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A powerful report on a relevant women’s movement deservedly brought to light over a century after it occurred.

Historical survey of an early-20th-century initiative to control “promiscuous” women through forced quarantines.

In the 1910s, citing venereal disease as one of the largest culprits of military disability, the U.S. government created what was called the American Plan, which resulted in thousands of women being incarcerated for their perceived contraction and transmission of sexually transmitted infections. Stern adapts his prizewinning Yale University graduate thesis on the subject for general readers. The result is a dramatic re-enactment of the plight of these involuntarily quarantined women, personified through the life of Nina McCall, a teenager who was targeted by health officials as a disease carrier (she was declared “slightly infected” with gonorrhea) and coerced into admitting herself into a women’s detention hospital. Bolstered by the advent of neoregulationism, whereby health officials—not police—would filter, outlaw, and imprison women for disease and suspected prostitution, officials held the mass-arrested women for months on often sketchy evidence. Eventually, after simmering resentment turned to sheer outrage, a resistance movement began to develop, and dozens of women escaped, rioted, enacted hunger strikes, or set fire to their facilities in protest. According to Stern’s meticulous research, others, including McCall, took the legal route and sued government officials for the torturous and barbaric “curative” treatments they had endured in the detention facilities. Using letters, diaries, articles, and archival records, the author intricately re-creates McCall’s world and brings much-needed attention to the struggle of these persecuted women and their fight for justice. The author spotlights McCall’s trial testimony, where she became a radical voice against female oppression and abuse and an inspiration to others. The book’s academic tone is direct, informative, exacting, and well-suited for the grim subject matter it addresses, and it puts a face on the treacherous, sexist injustices committed by a misguided government.

A powerful report on a relevant women’s movement deservedly brought to light over a century after it occurred.

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-4275-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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