From Publishers Weekly
Uruburu, an associate professor of English at Hofstra who has consulted for the History Channel, examines the notorious life of model and chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit (1885?–1967), whose rise to stardom was as spectacular as her subsequent fall. Born in rural Pennsylvania, Florence Evelyn Nesbit was an exceedingly pretty infant who by 15 had achieved success as an actress and model in New York City, where her blend of sultry sexuality and unspoiled purity attracted the eye of famed architect and playboy Stanford White. But Pittsburgh heir and sexual sadist Harry K. Thaw wanted Nesbit for himself and vowed to expose White's immoral conduct with underage girls. Thaw went on to brutally rape and beat Nesbit, yet she agreed to marry him. Still consumed with jealousy, Thaw shot White to death in 1906, leading to a headline-grabbing trial. Uruburu's depiction of Nesbit's early life and career is richly detailed, but the book loses steam near the end and barely addresses Nesbit's post-trial tailspin into alcoholism. Still, readers will appreciate the parallels between Nesbit's It Girl status and our own celebrity-obsessed culture. Photos. (May 1)
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Americans have always been intrigued by sex and scandal. Even in seemingly more innocent eras, sexually fueled transgressions and crimes had the power to transfix the public. Uruburu recounts the salacious details of an early-twentieth-century crime that both shocked and gripped the collective public consciousness. A superstar by turn-of-the-century standards, Evelyn Nesbit, model, actress, and advertising creation, represented an idealized version of American womanhood. When her unbalanced millionaire husband shot and killed her lover, renowned New York architect and man-about-town Stanford White, the stage was set for a virtual media circus. All the decadent details revealed at the trial were devoured by a public just as hungry to see young, beautiful, and successful women crash and burn as they are today. Uruburu draws some valid comparisons between then and now in this tell-all biography of one of the first in a long line of tarnished “It Girls.” --Margaret Flanagan