“The Queen is an invaluable work of nonfiction.” (David Grann, number one New York Times best-selling author of Killers of the Flower Moon)
Slate editor Josh Levin’s masterful account of the life and crimes of America’s original “welfare queen”.
On the South Side of Chicago in 1974, Linda Taylor reported a phony burglary, concocting a lie about stolen furs and jewelry. The detective who checked it out soon discovered she was a welfare cheat who drove a Cadillac to collect ill-gotten government checks. And that was just the beginning: Taylor, it turned out, was also a kidnapper and possibly a murderer. A desperately ill teacher, a combat-traumatized Marine, an elderly woman hungry for companionship – after Taylor came into their lives, all three ended up dead under suspicious circumstances.
But nobody – not the journalists who touted her story, not the police, and not presidential candidate Ronald Reagan – seemed to care about anything but her welfare thievery. Growing up in the Jim Crow South, Taylor was made an outcast because of the color of her skin. As she rose to infamy, the press and politicians manipulated her image to demonize poor black women.
Part social history, part true-crime investigation, Josh Levin’s mesmerizing audiobook, the product of six years of reporting and research, is a fascinating account of American racism and an expose of the “welfare queen” myth, one that fueled political debates that reverberate to this day. The Queen tells, for the first time, the fascinating story of what was done to Linda Taylor, what she did to others, and what was done in her name.