Carry A. NationRetelling the Life Fran Grace The story of one of America's most notorious and misunderstood women. Carry Nation was 54 when she ""smashed"" her first saloon, but her life before she started her infamous hatchet crusade has been little known until now. In this first scholarly biography of Nation, Fran Grace unfolds a story that ...
Carry A. NationRetelling the Life Fran Grace The story of one of America's most notorious and misunderstood women. Carry Nation was 54 when she ""smashed"" her first saloon, but her life before she started her infamous hatchet crusade has been little known until now. In this first scholarly biography of Nation, Fran Grace unfolds a story that often contrasts with the image of Nation as ""Crazy Carry,"" a bellicose, blue-nosed, man-hating killjoy. Using newly available archival materials and placing Nation in her various historical and cultural contexts, Grace ""retells"" the crusader's tumultuous life. Brought up in antebellum Kentucky, Nation lived through the devastation of the Civil War and endured a failed marriage to an alcoholic physician. In her early 20s, a single mother and a destitute widow, she experienced a spiritual crisis. Her second marriage, to a much-older David Nation, grew strained under the failure of their Texas farm, her exploration into Holiness religion, and her attempts to work outside the home. When the couple moved to Kansas, Nation's disappointments translated into an agenda for social reform. Frustrated by the rampant violations of the state's prohibition law and empowered by a sense of divine mission, Nation responded with rocks, crowbars, and hatchets. Though much of her last two decades was spent on stage or in jail and in battles with other family members over the future of her unstable adult daughter, she edited two newspapers and founded several homes for abused and needy women. This complexly woven and delightfully written biography adds depth to the popular image of Carry Nation, situating her at the center of major cultural currents in her time. Fran Grace is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Redlands. Religion in North AmericaCatherine L. Albanese and Stephen J. Stein, editors May 2001400 pages, 57 b&w photos, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4, bibl., index, append.cloth 0-253-33846-8 $35.00 s / 26.50
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Publishers Weekly, 2001-04-23 This landmark biography of a much maligned and misunderstood figure will be welcomed by those interested in the history of women, reform and religion in 19th- and 20th-century America. Early biographers dismissed the axe-wielding temperance reformer as crazy, fanatical, undersexed, oversexed or menopausal; University of Redlands religious studies professor Grace makes clear that the story was far more complicated, and much less Freudian, than that. The book is worth the price of admission simply because of Grace's admirable detective work; she draws on an immense body of primary sources that earlier scholars never bothered to tap. But the biography's most important contribution is Grace's insistence that Nation can't be understood without delving into her piety. Reared by Campbellite parents, Nation, who called herself a "bulldog of Jesus," also drew on Holiness religion, the Salvation Army, Catholicism and Methodism. The biography, however, is not flawless. Grace too often sets up historiographic straw men, and her self-conscious positioning of herself as a feminist historian who is recovering Nation from the condescension of male historians is tiring; she should have made this point once in the introduction and then let her work speak for itself. The flashes of polish in Grace's prose (Nation "carved her way into the twentieth century") balance out less felicitous academese (e.g., the term "genderalities"). In all, this is a worthy portrait of the notorious smasher. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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