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The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age by [MacPherson, Myra]

The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Sensational doesn’t begin to describe the over-the-top reaction that greeted every aspect of the lives of nineteenth-century America’s two most controversial sisters. Flamboyant, outspoken, opportunistic Victoria Claflin Woodhull and her younger sister, Tennie, were self-aggrandizing scene-stealers who tangled with Henry Ward Beecher, swindled Cornelius Vanderbilt, and antagonized Susan B. Anthony. Yet for all their pomp and bombast, they were unrepentant champions of equal rights for women in everything from the bedroom to the boardroom, the voting booth to the battlefield. Dismissively patronized by men for being empty-headed fripperies and scathingly ostracized by women for their unladylike bravura, the sisters courageously battled such defamatory characterizations to bring their controversial views on monogamy and suffrage to packed lecture halls throughout the country. MacPherson draws a detailed portrait of the roller-coaster, rags-to-riches lives of two backwoods country girls who, seeking to better their own situation, hoped to do the same for women everywhere. Sadly, MacPherson concludes, many of their causes remain little changed 150 years after their tireless campaigns began. --Carol Haggas


"If the subject of Gilded Age women brings to mind buccaneers in gently rustling hoop skirts rather than feminist firebrands, Myra MacPherson's fascinating dual biography...may go a long way in changing that."―

"In this sweeping, engaging new biography, Myra MacPherson chronicles lives that intersected with nearly all of the era's great themes and famous figures."―Boston Globe

"[In] MacPherson's enchanting dual biography...the epilogue hammers home that even in 2014 men use women's bodies as political bargaining chips."―The Washington Post

"A lively account of the unlikely lives of the two most symbiotic and scandalous sisters in American History."―The New Yorker

"'MacPherson crusades' for 19th century feminists."―Vanity Fair

"MacPherson, an award-winning journalist, takes a theatrical approach to these radical proceedings. She provides a cast of characters and unfolds the sisters' story over the course of five irresistible 'acts.' This is a grand tale presented on a grand scale."―Bookpage

"MacPherson aims her wit and very sharp pen at a side of the suffrage movement rarely seen in history books, epitomized by these two real sisters...she takes us on a raucous romp through secret trysts, their self-published weekly advocating free speech and free love, sensational trials, fortune-telling, Spiritualism and brushes with the most powerful capitalists and revolutionaries of the time. Along the way the sisters set the suffrage movement on fire--albeit briefly--with their modern ideas, fiery rhetoric and passion for women's rights."―Los Angeles Daily Journal

"Sensational...MacPherson gives a detailed portrait of the roller-coaster, rags-to-riches lives of two backwoods country girls, who, seeking to better their own situation, hoped to do the same for women everywhere..."―Booklist

"As someone who reads everything that is published about American women's history, I give THE SCARLET SISTERS my seal of approval. In fact, I think I'm going to read it again! It is that good."―Bookreporter

"Ordinarily, one would look to the fiction of Twain or Dickens to find a nineteenth-century tale to match the real-life saga of the sisters Claflin-Woodhull. Happily, Myra MacPherson has rediscovered these proto-feminists. Their rebellion against Victorian sexual enslavement and the power of white males captivated and infuriated their contemporaries for good reason, and left a mark that resonates today."―Carl Bernstein, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton, and coauthor of All the President's Men (with Bob Woodward)

Product details

  • File Size: 5538 KB
  • Print Length: 404 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve (March 4, 2014)
  • Publication Date: March 4, 2014
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #508,439 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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