Beale Street Dynasty: Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis

Beale Street Dynasty: Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis

by Preston Lauterbach


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Beale Street Dynasty: Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis by Preston Lauterbach

The vivid history of Beale Street—a lost world of swaggering musicians, glamorous madams, and ruthless politicians—and the battle for the soul of Memphis.Following the Civil War, Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, thrived as a cauldron of sex and song, violence and passion. But out of this turmoil emerged a center of black progress, optimism, and cultural ferment. Preston Lauterbach tells this vivid, fascinating story through the multigenerational saga of a family whose ambition, race pride, and moral complexity indelibly shaped the city that would loom so large in American life.Robert Church, who would become “the South’s first black millionaire,” was a mulatto slave owned by his white father. Having survived a deadly race riot in 1866, Church constructed an empire of vice in the booming river town. He made a fortune with saloons, gambling, and—shockingly—white prostitution. But he also nurtured the militant journalism of Ida B. Wells and helped revolutionize American music through the work of composer W.C. Handy, the man who claimed to have invented the blues.In the face of Jim Crow, the Church fortune helped fashion the most powerful black political organization of the early twentieth century. Robert and his son, Bob Jr., bought and sold property, founded a bank, and created a park and auditorium for their people finer than the places whites had forbidden them to attend.However, the Church family operated through a tense arrangement with the Democrat machine run by the notorious E. H. “Boss” Crump, who stole elections and controlled city hall. The battle between this black dynasty and the white political machine would define the future of Memphis.Brilliantly researched and swiftly plotted, Beale Street Dynasty offers a captivating account of one of America’s iconic cities—by one of our most talented narrative historians.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393352139
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 03/07/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 781,633
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Preston Lauterbach is the author of Bluff City, Beale Street Dynasty, and The Chitlin Circuit, a Wall Street Journal and Boston Globe book of the year. He is a former visiting scholar at Rhodes College and a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Fellow. He lives near Charlottesville, Virginia.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I Birth of a Kingpin, 1866-1885

Chapter 1 There is no Yankee Doodle In Memphis 7

Chapter 2 A Promiscuous Running Fight 15

Chapter 3 A Frightful State of moral Darkness 31

Chapter 4 Birth of a Kingpin 41

Part II Birth of Beale, 1885-1892

Chapter 5 Dividing the Wages of Sin 55

Chapter 6 Contributions from Malefactors 75

Chapter 7 Free Speech, High Revelry, and Low Song 85

Chapter 8 The True Spark of Manhood 95

Part III Birth of the Blues, 1901-1918

Chapter 9 Red, Gray, and Blue 111

Chapter 10 Doctor Said It'd Kill Me, But He Didn't Say When 125

Chapter 11 Purifying the Moral Atmosphere 137

Chapter 12 The Gig 153

Chapter 13 We Gonna Barrelhouse Anyhow 169

Chapter 14 Like a Stone Cast into the Sea 179

Chapter 15 I'd Rather Be There Than Any Place I Know 197

Part IV The Lid, 1918-1940

Chapter 16 All the Pretty Girls Lived Good 215

Chapter 17 In a Class by Himself 233

Chapter 18 The Frolic 241

Chapter 19 The Unholy Combination 249

Chapter 20 Snitchin' Gambler Blues 261

Chapter 21 God's Chillun 271

Chapter 22 Within the Gates of Memphis 279

Chapter 23 A Boyle Festers 285

Chapter 24 This Is A White Man's Country 293

Epilogue 307

Acknowledgments 311

Notes 315

Index 337

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Beale Street Dynasty: Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally devoid of any character interest or presentation. It reads like a newspaper article (my apologies to newspaper articles).