The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown

Knopf. May 2019. 448p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781101875261. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101875278. HIST
Starting in the mid-19th century, Chinese immigrants arrived in California to participate in the Gold Rush and work on the Transcontinental Railroad. The vast majority were men, and thus a lucrative human trafficking operation developed that smuggled Chinese women and girls to the United States, forcing them to work in brothels or as domestic servants. Journalist Siler (The Lost Kingdom) tells the story of the Occidental Mission Home, established in San Francisco in 1874, that worked to free these women. The staff and clients confronted many challenges: dangerous escapes, threats from organized crime, court battles, the 1906 earthquake, and more. Siler highlights a variety of individuals involved, but the most prominently mentioned are Donaldina Cameron, who started at the home in 1895 and later served as director for more than 30 years, and her long-serving aide Tien Fuh Wu. In 1942, the mission was renamed Cameron House and continues to operate today.
VERDICT This thoroughly researched work is highly recommended for those interested in the Chinese American experience or the history of San Francisco. [See Prepub Alert, 11/12/18.]

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