Rebel Cinderella: Rose Pastor Stokes: Sweatshop Immigrant, Aristocrat’s Wife, Socialist Crusader

Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781328866745. $30. BIOG
With his latest work, Hochschild (King Leopold’s Ghost) brings us the life of Rose Pastor Stokes (1879–1933). A Russian Jew, Pastor immigrated to the United States as a child with her destitute family. She started working in cigar factories at 11, but her love of poetry eventually led to a career writing a women’s column for a Yiddish newspaper in New York. On assignment to interview Graham Phelps Stokes, a millionaire dabbling in social work at settlement homes, she fell in love and the two quickly married, stunning the nation. The firestorm of publicity followed the couple for years as they became involved in socialism and progressive causes. Pastor was a leading speaker and writer who raised significant funds and attention to causes such as immigrant poverty, labor unions, birth control, and women’s suffrage. During World War I, Graham’s politics veered to the right and the couple eventually divorced. Pastor’s career ended, and she died of cancer in poverty.
VERDICT Lucidly written and painstakingly researched, this is a joy to read, cementing Pastor in her rightful place with other progressive figures of the time.
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