Synopsis: What began as a public-health project by a Harvard medical student evolved into an intimate, ambitious, six-year study of the brothel ecosystem and a book that puts an unforgettable face on America’s maligned and caricatured subculture.
“A fascinating glimpse into a hidden lifestyle.... It's an instantly gratifying page-turner.... It emerges as a personality-filled memoir about an unforgettable group of women." —Seattle Weekly
Not a single legal prostitute in Nevada had contracted HIV since testing began in 1986. Why? Harvard medical student Alexa Albert traveled to Nevada in search of answers. Gaining unprecedented access to the infamous and notoriously secretive Mustang Ranch, Albert reveals a fascinatingly insular world where the women share their experiences with unexpected candor. There’s Dinah, Mustang’s oldest prostitute, who turned her first trick years ago at age fifty-one. And Savannah, a woman who views her work as a “healing” social service for needy men.
Nevada’s legal brothels are an incredibly rich environment for examining some of this nation’s thorniest social issues. From problems of class and race to the meaning of family, honor, and justice—all are found within this complex and singular microcosm. And in a country where prejudice is a dirty word—but not as dirty as hooker—these social issues are compounded and deepened by the stifling stigma that has always plagued the profession. But in the end, all of Mustang’s working girls are just women trying to earn their way to happiness.
Brothel is a landmark work that probes beyond the veil of desire and fantasy in which the sex trade shrouds itself—and uncovers the naked humanity at its core.
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