American Priestess: The Extraordinary Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem

Jane Fletcher Geniesse, Author . Doubleday/Talese $26 (378p) ISBN 978-0-385-51926-7

Anna Øglende Spafford’s life was a classic 19th-century epic, related perceptively by Geniesse. Born in Norway in 1842, she came to the United States as a child, buried her father on the Minnesota prairie, then married evangelical lawyer Horatio Spafford in Chicago. Somewhat unhinged by the Great Chicago Fire, bankruptcy and a shipwreck that drowned four of their daughters, the couple founded a Protestant sect called the Saints; hounded by creditors, they absconded to Jerusalem in 1881 with a handful of followers to await the Second Coming. With Horatio’s death, Anna tightened her grip on her “American Colony” cult, abolished marriage and reshuffled couples into chaste “affinities.” Then she turned her sect into a business empire, including a profitable hotel, farms, bakeries and Jerusalem’s first telephone company, all staffed by Swedish converts. Whew! “There are neither villains nor saints in this story,” notes Geniesse (Passionate Nomad ), setting her sprightly account against the era’s Christian Zionism and millennial hysterias. Geniesse paints her charismatic heroine as part ur-feminist survivor, part totalitarian despot. (June 17)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Show other formats
FORMATS
Paperback - 378 pages - 978-0-307-27772-5
Open Ebook - 289 pages - 978-0-385-52668-5
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.