The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth

Category: Book
By (author): Levin, Josh
  HISTORY / United States / 20th Century
  HISTORY / Women
  SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Services
  TRUE CRIME / Hoaxes & Deceptions
Audience: general/trade
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Published: April 2020
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 432
Size: 8.25in x 5.50in x 1.12in
Our Price:
$ 23.99
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography
In this critically acclaimed true crime tale of "welfare queen" Linda Taylor, a Slate editor reveals a "wild, only-in-America story" of political manipulation and murder (Attica Locke, Edgar Award-winning author).
On the South Side of Chicago in 1974, Linda Taylor reported a phony burglary, concocting a lie about stolen furs and jewelry. The detective who checked it out soon discovered she was a welfare cheat who drove a Cadillac to collect ill-gotten government checks. And that was just the beginning: Taylor, it turned out, was also a kidnapper, and possibly a murderer. A desperately ill teacher, a combat-traumatized Marine, an elderly woman hungry for companionship -- after Taylor came into their lives, all three ended up dead under suspicious circumstances. But nobody -- not the journalists who touted her story, not the police, and not presidential candidate Ronald Reagan -- seemed to care about anything but her welfare thievery.
Growing up in the Jim Crow South, Taylor was made an outcast because of the color of her skin. As she rose to infamy, the press and politicians manipulated her image to demonize poor black women. Part social history, part true-crime investigation, Josh Levin's mesmerizing book, the product of six years of reporting and research, is a fascinating account of American racism, and an exposé of the "welfare queen" myth, one that fueled political debates that reverberate to this day.
The Queen tells, for the first time, the fascinating story of what was done to Linda Taylor, what she did to others, and what was done in her name. "In the finest tradition of investigative reporting, Josh Levin exposes how a story that once shaped the nation's conscience was clouded by racism and lies. As he stunningly reveals in this "invaluable work of nonfiction," the deeper truth, the messy truth, tells us something much larger about who we are (David Grann, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon).
Review Quote*Longlisted for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography The Root's Favorite Reads of 2019 Washington Post's 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction Boston Globe's Best Books of 2019 Buzzfeed's Best Books of the Year Mother Jones's Favorite Books of 2019 The National Book Review's Ten Best Nonfiction Books of the Year Star-Tribune's Best Nonfiction of 2019 NPR Code Switch's Holiday Book Guide New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice Pick Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2019 Crimereads's Best True Crime Books of 2019 PopSugar's 45 Best Nonfiction Books of 2019 Book Riot's 50 Great Books about True Crime Inspired an Esquire Best Podcast of 2019
Review Quote*"The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth reads like a detective story. Yet it serves up serious and timely questions about the way stereotypes can overpower evidence."- Lisbeth B. Schorr, Washington Post
Review Quote*"Another author would have used the 'welfare queen' as a jumping-off point to explore stereotypes, welfare politics and political rhetoric. Levin addresses all that, but his real goal is to put a face to Reagan's bogeywoman, tracking every alias, every scam, every duped husband and every dodged arrest. He presents Linda Taylor not as a parable for anything grand, but as a singular American scoundrel who represented nothing but herself...Part of the fun of Levin's book is burrowing inside his obsessive quest."-Sam Dolnick, New York Times Book Review
Review Quote*"A deftly drawn, quick-paced police procedural...The Queen is a story of grand scale manipulation, both of Taylor's trail of brazen deceptions but also the role media and politics played in shaping a narrative - making all of us the victims of games of shadows and smoke."-Lynell George, LA Times
Review Quote*"Riveting."-Gene Demby, NPR
Review Quote*"In re-examining the 'welfare queen' myth, Slate's Josh Levin tells a story about racism in America and the oversimplified narratives that still dominate political discourse."-Laura Pearson, Chicago Tribune, 25 Hot Books of the Summer
Review Quote*"Levin's work succeeds at untangling a complex life, both the actual facts of it - no easy task for a woman with dozens of aliases - and what she ultimately came to represent."-Kate Giammarise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Review Quote*"The verve and humor of Levin's writing mirrors the brazenness of the crimes Taylor committed...Taylor is like a one-person, low-rent "Ocean's 11,"and you can't help but marvel at the ingenuity with which she kept it up for decades. Neither can Levin, who ends virtually every chapter with a cliffhanger, tantalizing us with clues to Taylor's next big scam. But there's a bigger, and grimmer, story here, and Levin gives it its due."-Chris Hewitt, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Review Quote*"Levin tells this story with a forceful combination of empathy and rigor... The Queen is a powerful reminder to ask what stories lie behind the ones that catch the public eye."-Washington City Paper