Polly Adler's "house" -- the brothel that gave this best-selling 1953 autobiography its title -- was a major site of New York City underworld activity from the 1920s through the 1940s. Adler's notorious Lexington Avenue house of prostitution functioned as a sort of social club for New York's gangsters and a variety of other celebrities, including Robert Benchley and his friend Dorothy Parker. According to one New York tabloid, it made Adler's name "synonymous with sin." This new edition of Adler's autobiography brings back ...
Polly Adler's "house" -- the brothel that gave this best-selling 1953 autobiography its title -- was a major site of New York City underworld activity from the 1920s through the 1940s. Adler's notorious Lexington Avenue house of prostitution functioned as a sort of social club for New York's gangsters and a variety of other celebrities, including Robert Benchley and his friend Dorothy Parker. According to one New York tabloid, it made Adler's name "synonymous with sin." This new edition of Adler's autobiography brings back into print a book that was a mass phenomenon, in both hardback and paperback, when it was first published. A self-consciously literary work, A House Is Not a Home provides an informal social history of immigrant mobility, prostitution, Jewish life in New York, police dishonesty, the "white slavery" scare of the early twentieth century, and political corruption. Adler's story fills an important gap in the history of immigrant life, urban experience, and organized crime in New York City. While most other accounts of the New York underworld focus on the lives of men, from Herbert Asbury's Gangs of New York through more recent works on Jewish and Italian gangsters, this book brings women's lives and problems to the forefront. A House Is Not a Home is compellingly readable and was popular enough to draw Hollywood's attention in the early 1960s -- leading to a film starring Shelley Winters as Adler. The book has been largely forgotten in the ensuing decades, lost both to its initial audience of general readers and to scholars in women's studies, immigration history, and autobiography who are likely to find it a treasure trove. Now, with a new introduction by Rachel Rubin that contextualizes Adler's life and literary achievement, A House Is Not a Home is again available to the many readers who have come to understand such "marginal" life stories as a special refraction of the more typical American success narrative.
288 pages. Softcover. Reading copy. Fair condition. AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Here is the autobiography of the most celebrated madam of her time-and of the men who were her "guests." From mobsters to celebrated actors, from small-time businessmen to big-shot politicians-you will meet them all in this biography of the woman whose hospitality became a legend because of the way she entertained her guests. (Key Words: Prostitution, Polly Adler, Prostitutes, Brothels, Autobiography, Madams, Movie Tie-In).
Polly Adler was the American dream -- sort of. She came to New York as a little girl, penniless, with no knowledge of English and during her career established numerous bordellos that caterered to the rich and famous. This 1953 memoir offers a fun and often insightful look at times gone by, the kind of social history that is rare but well worth a look.
Edgar E S
Feb 2, 2012
Absolutely no gratuitous sex but a lot about organized crime and politics. Compares favorably with The Madame of the House, another brook about the "glamor" of high-class prostitution.
Apr 1, 2011
Book is a typical bio in that author justifies her deeds through positions and conditions placed upon her by outside forces not of her own choice. It is an interesting look into the times when women were just awakening into a more assertive position in society. Has some interesting antedotes about famous persons of the era.
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