Between Reconstruction and Prohibition, Beale Street in Memphis thrived as a cauldron of sex and song, greed and race hatred-a street that inspired folk legends and reshaped American politics. Preston Lauterbach tells this story through the life of the South's first black millionaire, an ex-slave named Robert Church. With a compromised fortune gleaned from brothels and gambling houses, Church and his son bankrolled militant civil rights activism, furnished the venues where W.C. Handy invented the blues and built a powerful black political machine. Fighting to redeem themselves and their city, these vice kings clashed with the forces of Jim Crow to create a hotbed of black culture. Brilliantly researched, Beale Street Dynasty evokes a lost world of swaggering musicians, glamorous madams and ruthless politicians.
Preston Lauterbach's first book, The Chitlin' Circuit: And the Road to Rock 'n' Roll was named a best book of the year by the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and NPR. A Curb Visiting Scholar in the Arts at Rhodes College, Lauterbach lives near Charlottesville in Nelson County, Virginia.