Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 3.5
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(11)

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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 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 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 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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  • 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 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2010

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    Posted January 15, 2011

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    Posted June 13, 2013

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    Posted July 13, 2011

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    Posted December 11, 2010

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    Posted April 17, 2011

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    Posted August 1, 2011

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    Posted December 28, 2010

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    Posted December 21, 2011

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    Posted December 10, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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