The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried To Make Her Disappear

Blackstone. Jun. 2021. 14:36 hrs. ISBN 9798200696864. $22.95. HIST
Moore (The Radium Girls) delivers an absolutely fantastic narration of her biography of Elizabeth Packard, a 19th-century reformer who deserves to be a household name. In 1860, Packard and her minister husband Theophilus were living with their six children in Illinois when Theophilus had his wife committed to an asylum because her liberal religious and social views clashed with his conservative ones. At the time, male family members, especially husbands, had almost unlimited power to have their female relatives institutionalized for presumed insanity. After being a dutiful wife and mother for more than two decades, Packard was taken to an asylum over 200 miles away from her home and her beloved children, just for disagreeing with her husband. She endured three years of barbaric treatments and horrific living conditions in the asylum before she secured her freedom and dedicated her life to helping “her sisters” by achieving significant legislative wins that strengthened the rights of married women and asylum patients. Moore heavily quotes passages from primary sources like trial transcripts, government reports, and personal letters, but the riveting narrative still flows smoothly—a testament to Moore’s skill as an author and a narrator.
VERDICT This brilliant story of one woman’s amazing perseverance is guaranteed to inspire all those who continue Packard’s fight for social reform and true gender equality.
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