- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; 1St Edition edition (May 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594489939
- ISBN-13: 978-1594489938
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White: The Birth of the "It" Girl and the Crime of the Century Hardcover – May 1, 2008
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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Top Customer Reviews
Nesbit's story, and the tale of murder and insanity that accompanies it, is brilliantly told in Paula Uruburu's book American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, The Birth of the "It" Girl, and the Crime of the Century. While the appelation It Girl is incorrect (that was Clara Bow some twenty years later), Nesbit was certainly the first model to gain national attention. Her humble upbringing from a Pittsburgh suburb to full-time model at age 14 is layed out in scrupulous detail, as is her seduction by White and courtship with the mad Harry. What Uruburu seems most keen on doing here is setting the record straight--Nesbit was vilified by many in the press at the time of the murder and trial. As Uruburu points out, she was more sinned against than sinning, a girl who was neglected by her mother and allowed to be exploited by the rapacious men of the age.Read more ›
Uruburu's exhilarating tale begins in NYC during the final hours of 1899--an "Eden" where Nesbit, the titular Eve and "Little Sphinx," rises from poverty and obscurity to become the preeminent model and pin-up girl of the day. Part Ophelia, part Salome, the inscrutable Nesbit (also an actress and Gibson girl) captures the fancy of famed architect Stanford White, the "Pharaoh of Fifth Avenue" whose contributions to the "priapic city" included the gilded bronze weathervane of a scandalously nude Diana--appropriately, the goddess of the hunt and chastity--that sat atop the second Madison Square Garden (which White designed).
Notorious for plucking ripe "tomatoes" from the stage to add to his Garden, the married, lustful and predatory "Great White" (who was three times Nesbit's age) fawns over Nesbit, wooing her with money, charm and a red velvet swing. Although Nesbit was only 16, White initiates the fall of this Eve during a night of lights, mirrors, a canopied bed and too much champagne. Awakening in "an abbreviated pink undergarment" and with a nude White next to her, Nesbit is told by the architect, "Don't cry kittens. It's all over. Now you belong to me."
Not quite. Enter Mad Harry--Harry K. Thaw of Pittsburgh--with a carnivorous appetite and penchant for forbidden fruit as well. The heir-apparent to a $40 million coke and railroad fortune, Thaw was a puritanical vigilante with a history of mental illness and a hatred for White.Read more ›
Uruburu's look at the life and tragedy of Evelyn Nesbit is a fascinating page-turner that finally places Nesbit in her correct time period. Although she looks modern, she was a girl trapped and exploited by the standards of her time. Her beauty lifted her into the high life of 1900s New York City, but it also led her down a tragic path of madness and murder.
Although the previous reviewer is correct that the term "It Girl" didn't come into play until Clara Bow in the 1920s, author Uruburu states that Nesbit was the "It Girl" of the turn of the last century, and I agree. Nesbit's life and the 1906 murder of Stanford White still fascinate, and this is one of the best books on the subject.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The person I purchased this book for thought it was very interesting and well-written. An elderly relative loves to read and likes non-fiction or historical fiction. Read morePublished 10 days ago by pleinelune
Very great read - happy to be hearing the author at the Saratoga Performing Arts Action Council luncheon on a Thursday, Oct 20th. Event begins at 9:30am. Contact SPACPublished 17 days ago by D J DUQUETTE
Fascinating book about people whom I knew nothing about. Describes a time that was very important in NY and American history.Published 4 months ago by Bernadette Devaney
I am so fascinated by this story & Evelyn Nesbit herself! This was a great book on the topic.Published 4 months ago by TiffanyTury
An unapologetically bait-and-switch political screed masquerading as a biography. Has some good sections but vulgar and misplaced misanthropy stains the work early and often.Published 6 months ago by Randy Larkin
This fascinating story deserves better treatment. Dr Uruburu is, no doubt, a great wordsmith, but her storytelling style gives me a headache. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Luckydawg
America Eva is the sobering account of the life and wild career of Evelyn Nesbit. Nesbit was a famous model and minor actress who was the most photographed ingénue in... Read morePublished 7 months ago by C. M Mills
I could not put this book down. Evelyn Nesbitt's beauty transcends time and perhaps, in light of the recent happenings with the Bill Cosby accusations, it speaks even more... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Debby Miller
Interesting story but thought the writing was awful. One alliteration after another.Published 11 months ago by susan crane