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A Woman's Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot [Hardcover]

Mary Walton

Price: £19.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

27 Aug 2010

Alice Paul began her life as a quiet girl from a strict Quaker family in New Jersey. But as a young woman, an interest in social work brought her to England, where she apprenticed with the militant suffrage movement there, led by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters. Upon her return to the United States, Alice founded her own suffrage movement. Calling themselves 'Silent Sentinels,' she and her followers were the first protestors to picket the White House. Behind bars, they went on hunger strikes and were force-fed and brutalized. Years before Gandhi's campaign of nonviolent resistance, and decades before civil rights demonstrations, Alice Paul and her followers practiced peaceful civil disobedience. In 1920, a woman's right to vote finally became law.  In celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Sentinels' great victory, here at last is the inspiring story of the woman who dedicated her life to winning universal suffrage for women and helped propel that dream to reality.

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'A Woman's Crusade is a biography richly endowed with research, giving the reader dense, detailed, absorbing accounts of seemingly every march, demonstration and congressional hearing that Alice Paul either conceived or influenced... I value the book for introducing her [Mary Walton] to the next generation of feminists with a taste for revolution.' - Ms. Magazine, Vivian Gornick

'Exciting, well-written' -Friends Journal

Book Description

"Alice Paul was a visionary and a pioneer....[H]er struggle for women's rights was built on the premise that no society or nation can reach its full potential if half of the population is left behind." - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-deserved tribute to Alice Paul 3 Oct 2010
By Nathaniel Levin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"A Woman's Crusade" is a recently published book by Mary Walton. It tells the story of Alice Paul and her leadership of the National Woman's Pary in the fight for women's voting rights in the United States.

This is a well-written, readable book, accessible to the general reader. There has never before been such a book about Alice Paul, and Mary Walton deserves praise for according Paul the recognition in book form that was missing for such a long time.

Most of the book is taken up with details of the work of Paul and her allies in the period of 1913 to 1920, when the struggle for a federal suffrage amendment was at its height. For a suffrage buff like me, it was fascinating to learn about specific problems that Paul faced in organizing the great suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. in March 1913. The parade itself and the near-riot that ensued brought immense publicity to the suffrage cause.

Paul was remarkably adept at generating constant newspaper coverage and public attention for the campaign to adopt what became the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Paul understood that ever-greater spectacle and sensation were needed to keep the suffrage issue in the forefront of the public's mind. Her tactics escalated to fierce criticism of President Woodrow Wilson, picketing of the White House, unjust arrest and imprisonment of Paul and her allies, hunger strikes, forced feedings and harsh mistreatment in prison of the militant suffragists.

Walton's account can be read as implying that Paul's militant tactics, single-minded leadership, the personal martyrdom through mistreatment of Paul and the other militants, and the resulting crescendo of publicity, were the key factors in bringing about the ultimate victory of the suffrage forces.

There is, however, a competing and more complicated narrative.

Both Alice Paul's supporters in the National Woman's Party and the adherents of Carrie Chapman Catt's NAWSA (National American Woman Suffrage Association) wrote histories of the suffrage victory. In these histories, each camp slighted and minimized the contributions made by the other group. Many more recent accounts of the suffrage movement tend to adopt the preferred narrative of one camp or the other and thus fail to present a complete picture. This is not the case, however, in the classic "Century of Struggle" by Eleanor Flexner, which is still--more than 50 years after its original publication--the one essential book about the suffrage movement in the U.S.

Flexner's account gives high marks to Alice Paul for breathing life into the federal amendment campaign and for the personal sacrifices and the persecution that Paul and her followers suffered for what now are recognized as lawful protest tactics. But Flexner also accords great praise to the leadership of Carrie Chapman Catt, and suggests that she and her organization, with its hundreds of thousands of "feet on the street", were even more vital in harvesting the pro-suffrage sentiment that the militants did so much to generate.

