Mies Van Der Rohe

Front Cover
Sandra Dachs, Patricia de Muga, Laura García Hintze
Distributed Art Pub Incorporated, 2010 - Art - 127 pages
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The Long Path From Material Through Function to Creative Work Has Only a Single Goal: To Create Order Out of the Desperate Confusion of Our Time. We Must Have Order, Allocating to Each Thing Its Proper Place and Giving to Each Thing Its Due According to Its Nature.

We Would Do This So Perfectly That the World of Our Creations Will Blossom From Within.

We Want No More; We Can Do No More. Nothing Can Express the Aim and Meaning of Our Work Better Than the Profound Words of St. Augustine: "Beauty is the Splendor of Truth." Mies Van Der Rohe

"The Great Divorce is much more than a fascinating account of a woman's trailblazing battle for her children.... Woo brings the past to life in all its wonderful strangeness, complexity, and verve. This is what history is all about."---Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award---winning author of In the Heart of the Sea

"A writer of extraordinary empathy and great resourcefulness, Ilyon Woo has transformed a neglected historical record into a vivid evocation of an era and an amazing tribute to a remarkably tenacious woman, Eunice Chapman. Meticulously researched and compellingly narrated, The Great Divorce will stand in the pantheon of American women's history writing."---John Matteson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father

"Ilyon Woo has taken the stuff of obscure history and transformed it into a gripping drama that resonates with our own world.... A heart-warming, finely written story of one woman's battle against fanaticism."---Simon Worrall, author of The Poet and the Murderer

"American history, law, religion, and politics all come alive in this poignant account of an abandoned woman's rescue of her children in the first decades of the nineteenth century.... Ilyon Woo tells a story that every American should want to read."---Robert A. Ferguson, author of The American Enlightenment, 1750-1820

"A gripping read ... That Woo succeeds in making the reader sympathize with Eunice Chapman is not surprising; that she also makes the reader feel empathy for the Shakers and the troubled James Chapman is a measure of her masterful and sensitive storytelling."---Glendyne Wergland, author of One Shaker Life: Isaac Newton Youngs, 1793-1865

"The Great Divorce is a superb book---masterfully written, deeply suspenseful, and filled with fascinating facts and insights. American history would be everyone's favorite subject if more historians wrote like this. Woo is a writer to watch."---Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

On a peak fall day in 1814, when America was a nation at war, a young mother named Eunice Chapman returned home in upstate New York to discover that her three young children had been carried off by her estranged, alcoholic husband. He had taken them, she learned, to live among a celibate, religious people known as the Shakers.

This should have been the end of the story. Married women were considered "civilly dead" before the law, and were unable to own property or even testify against their husbands---much less lay claim to their children, who were the exclusive property of their fathers. But Eunice was determined to win back her children, no matter the cost.

Thus began an epic five-year quest in which Eunice single-handedly challenged her husband, the Shakers, and the law in her fight to reclaim her children.

A famously petite and lovely woman, Eunice courted politicians in the New York State Legislature, penned sensationalist narratives depicting the Shakers as villains, and pitted herself against not only the dominant culture of her times, but also another charismatic woman: Mother Lucy Wright, the supreme head of the Shakers and one of the most powerful women in the country.

In its confrontation of some of the country's most fundamental debates---religious freedom, feminine virtue, the sanctity of marriage---Eunice's case struck a nerve with Americans plagued by uncertainty in the early days of the republic (luminaries Thomas Jefferson and Martin Van Buren among them). All of Albany was rapt during the uproarious hearings on this case, in which sex, among other topics, was so hotly discussed that lawmakers walked out of the House. The case's culmination in a stunning legislative decision and a terrifying mob attack sent shockwaves through the Shaker community and the nation beyond.

Pulling together the pieces of this saga from crumbled newspapers, Shaker diaries, and long-forgotten letters, Ilyon Woo delivers the first full account of Eunice Chapman's remarkable struggle with a novelist's eye and a historian's perspective. A moving story about the power of a mother's love, The Great Divorce is also a memorable portrait of a rousing challenge to the values of a young nation.

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About the author (2010)

Ilyon Woo holds a B.A. in the Humanities from Yale College and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University. She lives in New York with her husband and two young sons.

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