© J. Seidman
Josh Levin is the national editor at Slateand 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. Levin was born and raised in New Orleans and is a graduate of Brown University. He lives in Washington, D.C.
11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
State Capitol Building, House Chamber
America’s Original “Welfare Queen”
Noon to 12:45 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookselling Tent
The Queen: The Forgotten Life behind an American Myth
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 “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 book, the product of six years of reporting and research, is a fascinating account of American racism, and an exposé 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.
“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
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