Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Notorious Victoria: The Life of Victoria Woodhull, Uncensored
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Mary Gabriel handles her subject, Victoria Woodhull, without criticizing her as other authors like Irving Wallace and Emanie Sachs have done. She has the perspicacity to treat the accusations of prostitution as just that--accusations and gossip heaped on a woman who dared to stand out from the crowd. Gabriel does more to clear Woodhull's name than Woodhull's husband, Col. Blood, was able to do in his lifetime. As a descendant of Col. Blood's last wife, Isabell Blood, I recommend this book, if for no other reason than it continues the work he tried to accomplish--proving that Victoria Woodhull was a courageous, forward-thinking, and spiritual woman maligned by her contemporaries.
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on April 2, 2006
Victoria Woodhull was one of the boldest, most renowned, and most villified woman of the United States in the 19th century . Yet today many people have never heard of her. Also, what has been written about her has been so biased by attempts to either deify her or demonize her. Thus today's reader is well-served by this factual and chronological presentation of what can be known of the life of Victoria Woodhull. Mary Gabriel puts her background in journalism to good use in putting together this unbiased account of the woman and her times.

With chapter titles that consist of place names, months and years Ms. Gabriel takes the reader on a trip through Victoria's live from her birth in Homer, Ohio to her last days on her country estate in Glooucestershire, England. More than half the book is focused on the years 1971-1973 when Victoria, with her sister Tennie C. Claflin, rose to fame in a meteoric fashion. In this brief time they opened a brokerage house on Wall Street and published a news weekly on topics of social and political reform. In addition Victoria was the first woman to address a committee of Congress; she ran for president of the United States with Frederick Douglas as her running mate; and she presided over the women's suffrage movement, a New York chapter of the International Workingmen's Association, and the American Spiritualists Association.

Her stated goal was to rescue the women of America from sexual slavery and guarantee their rights to their own sexuality. When she found out that the famous minister Henry Ward Beecher was sleeping with members of his congregation during the week and condemning her politics from the pulpit on Sundays, she exposed his hypocricy. He was never condemned for his duplicity, but she was hounded into jail and ruin until her only recourse was to leave the country.

Mary Gabriel does a wonderful job of presenting the complex story, picking through the slanders and exagerations, and creating a readable history of this social reformer and her impact on her times. This is the best account of the life of Victoria Woodhull that I have read and I recommend it highly.
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on January 20, 2005
Victoria Woodhull's fight for women's equal rights surpasses that of the other women involved in the movement at that time in its boldness and intelligence (read the previous review). Unfortunately, her modern views on human rights earned her many enemies within the feminist movement, some of which later expunged her from the movement's history. It seems that even today Woodhull hasn't the merit she deserves.
She was an amazing woman! Her life story would perhaps make a great movie, far greater than HBO's "Iron jawed angels".
Mary gabriel delivered a very well documented account of what truly happened in the second half of 19th century feminist movement.
Very inspiring and frustrating book at once.
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on February 9, 2013
What a trailblazer Victoria was. Of course, she got "seed money" from wealthy men, but in those days a woman had to use her skills where they were "allowed" to be used. She was a feminist during the worst time to be a feminist and her life opened some doors previously closed to women.

I applaud her life and her willingness to "beat her head against the glass ceiling" to better herself and her family. In ways we don't even appreciate today, Victoria has made life a little easier for all women.

