Join us at the JCC when Slate national editor Josh Levin presents and signs his new book, THE QUEEN: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth, a masterful account of the life and crimes of America's original "welfare queen." Josh Levin will will appear in conversation with Jordan Hirsch, editor of “A Closer Walk,” the interactive map of New Orleans music history.
“In the finest tradition of investigative reporting, Josh Levin exposes how a story that once shaped the nation’s conscience was clouded by racism and lies. As he stunningly reveals, the deeper truth, the messy truth, tells us something much larger about who we are. THE QUEEN is an invaluable work of nonfiction.” — David Grann, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon
Levin spent more than six years documenting the life of the Cadillac-driving, fur coat–wearing Taylor, who was busted for welfare fraud in 1974 on the South Side of Chicago. Taylor’s thievery was publicized by the Chicago Tribune, then taken up by presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, who regularly railed against this “woman in Chicago” who shamelessly stole from the public purse. But what Reagan didn’t know—or didn’t care to know—was that Taylor was trailed by even more shocking allegations, claims that she was a kidnapper and a killer. While these more serious crimes fell through the cracks, the welfare fraud allegations stuck.
At its heart, THE QUEEN is a portrait of a complex and misunderstood figure. Raised in the Jim Crow South and shaped by her status as an outcast, Taylor was both abused and an abuser. While the reasons for her behavior may still be shrouded in mystery, what she came to represent is undeniable. Josh Levin’s THE QUEEN is the first and only account that tells, in vivid and spectacular detail, the true story of Linda Taylor’s life and crimes, and how Taylor’s image has been exploited for nearly a half century.
"THE QUEEN is a wild, only-in-America story that helped me understand my country better. It's a fascinating portrait of a con artist and a nation... and the ways the United States continually relies on oversimplified narratives about race and class to shape public policy, almost always at the expense of brown people and poor people." — Attica Locke, author of the Edgar Award winning Bluebird, Bluebird
Josh Levin is the national editor at Slate and the host of the sports podcast Hang Up and Listen. He previously worked at the Washington City Paper and has written for Sports Illustrated, the Atlantic, GQ, and Play: The New York Times Sports Magazine. He was born and raised in New Orleans and is a graduate of Brown University. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Jordan Hirsch is the editor of “A Closer Walk,” the interactive map of New Orleans music history. He has written for Slate, Bitter Southerner, and the HBO series “Treme.” A native New Orleanian, he led recovery efforts in the city’s music community in the years following Hurricane Katrina.
Critically acclaimed, "reads like a detective story," (Washington Post) "one of the most outlandish true crime capers of the season," (Daily Beast) and the basis for the podcast The Queen, Slate editor Josh Levin's "wild, only-in-America story" (Attica Locke, author of the Edgar Award winning Bluebird, Bluebird) of Linda Taylor, the original "welfar