Rebel Cinderella
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.

Rebel Cinderella Details

TitleRebel Cinderella
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 3rd, 2020
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN-139781328866745
Rating
GenreBiography, History, Nonfiction, Biography Memoir, Historical

Rebel Cinderella Review

  • Mal Warwick
    January 1, 1970
    Youre unlikely ever to have come across her name before, but youll be fascinated by the remarkable story Berkeley author Adam Hochschild tells about her life in his latest excursion into popular history. Rose Pastor Stokes was one of the most famous and influential people, women OR men, during the crucial years that spanned the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson. From 1905 to 1921, she continuously captured newspaper headlines for her unlikely marriage to You’re unlikely ever to have come across her name before, but you’ll be fascinated by the remarkable story Berkeley author Adam Hochschild tells about her life in his latest excursion into popular history. Rose Pastor Stokes was one of the most famous and influential people, women OR men, during the crucial years that spanned the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson. From 1905 to 1921, she continuously captured newspaper headlines for her unlikely marriage to one of the country’s wealthiest men and her relentless campaign on behalf of the labor movement and socialism in America.Born Rose Wieslander to an Orthodox Jewish family in the Russian Empire (present-day Poland) in 1879, she emigrated with her mother to the United States in 1890. At the age of eleven she went to work in a New York cigar factory, and for the next twelve years she experienced the debilitating poverty, chronic hunger, and life-threatening working conditions that millions of other immigrants went through in Gilded Age America. As Hochschild notes, “cigar workers suffered the second-highest death rate from tuberculosis of any occupation in America; only stonecutters had it worse. . . All her adult life, she would be troubled by lung problems.” And like thousands of others, the experience radicalized her, pointing her in the direction of the growing socialist movement in America.“From rags to riches to radical”After a brief and unhappy marriage left her with the surname Pastor and little else, Rose stumbled into a romantic relationship with one of New York’s most eligible bachelors: James Graham Phelps Stokes. Graham Stokes was the scion of one of the wealthiest and most prominent families in America. (If you’re familiar with business, you may recall the name Phelps Dodge Corporation, a huge mining company that was only one source of the family’s wealth.) The two met when Graham became involved in the University Settlement House on the Lower East Side of Manhattan; Rose was assigned to interview him there for a newspaper.She and her millionaire husband promoted socialism in AmericaThe match was unlikely in several ways other than the economic disparity: he was seven years older and six-feet-four, more than a head taller than Rose; he was Episcopalian, she Jewish, at a time when antisemitism was rampant; and he held a bachelor’s degree from Yale and an M.D. from Columbia, while she had benefited from little formal education. Yet Graham harbored progressive sentiments highly unusual for his class and shared with Rose a conviction that revolution was necessary if not inevitable. The two fell in love and married, despite intensive opposition from his family — and Rose’s life for decades thereafter was never the same. The Phelps-Stokes-Dodge clan “had never imagined welcoming into its ranks an immigrant former cigar worker who had never finished elementary school.” Rose was Cinderella come to life.A decade in the American Socialist PartyRose and Graham’s engagement and wedding were front-page news, and their marriage became the source of endless fascination in the press for years to come. That fascination grew when both Rose and Graham joined the Socialist Party of Eugene V. Debs and the IWW of “Big Bill” Haywood; the two subsequently appeared jointly onstage at scores of public events for both organizations. However, the pair split from the Socialist Party in 1917; Graham enthusiastically supported the U.S. entry into World War I, and Rose reluctantly came to agree. (Not long afterward, Rose became a founding member of the American Communist Party.)A popular speaker at IWW and Socialist Party events across AmericaAlthough painfully shy at first, Rose soon proved herself to be a powerful and charismatic orator, routinely overshadowing other speakers, particularly her husband. For years she was one of the most sought-after attractions at socialist and labor gatherings, speaking either in English or in Yiddish. She was also a popular columnist in the Yiddish press, first in the Orthodox Yiddishes Tageblatt and later in the socialist Forverts (later the Jewish Daily Forward).A who’s who of the Left in the early 20th centuryDisplaying his customary skill at research, Hochschild brings Rose to life on the page with excerpts from her personal diary, her unfinished autobiography, and the abundant contemporary press accounts. During the two