Bravo, Victoria ! With the hand you were dealt, you played your cards brilliantly !
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on December 5, 2012
I'm just an avid reader, not a paid reviewer nor a historian. I read some negative reviews about this book, but interested in the subject I purchased it anyway. I was pleasantly surprised. I found it very engrossing and a sad tale in my opinion of how petty jealousies, outright lies, innuendo and setting people on pedestals to knock them down is a long tradition in our country. Many of the issues during Victoria's heydey are revelant today and we see the same types of ridiculous behavior in politics. As Shakespeare pointed out, there is nothing new under the sun. All that said, if you like reading historical biographies, biographies about strong women or just want to learn something new I highly recommend this book. I gave it four stars instead of five simply because at times it became repetitive, but that is more because of what happened to Mrs. Woodhull in her life rather than a reflection on the author.
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Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street, the first woman to run for President, and the first woman to address Congress, to whom, in 1871, she declared that, pursuant to the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, women had the right to vote. Yet Victoria Woodhull has been all but excised from the popular political and social histories of the 19th century America. With "Notorious Victoria", author Mary Gabriel has written a meticulously researched biography which attempts to establish Victoria Woodhull's importance as a social reformer while presenting a balanced picture of this most controversial and outspoken feminist. Unlike her more respectable and more revered contemporaries, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Victoria Woodhull had roots in poverty and was intimately familiar with the plight of the average American woman of the day. It was her conviction that freedom and equality for women would only be achieved when women had equality in marriage and in economics, and that the right to vote, although inalienable, was somewhat immaterial. This set her apart from the mainstream feminists who chose to concentrate narrowly on the less controversial agenda of suffrage for women and who eventually rejected Victoria wholesale for her radical advocacy of free love, workers' rights, and her talent for attracting scandal. The platform on which Victoria ran for President, representing the People's Party, would be radical even today in its call to prohibit government from enacting any law that would interfere with any individual's freedom "to pursue happiness as they may choose". Victoria Woodhull was a fascinating, colorful, and flawed woman who lived in a time of social upheaval and media frenzy, which rightfully secured her a place in American history. My only criticism of Mary Gabriel's book is that it offers very little comment on Victoria Woodhull's startling change in attitude when she reached middle age. For twenty years she made a career out of exposing society's hypocrisies, and then suddenly she seemed to embrace hypocrisy with gusto. It is very possible that no one has any idea why Victoria so viciously turned against her former husband, Colonel Blood, and tried to rewrite her earlier life. But I found the absence of comment on this puzzling behavior conspicuous. Nevertheless, "Notorious Victoria" is a fascinating and sometimes scintillating account of one frank and gutsy 19th century social activist and the tumultuous society in which she lived. And since Victoria Woodhull was a passionate "free lover", not a dry spinster feminist, her story is sure to intrigue and entertain an audience well beyond feminist historians, including many men.
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on November 30, 2012
The words that caught my eye were First Woman Broker and then the year-1870? This is a read for every woman and open minded men. Victoria was a character as was her family. She was fanning her skirts before her time.

Victoria was charismatic, smart and a con woman but had some of the most forward thinking of her time. This book will keep you interested and surprised.
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on June 25, 2014
The best available biography of one of the 19th century's most interesting people. Written clearly and cleanly, with none of the sensationalism and wild speculation that make other bios, like Barbara Goldsmith's "Other Voices," so untrustworthy. If you read one book about Woodhull, make it this one.
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on December 10, 2012
THIS IS A WELL WRITTEN ACCOUNT OF A WOMAN DRIVEN TO IMPROVE THE ATTITUDES AND PRACTICES OF WOMEN BEGINNING IN 1870 UNTIL HER DEATH I N 1927. THE AUTHOR PRESENTS THIS TRUE STORY WITH COLORFUL FACTS AND DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS ON A TIMELINE OF HISTORY THAT RELATES THE PRESSURES AND INFLUENCES OF OUR MALE-DOMINATED SOCIETY. THE CHALLENGES SHE FACED IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE IN ORDER TO PRESENT HER PHILOSOPHY OF A WOMAN'S EQUAL CITIZENSHIP AND HER VIEW OF FREE LOVE DID NOT REWARD HER WITH THE RESPECT OF OTHERS. THE SUFFRAGISTS EVEN SCORNED HER CONTRIBUTIONS. FEARLESSLY, SHE WAS A WRITER, A PUBLISHER, THE FIRST WOMAN WALL STREET BROKER, A BANK OWNER, THE FIRST WOMAN TO MAKE AN ATTEMPT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT AND BEAUTIFUL BESIDES. TOTALLY ENJOYED THE WRITING STYLE AND RESEARCH IN THIS BOOK.
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on January 4, 2013
I had read snipets about Victoria Woodhull in several books about the spiritualist craze in the late 1800's and wanted to know her full story. This book was very entertaining and I learned a lot about her life and the reasons behind some of her actions. Her only crime, in my opinion, was being born 100 years too soon. She was outspoken and articulate, her "shameful" behavior would be viewed as average now, even conservative. The book was as revealing about the times as about the woman, and worth reading just for that.
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