TEXAS TORNADO: The Autobiography of a Crusader for Women's Rights and Family Justice

Louise Ballerstedt Raggio, Author, Vivian Anderson Castleberry, With, Ann Richards, Foreword by with Vivian Anderson Castleberry, foreword by Ann Richards. Citadel $24.95 (292p) ISBN 978-0-8065-2448-1

Best known for her work reforming married women's legal status in Texas, Raggio has enjoyed a reputation as a compassionate specialist in family law and, in her later years, has "come out of the closet" as a feminist. As she gleefully admits, when she started practicing law in 1953, such a practice was actually illegal, since as a married woman in Texas she didn't have the right to enter into contracts without her husband's signature. Once her career was launched, however, the reform of Texas's family code became her top priority and her most significant achievement. Raggio starts this autobiography with her birth in 1919 and her girlhood on her family's farm, learning how to make do. Talented in school, she made the most of that, too, even if it wasn't appropriate for a girl to attend college and excel. She married and had a child just as the U.S. entered WWII; her discussion of the stress of living through this war and its aftermath is the most dramatic chapter of her life story. After her husband was red-baited out of his postwar job, he pushed Raggio to go to law school. It was a struggle making ends meet at home, and being a female, sometimes pregnant, law student, but Raggio prevailed. A quiet pragmatist, she describes her life as one of "protective coloration," which, for the careful reader, may be more appealing than a tornado. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Mar. 5)

Reviewed on: 02/03/2003
Release date: 02/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-8065-2452-8
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