An accessible, well-written, riveting tale of a dismal, little-known corner of American history.



An eye-opening account of the valiant work of a handful of Christian women against the enslavement of Asian girls in San Francisco’s Chinatown from the mid-1870s well into the next century.

In her latest impressive work of research and storytelling, San Francisco–based journalist and author Siler (Lost Kingdom: Hawaii's Last Queen, the Sugar Kings and America's First Imperial Adventure, 2012, etc.) delves vigorously into a shocking story of racism and oppression. Well past California’s ratification of the 13th Amendment, the white male authorities largely looked the other way when boatloads of Chinese girls and vulnerable other women arrived as cargo from overseas and were quickly corralled into work as prostitutes and indentured servants. Most were tricked by unscrupulous relatives and agents into voyaging to America. They were valuable fodder to feed the “pent-up demand for sex” by the solitary male Chinese workers who had been lured in great numbers by the gold rush of 1848 as well as those who fled the turmoil in South China’s Pearl River delta region in the 1860s. The notorious brothels of Chinatown also attracted a considerable white clientele. Rising first to meet the need of girls and women who managed to escape their horrific fates were the wives of Presbyterian missionaries, part of the surge of Christian evangelism at the time known as the Great Awakening. From their modest Presbyterian Mission House on Sacramento Street, on the edge of Chinatown, these brave women, especially the house’s superintendent, Margaret Culbertson, sheltered the refugees, defying their gangster handlers; taught them skills such as reading and sewing; served as their advocates and translators in court; and often arranged for them respectable marriages to Chinese men, one of their few options in America. Siler vividly portrays both the vibrant, violent milieu of Chinatown of the era—amid the fear and hatred of the Chinese by whites and the effects of laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882—and the lives and dedication of the extraordinary women of the Mission House.

An accessible, well-written, riveting tale of a dismal, little-known corner of American history.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-87526-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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