4 out of 4 stars
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Promised Lands: MOLLIE WALSH is a book that tells the story of the eponymous protagonist. For those who don't know who Mollie Walsh was, she was a fantastic woman of Irish origin who lived in the late 19th century. She was an enterprising woman and way ahead of her time who was successful in several businesses (in various locations) and experienced the famous Gold Rush of 1897-1898. Just as her life was amazing, she had a tragic end, but it's not worth giving more spoilers here.
In addition to this biographical content, the book features hundreds of illustrations of socioeconomic aspects of the time, maps, and photos of the characters mentioned. There are also psychological, social, and economic analyses. The analysis of what motivated husbands to be aggressive with their wives and the reason for many suicides is top-notch and will make the reader reflect.
I especially liked how the author told a story of commonplace events in American history (gold rushes and Americans trying to ascend the economic ladder) through a female lens. Detailing Mollie's life is vital to make people even more aware of the need to empathize with women and understand the origins of institutions and behaviors that are highly oppressive. It is not about political correctness but human dignity in its primary sense.
I must clarify that this is not an easy book to read or even "fun" in the vulgar sense of the word. This trait is not a defect in itself, but it will undoubtedly drastically reduce the number of people who will enjoy all the positive things this work offers. The detailed descriptions of the standard of living of working women and the comparison with the average of the present day will seem monotonous to many. I can't take this as a negative thing because the author's idea of giving voice to forgotten women appeals to me so much. I also liked how Art Petersen showed that prejudice against women in the job market had been around for a long time. However, it is necessary to have a keen intellectual curiosity to not get tired.
Promised Lands: MOLLIE WALSH is a book with feminist content that describes in detail what life was like for European immigrants (especially women) in past centuries. It is an educational, deep, and thought-provoking work. There's nothing to criticize other than a few grammatical errors that don't amount to 5. Therefore, I rate it four out of four stars. Feminists, historians, and even social scientists will marvel at the content of this work. Unfortunately, this is not an easy-to-read book that will appeal to many people. The author couldn't do anything different as any change would fatally affect the quality.
Promised Lands: MOLLIE WALSH
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