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From French Community to Missouri Town: Ste. Genevieve in the Nineteenth Century Hardcover – September 1, 2006

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A fresh look at the transition of settlements in frontier areas. The author cogently contends that custom and habits ruled the lives of people in Ste. Genevieve, not law imposed from the outside.”—R. Douglas Hurt, author of Nathan Boone and the American Frontier

“This is no garden-variety local history narrative. The author’s nuanced account of Ste. Genevieve’s gradual evolution from a French village into an American town skillfully captures the complexities of that transformation and provides important insights about American democracy.”—William E. Foley, author of Wilderness Journey: The Life of William Clark

About the Author

Bonnie Stepenoff is Professor of History at Southeast Missouri State University and author of Thad Snow: A Life of Social Reform in the Missouri Bootheel (University of Missouri Press) and Their Fathers’ Daughters: Silk Mill Workers in Northeastern Pennsylvania, 1880–1960. She lives in Cape Girardeau.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri (September 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826216684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826216687
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,319,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I'm on page 177 and I wasn't going to review this book, but this statement just floors me and compels me to do so:

"Although many people worked hard at physically demanding tasks, they did not understand the need for regular exercise." This statement, along with many others which are far too common for a university-press published book, just left me slack-jawed in amazement. The book desperately needs some serious editing. My take on the book is that the author has no idea at all how condescendingly she writes. She is looking back in history and applying current standards and beliefs to past times where such standards have no application at all.

Here are some other gems:

"Life on the frontier could be precarious, but the real threat to Ste. Genevieve came from the unpredictable Mississippi River." - p. 15. Really? Life on the frontier was precarious? Who knew? And the Mississippi floods? Really? Wow.

"Even in Ste. Genevieve, the French liked to build their homes far apart." - p. 16.
The author makes no case for this - nowhere does she demonstrate that the French in other locations built their houses either close together or far apart.

"[Finiels] described Point Basse, the big field, which produced huge harvests, except when the river flooded. Despite the constant peril, farmers returned season after season to plant crops in the incomparably rich soil." - p. 17
Hmmm ... a field which produces "huge" crops except when the river flooded. No!! Incomparably rich soil? Bottom land is almost always richer than upland - that's why farmers plant crops there.

"At the time of his death in 1848, the total value of Sargent's estate exceeded ten thousand dollars. He was a wealthy man." p. 49.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I feel compelled to respond to the previous review, apparently posted in an extended fit of irritation by someone who wasn't paying close enough attention to any given sentence to remember what had just been said. In the course of ten years of research in American social history, I have read several dozen books dealing with the impact of social change on communities and on the lives of ordinary citizens, and "From French Community to Missouri Town" is an honorable member of that company. Stepenoff may not be David Hackett Fischer, or Rhys Isaac, or Mechal Sobel, but she provides an interesting and informative look at a corner of American history that most people have never heard of. The picture she paints is one of an isolated outpost of French-American culture in the Mississippi valley, strikingly different in many respects from the Anglo-American culture that was soon to overwhelm it. She illuminates the differences in the status of women, the status of free people of color, and the relationships of white citizens with Native Americans, between the French-American and Anglo-American communities, and the ways in which those relationships changed as one culture superseded the other. I have found this book useful in connection with my own writing, as I attempted to understand how contact with this tolerant and multicultural community might have affected my own Missouri ancestors. There are more comprehensive and more scholarly works available on this topic, but this one is a brief and readable introduction.

Some of the comments in the previous review are simply puzzling.
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