Alice Paul: Claiming Power

J.D. Zahniser and Amelia R. Fry. Oxford Univ, $34.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-199-95842-9
Zahniser and Fry’s biography shines a bright light on the “elusive” figure of suffragist Alice Paul (1885–1977). A woman whose life bridged the “first” and “second waves” of feminism, Paul was once a towering figure in American suffragist politics, having cut her teeth on the battle for women’s voting rights in Britain. The elegantly constructed narrative combines the filaments of Paul’s precocious life into an incisive tale, beginning with her Quaker upbringing and following her as she emerges as an activist and agitator. The book shows how Paul navigated the shoals of propriety, respectability, and the necessity of forthright activist tactics. In addition, Zahniser and Fry (who died in 2009) effectively explore the often forgotten warrens of feminist history and its intersections with world events, including WWI. The authors deserve credit for tackling the issue of racism within the suffrage movement, as well as Paul’s latent prejudices. While showing how Paul became a suffragist, and the battles that defined a generation of fractious feminist activism, the book leaves the rest of her long life, after 1920, to other scholars. This is not only the story of one person, but of her epoch and culture. Zahniser and Fry have done readers a profound service. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 07/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 408 pages - 978-0-19-093293-0
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