A useful addition to Western Americana and women’s studies.

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WANTON WEST

MADAMS, MONEY, MURDER, AND THE WILD WOMEN OF MONTANA'S FRONTIER

There weren’t many career opportunities open to women in the Wild West: schoolmarm, farm wife, perhaps stenographer. However, writes journalist and popular historian Morgan (Media Writing/Univ. of Texas, Arlington; Good Time Girls of the Alaska-Yukon Gold Rush, 1998, etc.) in this entertaining and instructive study, there was always a demand for prostitutes and brothel keepers, and many women naturally drifted into those ancient professions.

Profiling several of these women from the Gold Rush into the early years of the 20th century, the author makes it clear why this wasn’t necessarily a bad career move, especially on the management side. In Helena, Mont., the city’s 37 “independent, property-owning prostitutes” accounted for 44 percent of the real-estate transfers and sometimes acted as venture capitalists for local businesses; a dozen of them reported that they had bank accounts in excess of $2,500, while “even street whores without capital could expect to earn $223 a month”—this at a time when a skilled carpenter made half that. One hooker-turned-madam even opened a theater that became “a family favorite,” while others, mostly immigrants from Asia and Europe, provided financial anchors around which communities of their compatriots formed. Morgan’s subject, improperly treated, could easily devolve into a lascivious catalog, but she has an important larger point: The independence of these women inspired the independence of women who did not engage in the sex trade, and it’s no accident that women had the right to vote and served in political office in the West well before they did in other parts of the country. The author closes with Montana’s own Jeannette Rankin, elected to Congress in 1917, who got plenty done—even if, as Morgan writes, the press of the day “showed less interest in her legislative accomplishments than in whether she was having an affair with Fiorello LaGuardia.”

A useful addition to Western Americana and women’s studies.

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-338-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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

NIGHT

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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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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