The Queen

The Queen

The Forgotten Life Behind An American Myth

Book - 2019
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Grand Central Pub
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).


Baker & Taylor
Provides an account of the life of one of America's most notorious welfare cheats, who committed much darker crimes, and who became the figure behind the myth of the "welfare queen."

Baker
& Taylor

An editor for Slate provides an account of the life of one of America's most notorious welfare cheats, who also committed much darker crimes. 50,000 first printing.
"In the fall of 1974, the Chicago Tribune found a woman its readers were sure to hate. Linda Taylor had reported a phony burglary, concocting a lie about stolen furs and jewelry. The detective who checked it out soon discovered she was a scammer, a welfare cheat who drove a Cadillac to collect ill-gotten government checks. Taylor, it turned out, was also a kidnapper, and possibly a murderer. But nobody--not the journalists who touted her story, not the police, and not Ronald Reagan, who railed against Taylor during the 1976 presidential campaign--seemed to care about anything but her welfare thievery. Levin's mesmerizing book, the product of six years of reporting and research, is an empathetic work of true crime, an account of how Taylor destroyed both strangers and those close to her... 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. This is the dazzling story of what was done to Linda Taylor, what she did to others, and what was done in her name."--Dust jacket.

Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2019
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316513302
Branch Call Number: 364.16309 LEV 2020-06
Characteristics: xi, 418 pages : illustrations (some colour) ; 25 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

List - Hoodwinked
bpl_staff Mar 24, 2021

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: Tay... Read More »


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jwally
Dec 01, 2020

The Queen was an amazing book. The study of Linda Taylor's difficult life and hugely complex criminal behavior was only a portion of the read. Ms. Taylor's relatives' lives, the lives of her prosecutors and defenders, and the political gains Ronald Reagan and others made using cartoonish generalizations of the poor based on surface facts of her life, are incredibly well researched and presented with clarity and precision. I found this a compelling read and might well buy a copy now.

IndyPL_TheresaC Nov 13, 2020

An honest look at Ronald Reagan, politics, poverty, and race. Linda Taylors worse crimes were overlooked to allow politicians to exploit a tired trope used against the economically disadvantaged. Slate has a podcast about this book hosted by the author.

s
sparklep1
Oct 14, 2019

The cheating made me angry. It has caused suspicion to become the standard, for those in need. Beyond that "Queen" notion, the story went on and on and on. It took way too many detours, about the not very interesting cheater's history. I gave up, half way through.

p
potenza
Sep 11, 2019

A thriller, mystery, and study of mental illness, as much as a story of welfare abuse. Incredibly well-written and researched, especially considering the difficulty of sorting out the material.

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