A colorful contextual study of Craddock and her teeming era.



The compelling life of a turn-of-the-century free spirit and free-speech activist who was silenced by the evangelical zeal of the vice squad.

Schmidt (American Religious History/Harvard Univ.; Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality, 2005, etc.) delineates the life of Philadelphia-born self-styled religion scholar and sexologist Ida Craddock (1857–1902), who navigated two important currents in late-19th-century America: the campaign for “moral purity” waged by a righteous Protestant majority, and a spirit of liberalism and spiritualism as advocated by women’s-rights activists, intellectuals and free-thinkers. Hounded throughout her life by Anthony Comstock and his zealous New York Society for the Suppression of Vice in her attempts to publish her books on various controversial topics such as phallic worship and marital sex counseling, she was tried by jury and locked up, ultimately taking her own life at age 45 to avoid another humiliating incarceration. Craddock’s father died in her infancy, leaving her in the care of her overbearing mother, and she attended the Quaker schools and demonstrated early on her marvelously nimble intelligence and “peculiarities of character.” She hoped to attend college, but her entrance to the all-male University of Pennsylvania was denied. She supported herself by teaching a form of shorthand called phonography, then working as secretary at the American Secular Union. Her forays into folklore and comparative mythology led her into the study of sex worship, and she dreamed of establishing a Church of Yoga, in which all brands of religious messengers—monks, New Thought leaders, Theosophists, mediums, occultists, etc.—would be welcome. Her claims to have a “spiritual husband” named Soph especially alarmed her mother, who instigated her institutionalization, prompting Craddock to flee to England. Championed by editors William T. Stead and Moses Harman, she set up shop in New York City as a marital counselor. Her frank-speaking pamphlets, including “Letter to a Prospective Bride” and “The Wedding Night,” were swiftly snatched up in Comstock’s anti-pornography crusade, spelling Craddock’s untimely demise.

A colorful contextual study of Craddock and her teeming era.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-465-00298-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?