MARY HEATON VORSE: The Life of an American Insurgent by Dee Garrison

MARY HEATON VORSE: The Life of an American Insurgent

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Women who came of age in the 1960's tend to view themselves as pioneers for women's rights. How surprising, then, to discover that journalist Mary Heaton Vorse--who made her reputation covering the labor movement of the early 20th century--considered herself part of ""the crop"" that sprang from the agitation of an earlier generation. Born in 1874, Vorse was referring to those who fought for women's rights in the 1860's. Women today will be more surprised still to learn how little their lives have changed in the last 100 years, especially in the area of childcare. This is the shock of this biography by Garrison (History/Rutgers). Although Garrison documents Vorse's entire life, she's strongest when describing her subject's wrenching personal moments--her disappointing marriage, her inability to reconcile motherhood with her career drive. Ironically, Vorse's years in the field covering wars and labor unrest are less brilliantly etched. Despite the dramatic material, this period comes across as dry in contrast to the more gut-wrenching view Garrison paints of Vorse's internal conflicts. Unable to adjust to the ""cold war"" truce labor and management devised after WW II, Vorse became ""a respected anachronism."" She retreated from public view, dying in 1966 at the age of 92. Garrison stints a bit on analysis, but nonetheless offers a vividly drawn picture of a heroic woman.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Temple Univ. Press