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FREE THINKER

SEX, SUFFRAGE, AND THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF HELEN HAMILTON GARDENER

A captivating story of yet another strong, brilliant woman who should be better known.

A history of an important suffragist that serves as “a quintessentially American story of self-making.”

Hamlin (American Studies/Miami Univ.; From Eve to Evolution: Darwin, Science, and Women's Rights in Gilded Age America, 2015) chronicles the life of Helen Hamilton Gardener (1853-1925), born Alice Chenoweth, who was involved with a married man while serving as the principal of a Sandusky, Ohio, teacher training school. To avoid the label of “fallen woman,” she moved with her lover, Charles Smart, to Detroit and then, in 1884, to New York City, where she changed her name. She joined the free thought movement led by Robert Ingersoll, “the great agnostic,” and became its most influential woman. Gardener was an early proponent of women’s rights, working to raise the legal age of consent to 16, giving women the right to own property, and attacking the religious and cultural biases of scientific research used to degrade women. Ingersoll mentored her, encouraging her speaking engagements and writing, including her books Men, Women, and Gods, and Other Lectures and Is This Your Son, My Lord?, which sold more than 25,000 copies following its publication in 1891. For two decades she was a regular presence at Ingersoll’s weekly “at homes,” which featured some of the most interesting people in New York. Her writing ability opened doors for her, especially her introductory letters in which she tried to connect to important persons. Woodrow Wilson was Gardener’s greatest connection, and her work lobbying him to help the passage of the 19th Amendment was indispensable. After Smart’s death in 1901, she went to Puerto Rico, where she got reacquainted with Col. Selden Allen Day, whom she eventually married. After traveling the world for a few years, in 1910, they moved to Washington, D.C., where Gardener became a leader at the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Her tactics to woo and influence Washington’s lawmakers were legendary. Throughout the chronological, passionately researched narrative, Hamlin captures all angles of her fascinating subject.

A captivating story of yet another strong, brilliant woman who should be better known.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00497-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Awards & Accolades

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  • Readers Vote
  • 21


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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Winner


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

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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