The Girl on the Velvet Swing: Sex, Murder, and Madness at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century

By Simon Baatz
Read by Christine Lakin

10.41 Hours 01/16/2018 unabridged
Format: Digital Download (13Tracks)
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    ISBN: 9781478940845

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    ISBN: 9781549140211

In 1901, Evelyn Nesbit, the pinup girl and penniless young actress, dined with Stanford White, the legendary architect whose works defined the New York landscape, at his 24th St. apartment. Evelyn drank champagne and was dazzled by a tour of White’s decadent rooms, which included a sumptuous velvet couch swing on which Evelyn played. Evelyn was given more champagne, and lost consciousness. She woke, nearly naked, in bed next to White. White was forty-seven years old. Evelyn Nesbit was just sixteen. Four years later, tarnished by the air of impropriety that in those days surrounded a lowly career in the theater, Evelyn would marry Harry Thaw, a playboy millionaire rumored to be mentally unstable, and in whom she confided the story of her encounter with Stanford White. One night in 1906, a vengeful Thaw shot and killed White before hundreds of theatergoers during a performance at Madison Square Garden—a venue designed by none other than White himself. The city—and the nation that looked to it—erupted with news of the murder and ensuing trial, then the most sensational scandal in history: one so sordid that President Teddy Roosevelt himself would try and stop the press from covering it. But the murder of Stanford White stood for far more than tabloid scandal. Evelyn’s shocking testimony would propel her to an uneasy stardom, an uncertain fortune, and send the case before the Supreme Court. Filled with the glamour, jealousy, and danger of the Gilded Age, The Girl on the Velvet Swing is an immersive, richly detailed look at an America dominated by men of outsize fortunes, and at the women whose lives depended on them.

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Summary

Summary

An Amazon Best Book of the Month

In 1901, Evelyn Nesbit, the pinup girl and penniless young actress, dined with Stanford White, the legendary architect whose works defined the New York landscape, at his 24th St. apartment. Evelyn drank champagne and was dazzled by a tour of White’s decadent rooms, which included a sumptuous velvet couch swing on which Evelyn played. Evelyn was given more champagne, and lost consciousness. She woke, nearly naked, in bed next to White. White was forty-seven years old. Evelyn Nesbit was just sixteen.

Four years later, tarnished by the air of impropriety that in those days surrounded a lowly career in the theater, Evelyn would marry Harry Thaw, a playboy millionaire rumored to be mentally unstable, and in whom she confided the story of her encounter with Stanford White. One night in 1906, a vengeful Thaw shot and killed White before hundreds of theatergoers during a performance at Madison Square Garden—a venue designed by none other than White himself.

The city—and the nation that looked to it—erupted with news of the murder and ensuing trial, then the most sensational scandal in history: one so sordid that President Teddy Roosevelt himself would try and stop the press from covering it. But the murder of Stanford White stood for far more than tabloid scandal. Evelyn’s shocking testimony would propel her to an uneasy stardom, an uncertain fortune, and send the case before the Supreme Court.

Filled with the glamour, jealousy, and danger of the Gilded Age, The Girl on the Velvet Swing is an immersive, richly detailed look at an America dominated by men of outsize fortunes, and at the women whose lives depended on them.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“In his absorbing, well-written, and meticulously researched account of the murder of Stanford White, Simon Baatz delves deeper than ever before into the event’s judicial, popular, and psychiatric dimensions and ramifications.” Mike Wallace, Pulitzer Prize–winning author
“The history of a crime of passion that revealed the sordid underside of the Gilded Age…Baatz takes a fresh—though groundbreaking—look at the scandal, drawing mostly on newspaper reports to create a fast-paced narrative.” Kirkus Reviews
“Readers will appreciate Baatz’s exciting, novel-like approach, and those interested in early twentieth-century law especially will enjoy the courtroom scenes.” Booklist
“Baatz…aims to document and just as thoroughly vivify what really happened.” Library Journal

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Simon Baatz

Simon Baatz is a New York Times-bestselling author and award-winning historian. He has graduate degrees in history from the University of Pennsylvania and Imperial College London, and he currently teaches United States history and American legal history at John Jay College, City University of New York. Simon grew up in London and has lived in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, CD
Category: Nonfiction/True Crime
Runtime: 10.41
Audience: Adult
Language: English