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Soiled Doves: Prostitution in the Early West (Women of the West) Paperback – June 1, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Soiled Doves: Prostitution in the Early West (Women of the West)
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  • Upstairs Girls: Prostitution in the American West
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  • Boudoirs to Brothels: The Intimate World of Wild West Women
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Product Details

  • Series: Women of the West
  • Paperback: 175 pages
  • Publisher: Gem Guides Book Co; First Edition edition (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 096190884X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0961908843
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #139,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Desoer on June 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book provides a glimpse into a fairly unusual topic: prositution in the "Wild West" of the 1800's. It covers the gamut, from the elite sophisticated brothels with the top-notch "girls," to the hovels near the mining towns and the Chinese slave-girls which catered to men near Chinatown of San Francisco. It is chock-full of photographs, excerpts from old newspaper articles and other interesting side-bars.
This is not a dense, academic study, but an easy-to-read overview. At times it is a tad disorganized, but it is such a quick read that this does detract much. The only criticism that I have is that the writer waffles between glamorizing the life of some of the "luckier" prostitutes, and asserting that they most led lives that ended with suicide.
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Format: Paperback
Soiled Doves was a well written and informative view of 19th century prostitution in the United States. Readers will smile, cry, and become angry, as each of the stories unfold. "The Love Story of Lottie Johl" is a haunting story which relates the full spectrum of the human condition, and relates how humanity can be so incredibly cruel to others, those individuals that were simply trying to make a way for themselves in the west. The lives of many women were explored in Soiled Doves. The stories were tastefully written and a delight to read. After reading Soiled Doves, one develops a different, more forgiving, view of prostitution and the ladies who were employed in it during the 1800s. Soiled Doves is a "must read" if the reader has an appreciation for American History and the role prostitution played in its development.
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Format: Paperback
The author's list of acknowledgements fills a page at the opening of this historical account of prostitution in the early West. She has clearly done her research. And her book is a window into a subject often alluded to in the literature of the frontier but seldom if ever revealed in any depth.
The West was a man's world where, according to Seagrave, men often outnumbered women 50 to 1. Employment opportunities being few for uneducated young women, a great many found their way to the brothels in the red light districts of cities, cow towns and mining camps. The author describes these establishments from the most genteel down to the most squalid. She also characterizes the role of the madam, an entrepreneur whose business contributed to the local economy while being at the same time illegal and an object of outrage among the community's socially respectable.
Much of the book is devoted to profiles of individual madams, often known for their sharp business sense and their generosity, while contributing freely to local charitable organizations. The book includes many period photographs, including studio portraits of well established madams and the women who worked for them. One chapter is devoted to the special plight of Chinese prostitutes who lived under conditions of slavery in Western states into the early 20th century.
While the book is informative, a reader may sometimes question its accuracy as history. Myth and legend have a way of mingling with documented fact, and while all of this is interesting, the author isn't scrupulous about distinguishing between them. Because the book tends to dramatize the lives of the women it discusses, a reader looking for an analysis of prostitution in the larger picture of Western social history will probably find a lot of questions unanswered. Still, the book opens up a subject that is too seldom regarded with the historical interest it deserves.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up "Soiled Doves" while researching an upcoming novel that features a fictional character much like the real women Anne Seagraves describes in this short, entertaining book. My perpective ... both as a man and a writer 100 years later ... was greatly expanded by the stories she tells. For my own purposes, I had hoped for more detail about the day-to-day life of these women, but I still found an enormous amount of anecdotal information that suddenly made these women of "negotiable virtue" more human.
"Soiled Doves" is rare as a readable, interesting and generally well researched history. Mrs. Seagraves occasionally gets carried away with some interior perspectives that would rankle historical purists, but as a casual reader I was enlightened and entertained.
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Format: Paperback
I was very disappointed with this book. I was distracted by the numerous and glaring typos and felt like I was reading a book written on the 4th or 5th grade level. The childish and unsophisticated style of the writing was annoying and in my opinion, took credibility away from the author. This book is more of a quick fun read, rather than a serious source of historical information.
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By A Customer on September 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book because the subject matter sounded interesting. It was poorly written, badly researched, and very disappointing. I am not sure what book the other reviewers read but 1 star seemed excessive. A well written, adequately researched book on the subject would be fascinating. Don't waste your hard earned money on this puerile fluff.
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Format: Paperback
If you're interested in finding out about the lives of prostitutes in the early West, don't start here. If you'd like a little trivial fluff about some famous prostitutes and dance hall girls, go ahead, click the buy button. This is mostly a tabloid-type overview of the sensationalized lives of some (in)famous hookers. It reads like a very rudimentary senior thesis on the topic and borrows most of its substance from other books. The bibliography and resource lists for this book are far more useful than this book. Interested in the subject? Get the books that Seagraves used to research her flimsy book.
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