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Rebel Cinderella: From Rags to Riches to Radical, the Epic Journey of Rose Pastor Stokes
by Adam Hochschild

Published: 2020-03-03
Hardcover : 320 pages
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From the best-selling author of King Leopold's Ghost and Spain in Our Hearts comes the astonishing but forgotten story of an immigrant sweatshop worker who married an heir to a great American fortune and became one of the most charismatic radical leaders of her time.

Rose Pastor arrived ...
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Introduction

From the best-selling author of King Leopold's Ghost and Spain in Our Hearts comes the astonishing but forgotten story of an immigrant sweatshop worker who married an heir to a great American fortune and became one of the most charismatic radical leaders of her time.

Rose Pastor arrived in New York City in 1903, a Jewish refugee from Russia who had worked in cigar factories since the age of eleven. Two years later, she captured headlines across the globe when she married James Graham Phelps Stokes, scion of one of the legendary 400 families of New York high society. Together, this unusual couple joined the burgeoning Socialist Party and, over the next dozen years, moved among the liveliest group of activists and dreamers this country has ever seen. Their friends and houseguests included Emma Goldman, Big Bill Haywood, Eugene V. Debs, John Reed, Margaret Sanger, Jack London, and W.E.B. Du Bois. Rose stirred audiences to tears and led strikes of restaurant waiters and garment workers. She campaigned alongside the country’s earliest feminists to publicly defy laws against distributing information about birth control, earning her notoriety as “one of the dangerous influences of the country” from President Woodrow Wilson. But in a way no one foresaw, her too-short life would end in the same abject poverty with which it began.

By a master of narrative nonfiction, Rebel Cinderella unearths the rich, overlooked life of a social justice campaigner who was truly ahead of her time.

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Excerpt

Tsar and Queen

Until the First World War redrew national borders in Europe, Augustów, a trading center for cattle and the region’s small, wiry horses, lay in imperial Russia. Today it is in the far northeast corner of Poland. Augustów was a garrison town when Rose—?Raisel in Yiddish—Wieslander was born there in 1879. “I slipped into the world,” she would later claim, “while my mother was on her knees, scrubbing the floor.” One of her earliest memories was of the clatter of iron horseshoes on cobblestones as the tsar’s cavalry swept across the town’s wide market square. “One voice, ringing steel, commands. Men and horses swing and whisk and turn and gallop, stop suddenly, race, and disappear with a cra-kerra! Kerreka-Kerreka!?” ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLISHER:

Why has Rose’s story been overlooked until now?

Do you think America has forgotten its labor movement and its heroes?

Are unions viewed unfavorably? If so, why do you think that is?

Are we witnessing the dawn of a revived labor movement?

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