revenge. It brings to life one of the worlds most famous, and infamous, women, takes off her g-string and pasties, leaving her standing bare in front of us, revealing her more than the Minsky's did, and we love her even more. I have adored Karen Abbotts' work since I first read Sin in the Second City. Her works intertwine history with storytelling, revealing the real persona of each character, without ever diminishing them. AMERICAN ROSE is a brilliant look at not only Gypsy, but the Minsky brothers, and the history of burlesque. You could not tell one story without the other, and Karen Abbott does just that.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    LET HER ENTERTAIN YOU ONE MORE TIME

    You've undoubtedly heard the buzz about Barbra Streisand doing a remake of the film Gypsy -some comments are positive, some negative, and others ho-hum. What is not at all ho-hum and very positive is AMERICAN ROSE read by the very talented Bernadette Dunne and penned by NY Times best-selling author Karen Abbott (Sin in the Second City).

    With a wealth of stage experience (The Kennedy Center, The Washington Shakespeare Company, etc) Dunne delivers a masterful voice performance bringing to life the characters with whom many of us are familiar - Gypsy, sister June and, of course, the indomitable Mama Rose. Dunne easily segues between characters, clearly delineating each as the story unfolds.

    Abbott begins AMERICAN ROSE in 1940 when Gypsy was about to perform at the World's Fair, surely a landmark in her career. We learn that landmark was earned by Gypsy herself who excelled at self-promotion and skillful at creating the public persona she wanted the world to see. She was also a mistress of illusion or as Abbott puts it "....she knows that what she hides is as much of a reward as what she deigns to reveal."

    After the World's Fair the author takes us back in time to 1910 Seattle shortly before Gypsy was born (dates are a bit hazy as Mama Rose (Rose Hovick) didn't mind forging a few documents re her daughters' ages). Following Gypsy's early stage training we meet some fascinating men who were in and out of her life - Billy Minsky, Mike Todd.

    Much of what is found in AMERICAN ROSE may well be remembered from the hit musical Gypsy. Nonetheless Abbott is apt at supplying details that could not have been included in the Broadway stage presentation and comparing Gypsy's days with that time in America. Give a listen - let Gypsy entertain you.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An excellent story and, better yet, a wonderful read

    Most all books have only two ingredients: a story and the words chosen to tell that story. For sniffing out a narrative to mine for interest, anyone with the time and inclination for the research would find a barrel for a shooting gallery and big fat fish for targets in the life story of the most famous striptease artist of all time, Gypsy Rose Lee. So all that's left to distinguish a writer in the telling of Gypsy's tale are the words.

    And this is where Karen Abbott soars.

    This book takes a story that was always going to be fascinating and bawdy and fraught, and makes it lyrical. To bolster Gypsy's nimble sidestepping of her own quantifiability, Ms. Abbott nails in place a richly textured backdrop of the wane of vaudeville, the rise and fall of burlesque, The Great Depression, and the American home front in and after World War II. With her excellent words, facts become patterns and the feel of an era is transformed into the color we recognize in our own lives, but seem to relegate to sepia when we dial back the time machine. The effect is that, from here on out, no pale dry history of this time in America will cut it.

    No, I take it back. The times of Gypsy are not nailed in this book, they're pinned, as surely and elegantly as one of Gypsy's skirts. And as in a striptease, what's revealed in the folds of this vibrant garment, are the reasons behind what we know of Gypsy Rose Lee and the whys of what we cannot know.

    In choosing a non-linear format, Ms. Abbott offers a natural feel to the way we learn about Gypsy: a personal, intimate conversation; the organic way we discover a friend or a rival, or sometimes even an enemy - a story here, a rumor there, one anecdote crossing decades to a related point that explains what came before or where it all wound up.

    The combination of Karen Abbott's skills as a writer and the endlessly riveting trials and triumphs of a national icon, makes 'American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee', a easy addition to the must-read list.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2013

    EF

    Woo.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2013

    A good study of New York 1930 - 1956.

    The book is realy three stories: Gypsy's, the Minsky family, the history of burleque. Unfortunatly it jumps around.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2013

    Disjointed

    I think there might have been a good story here, but the jumping back and forth between decades was distracting. I do not understand why an author employs that technique.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2013

    Johnna

    Hey savannah sorry my dad found out that i was chatting and got mad! :-( so wats up.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2013

    WASTE OF MONEY!!

    This is the first time that I have purchased a book that I wanted to ask B & Noble for a refund. This book deals more with the Minsky brothers than the great Gypsy Rose Lee. She deserved better. This author should be ashamed!!!!!! No stars because it sucks!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    great read

    good book; lots of back and forth to keep you on you toes.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 27, 2011

    must read

    beautifully written. i didnt want it to end

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2013

    Interesting......

    This book shatter the glamorized life of Gypsy Rose Lee that was portrayed by the musical. Odds are, it was as realistic a tale as we will ever get of the life and struggles of a truly dysfunctional family.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2013

    Sydney

    I dont need to

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    For the love history

    Karen Abbott is a great storyteller who is re-inventing the biography.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2013

    Boarder

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2013

    Steel room

    Here.

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