Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Wicked Women: Notorious, Mischievous, and Wayward Ladies from the Old West (Chris Enss)

Wicked Women: Notorious, Mischievous, and Wayward Ladies from the Old West
Chris Enss
Nonfiction, History
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: In 19th century America, many a starry-eyed man headed westward in search of gold, land, or simply a new start. Women headed west, too - not all of them prim and proper wives. Among the few opportunities for ladies were the card tables and the brothel... and, here, some managed to parlay poor circumstances into remarkable fortunes and legendary reputations. This book gathers tales of many "wicked" women of the Old West, from familiar names like Calamity Jane and Belle Starr to more obscure figures.

REVIEW: This looked like an interesting read, not to mention good story-sparking fodder. As promised, Enss offers profiles of many ladies of ill-repute. However, the quality of the articles varies wildly; some are fairly coherent histories, while others are merely thin sketches, with so little actual information on the woman in question that one wonders why Enss included them at all. He also tries a little too hard in places, most notably when he tries to set the scene at the start of each article - his strong suit is research, not prose. The stories often bleed together, though some few tales are unique enough to stand out in the memory. Overall, it's a decent look at a part of American history (and women's history) that classrooms often overlook, but little more than that.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the Wild West (Candy Moulton) - My Review
Letters of a Woman Homesteader (Elinore Pruitt Stewart) - My Review
Insubordinate Spirit (Missy Wolfe) - My Review

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