I could write at length about particular topics in the suffrage fight that are told quite differently in Flexner's account than in Walton's. But in any case, Walton's book deserves a wide readership and tells a stirring version of the suffrage battle, as seen from the militants' point of view. At long last there is now a good biography of Alice Paul, and that is something to be glad about, for all lovers of women's history.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wished I would of read it years ago 31 Oct 2011
By osflies - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well written historic account of the suffragette movement in the states. A real page turner, Mary Walton knows how to tell a story! Alice Paul's story was exhilarating and left me with a great sense of pride for her and the young women who dedicated themselves to this movement. Thanks for getting us the vote!! I will never take it for granted after having read this. I will say, I am appalled at how little I knew about the fight for women's suffrage prior to reading this book. I read this for a book club and I will speak for all of us - none of us knew 1/2 of the struggle these women went through and the book club has members male and female from age 27 to 55. Shame on the schools for not teaching this better.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much new here. 30 Dec 2010
By stpauley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As the review in Ms. Magazine pointed out last summer, the Walton biography of Alice Paul has very little new to say about this little-known personality. The HBO production Iron-Jawed Angels; Robert Cooney's Winning the Vote, which gives a good general account of both Alice Paul's Woman's Party and Carrie Chapman Catt's NAWSA and their contributions; Linda Ford's Iron-Jawed Angels, Christine Lunardini's From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights, Doris Stevens' Jailed for Freedom as well as other books about the woman suffrage movement have all given us the broad strokes about Alice Paul and her work. There are, of course, many people who have not heard of Alice Paul and her contribution to suffrage and for these people, the Walton book is valuable.

There still is no full-fledged biography of Alice Paul which answers the questions which have been raised about her: how did she rise to the top so quickly in the suffrage movement(she seems to come out of nowhere in 1913)? How did she inspire her followers--she was reportedly a retiring personality?

We will have to await a work that does more than scratch the surface for the answers to those questions.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Well-told biography of a little-known Suffragist 17 Feb 2011
By Bob and Elsa Pendleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mary Walton knows how to tell a story, and she has found a worthy subject in Alice Paul. Lost in the history of the struggle for women's rights, Paul devoted her life to the battle to wind equality for women. Prickly, rather humorless, but dedicated and energetic, not to mention single-minded, Alice Paul created memorably-staged demonstrations and campaigns to win the votes needed to allow women access to the ballot box.
I'm recommending this book to my daughters-in-law and granddaughters, who need to know how difficult and dangerous this effort really was.
Thanks, Mary Walton, for an excellent job!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible that such an important person could be so unknown to so many 3 Jun 2012
By B. Bridges - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In a nutshell: A superbly researched, exciting, inspiring book about an awesome woman to whom all women in the United States owe an enormous debt.

And yet, while reading this book I've asked many, mostly women, had they heard of Alice Paul? I've yet to find one. It's mind boggling.

I've read the one review saying the other group pushing for suffrage was probably equally important. Given the closeness of the vote, I'd say this must be true. But, by the same token, this also means that without Alice Paul, women's suffrage may well have taken another 20 years or more. The ignorance and prejudice that had to be overcome was enormous.

And yes, there were other women helping her who were incredibly important. But she was the core.

The book explains (and the movie doesn't) why she was instantly sought after by other suffrage proponents in the US when she returned from England. She had spent several years in England working with the leaders of that movement where she basically earned a degree in promoting a movement; organizing, demonstrating, going to jail, enduring hunger strikes and garnering publicity for that movement and herself.

I found the first two chapters (giving her college and her work for suffrage in England) and from chapter 10 to the end to be a gripping read. Chapters 3 through 9 gave a lot of detail of the long, almost boring period in the middle of the campaign. I'm not discouraging anyone from reading these chapters because they provide some wonderful insight into what happened later. But, if you find your interest lagging, please don't put the book down, just skip to chapter 10 where you will find an exciting, emotion generating page turner that equals or exceeds the best fiction.
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