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Beale Street Dynasty: Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis

by Preston Lauterbach


“Adds a fascinating chapter to civil rights history. But for all the hatred it depicts, this gracefully written book never loses sight of the fun that made Handy exalt that stretch of dirt road.”
- James Gavin, New York Times Book Review

“All aspects of this complex, fascinating history are told…with verve and vivid erudition.”
- Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

“Lauterbach brings the history of Memphis to life in this vivid reconstruction of its volatile history… an engaging, entertaining, and thorough history. Lauterbach superbly handles the city’s race relations and the black struggle for equality… a wonderful portrait of a city in flux and a neighborhood’s lasting, though oft-overlooked, legacy.”
- Publishers Weekly

“Lauterbach here provides the exceptional story of a southern city that matches in sheer bravado and outrageousness any rival metropolis, and in so doing he fills in a gap in America’s urban and racial history… [F]ascinating.”
- Mark Levine, Booklist

“Excellent study of an iconic Southern place and the fraught, violent history behind it… Lauterbach adds to the rich library devoted to “old, weird America” established by writers such as Michael Ventura, Peter Guralnick and Greil Marcus. Beale Street is mostly a tourist trap now, but it was a place of ‘whorehouses, saloons, and bullet holes’ not so long ago. By Lauterbach’s illuminating account, the past was more fun―or at least more interesting.”
- Kirkus Reviews

“[A]n engaging, surprising, at times edifying tour of a civic past… Beale Street Dynasty is both good history and a good yarn. … [A] Southern answer to Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York or HBO’s similarly titled Boardwalk Empire.”
- Memphis Commercial Appeal

Beale Street Dynasty book

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