Publication Date: November 2, 2021
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Meet the real-life figure to rival the fictional Great Gatsby. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Most Famous Man in America, the compulsively readable and sometimes jaw-dropping life of the notorious madam who played hostess to every gangster, politician, writer, sports star and Cafe Society swell worth knowing, and who as much as any single figure helped make the twenties roar
Simply put: Everybody came to Polly’s. Pearl “Polly” Adler (1900-1962) was a diminutive dynamo whose Manhattan brothels in the Roaring Twenties became places not just for men to have the company of women but were key gathering places where the culturati and celebrity elite mingled with high society and with violent figures of the underworld—and had a good time doing it. As a Jewish immigrant from eastern Europe, Polly Adler’s life is a classic American story of success and assimilation that starts like a novel by Henry Roth and then turns into a glittering real-life tale straight out of F. Scott Fitzgerald. She declared her ambition to be “the best goddam madam in all America” and succeeded wildly. Debby Applegate uses Polly’s story as the key to unpacking just what made the 1920s the appallingly corrupt yet glamorous and transformational era that it was and how the collision between high and low is the unique ingredient that fuels American culture.
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