The Queen

The Queen

Linda Taylor was a con artist, a kidnapper, maybe even a murderer. She was also America’s original “welfare queen,” the villain Ronald Reagan needed to create a vision of a country being taken advantage of by its poorest citizens. Josh Levin reveals the never-before-told story of a woman whose singular life was forgotten in the rush to create a vicious American stereotype.... Show More

Episodes

June 17, 2019 23 min

Listen to the first chapter of the audiobook version of The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth. Narrated by January LaVoy. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

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June 10, 2019 20 min

In this excerpt from the second bonus episode of The Queen, Dan Kois talks to Josh Levin about the process of writing the reporting-intensive book the podcast series is based on. They’re joined by a panel of three distinguished authors, who share their own lessons about what it takes to write a book-length investigation: David Grann, a New Yorker staff writer and the author of Killers of the Flower Moon; James Forman Jr., winner of... Read more

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Is it possible that Linda Taylor perpetrated one of the most infamous child abductions in American history? In this excerpt from the first bonus episode of The Queen, Josh Levin talks to Paul Joseph Fronczak about how Taylor could be connected to the April 1964 kidnapping of a 1-day-old boy born to Paul’s parents, Dora and Chester Fronczak. They also discuss Paul’s search for his true identity. To hear the full episode, join Slate ... Read more

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June 3, 2019 31 min

Linda Taylor had a tendency to emerge from out of nowhere, upend everything in her path, then vanish without leaving a forwarding address. The final episode of The Queen focuses on two different stories about the lives Taylor changed. In one case, she helped a vulnerable family escape the degradations of the Jim Crow South. In the other, she kidnapped a child and may have been responsible for her own husband’s death. This podcast i... Read more

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May 27, 2019 26 min

A decade before she became known as the “welfare queen,” Linda Taylor put herself at the center of a different Chicago scandal. Upon the death of gambling kingpin Lawrence Wakefield, Taylor posed as the heir to his sizable fortune. The ensuing court proceeding was full of lies and surprise witnesses. That heirship hearing would ultimately reveal Taylor’s real identity and offer a window into her troubled past. This podcast is based... Read more

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May 20, 2019 24 min

In the 1970s, a pair of very different men fought to define Linda Taylor’s image. For presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, Taylor epitomized the brokenness of the federal bureaucracy and the broader trend of poor people getting rich off the public dime. Taylor’s defense lawyer, the civil rights attorney R. Eugene Pincham, believed she was a scapegoat, and that her actions were crimes of survival. This podcast is based on Josh Levi... Read more

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May 13, 2019 24 min

Linda Taylor became the “welfare queen” in 1974 when the Chicago Tribune publicized her outrageous exploits. The reporter who introduced her to the world was a Pulitzer Prize winner named George Bliss. He stumbled into the Taylor story while investigating waste and fraud in the public aid system, and his fixation on a single welfare recipient may have been more damaging than he ever realized. This podcast is based on Josh Levin’s n... Read more

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May 6, 2019 2 min

Linda Taylor was a con artist, a kidnapper, maybe even a murderer. She was also America’s original “welfare queen,” the villain Ronald Reagan needed to create a vision of a country being taken advantage of by its poorest citizens. Josh Levin reveals the never-before-told story of a woman whose singular life was forgotten in the rush to create a vicious American stereotype. This podcast is based on Josh Levin’s new book, The Queen: ... Read more

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