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Who's in the Video
Karen Abbott is a journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Sin in the Second City, an exploration of the role of brothels in the cultural and political[…]

Abbott talks about how she could write about such dark materials.

Karen Abbott: I don’t know if this answer is it, but you know I think it’s okay to keep parts of yourself hidden. And I think that human nature is probably, you know, an equation between . . . an equation that factors in how much of yourself you’re comfortable with hiding, and how much of yourself you show. And how much of yourself you show that . . . that is . . . that is a sort of gussied up version of yourself. You know I think there’s several different things that factor into human nature. And the way that people treat and sort of divvy up those three different things is what sort of differentiates everybody from everybody else, if that makes any sense whatsoever. I think it was easier because it was . . . I mean the fact that it’s history was a little bit helpful. I had a lot more problem with that when I was writing journalism and I, you know . . . I just went to see, you know, a family whose four year old got hit by a stray bullet and killed. Or you know somebody whose . . . they just, you know, got beat to death in a bar fight – you know a couple things I wrote about in Philadelphia. It was easier to . . . That was so visceral and immediate. They’re standing in front of you and crying. This was sort of, you know, you can imagine what they went through. But it was . . . you know you have that sort of time period . . . the buffer of a century that sort of helps with that. But I did wanna make sure there was a dark undercurrent throughout the book. I mean there are a lot of fun anecdotes – you know the Prince Harry of Prussia, the drinking from the slipper, and the Susie …, and you know all of these fun anecdotes that went on at the club. And I really want to make sure that there was that sort of . . . that seamy underbelly was there just because it would be the only way to accurately portray this time period. And there were lots of dark pockets in this time period.

Recorded On: 1/22/08