Review: The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth

The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth
by Josh Levin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

She was born Martha Louise White in Arkansas. She became well-known as Linda Taylor, a grifter and a cheat, and the subject of Ronald Reagan’s oft-told story of “the welfare queen” of Chicago. At her death in Florida in 2002, she was called Constance Lloyd. She was a con artist, a kidnapper, perhaps even a murderer.

In The Queen Josh Levin tells the story of Martha / Linda / Constance, and there is a lot of story to tell. Levin first wrote about Linda Taylor in a 2013 article for Slate, the magazine for which he is editor. Six years later came this book. I am sure it took that long just to sift through publicly available information and piece together the life of a woman who changed names, ages, races, husbands, life stories and locations so often it boggles the mind.

At the same time, this book is also the story of how politicians, including Reagan, used the specter of "welfare fraud" as a career stepping stone from the 1970s through the 1990s. Levin sets off the true story and scope of Linda Taylor's crimes against the decimation of the welfare safety net that was accomplished through the political drumbeats of "welfare reform" in which a part of her life story became caught up. While Levin draws no overt conclusion in the book, it's clear he comes down on the side of believing that welfare reform has done more harm than good.

I rate The Queen ⭐⭐⭐ (3 Stars) - I liked this book. If your interests are similar to mine, you might like it too.

The Queen links

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