Vessel of Wrath: The Life and Times of Carry Nation

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New American Library, 1966 - Prohibitionists - 373 pages
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"In the long and painful annals of good works," Robert Lewis Taylor begins this dual portrait of a woman and an age, "no name leaps out with more concussive impact than that of Carry Nation." The Pulitzer-prize-winning novelist and biographer tells Nation's whole remarkable story--as well as the story of her turbulent era, raucous with hymn singing and gunfighting, rampant with high ideals and low politics. Carry Nation and her hatchet have long passed into legend, but at the turn of the century, this extraordinary phenomenon was the most discussed woman in the world. She was a force to be reckoned with, fought against, fled from, or fervently admired. Kansas tenaciously survived the Daltons, the James brothers, and Belle Starr, but its marshals, its judges, its rough-and-ready populace had never been called upon to deal with anyone quite like "stand up and fight" Carry Nation. America's most uninhibited crusader was born into a family of oddities. One of her aunts made repeated attempts to convert herself into a weathervane. Carry's mother firmly believed herself to be Queen Victoria. As a child, Carry had "visions"; as an adult, she was sane, if rigorously single-minded, in her determination to reform. She carried her free-swinging campaign against drink, tobacco, sex, the Masonic Lodge, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and many more, far and wide. Carry Nation swung her hatchet from the brawling Wichita of Wyatt Earp to the Tenderloin of New York, to the halls of Yale and Harvard, to the far corners of America, and overseas to a bemused Old World. Thanks to a masculine bias of the period against shooting women, she not only survived, she thrived to demolish saloons, insult judges, defy sheriffs, and terrorize bartenders. She invaded the most sacred of male preserves--and she inspired women everywhere to revolt. Even today, for readers accustomed to all the varieties of public protest, her exploits can only produce a kind of awed wonder. In magnificently capturing Carry Nation and her world, Robert Lewis Taylor has created a work no lover of true Americana can afford to miss. Marvelously detailed, delightfully witty, this is an altogether spellbinding biography by a major American author.--Adapted from jacket.

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