decades when she and Graham were together — they divorced in 1925 — they hosted many of the country’s most illustrious progressive intellectuals and social activists.They numbered among their friends for varying lengths of time Debs, Haywood, Emma Goldman, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, “Mother” Jones, Clarence Darrow, Margaret Sanger, Upton Sinclair, Jack London, and Max Eastman as well as Russian (later Soviet) author Maxim Gorky. By illustrating the interaction among these iconic figures, and describing Rose’s involvement in public debate about the leading issues of the day — the Panic of 1907, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, World War I, women’s suffrage, the post-war Red Scare — Hochschild opens the door on a colorful and consequential period in our nation’s history. Rebel Cinderella is popular history at its best.
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  • Bruce Katz
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 I've enjoyed Hochschild's books in the past. This one seemed like a slight step down -- somehow the whole didn't seem equal to the sum of its parts. The life of Rose Pastor Stokes forms the skeleton on which the book is built. She was an internationally known American figure at one time, but I had never heard of her. Her life was remarkable. Born in the late 19th century in the Pale -- that no man's land that was part-Russia, part-Poland, where Jews were settled -- she was brought to America 3.5 I've enjoyed Hochschild's books in the past. This one seemed like a slight step down -- somehow the whole didn't seem equal to the sum of its parts. The life of Rose Pastor Stokes forms the skeleton on which the book is built. She was an internationally known American figure at one time, but I had never heard of her. Her life was remarkable. Born in the late 19th century in the Pale -- that no man's land that was part-Russia, part-Poland, where Jews were settled -- she was brought to America as a child. She had almost no formal education but somehow managed to rise from working in a cigar "factory" to becoming a popular writer, marrying into one of the wealthiest (definitely not Jewish) families in America, and ultimately becoming a controversial actor in the American socialist movement. Hers is a story worth telling. Her life intersected with some of the major figures and movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The book covers aspects of American life, society, and culture that are nowhere near as widely known today as they should be. So many of the attitudes and legal protections that we take for granted today didn't exist at all then. Hundreds of thousands of people -- mostly immigrants -- lived in appallingly crowded city tenements where diseases spread unchecked. American workers had no protections at all. Men, women, and even children worked 12-16 hour days, six days a week, in horrible conditions. The pay was low pay, and they suffered astonishing rates of disabling injuries and death for which they had no legal remedy or recourse. Their attempts to organize and strike were met by violent repression by business owners and government officials that commonly led to protesters being beaten and shot to death. Despite this, a labor movement managed to form and grow. In this Gilded Age, the financial gap between ordinary Americans and the super-wealthy class of railroad barons and business owners was enormous. (Hochschild notes that we are in a similar situation today.) There was widespread racism and the kind of nationalism that vilified immigrants, particularly Jews, Italians, and Irish. Once World War One began, the repression of workers' movements expanded to a degree that would shock most readers today: people who spoke against the war, for example, were beaten and imprisoned, and newspapers and magazines were shut down. "Rebel Cinderella" captures all of these things and more -- the large national and international currents, the smaller tragedies and victories... Yet the book never quite came together for me. I'm not sure why. Still, I'm glad I read it. I'm glad to have been introduced to Ms. Stokes and to have been reminded of the battles that had to be fought to win so many of the things we enjoy today.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    This is the fourth book I've read by Adam Hochschild and the first disappointment. The unlikely marriage of Rose Pastor, a Jewish, poorly educated immigrant from the Lower East Side, and Graham Phelps Stokes, an enormously wealthy man from New York's high society, may have stirred emotions at the time. But, for me, Hochschild's writing does not bring either of them to life. If you are looking for a story that resonates years after finishing a book, I would strongly recommend his "King Leopold's This is the fourth book I've read by Adam Hochschild and the first disappointment. The unlikely marriage of Rose Pastor, a Jewish, poorly educated immigrant from the Lower East Side, and Graham Phelps Stokes, an enormously wealthy man from New York's high society, may have stirred emotions at the time. But, for me, Hochschild's writing does not bring either of them to life. If you are looking for a story that resonates years after finishing a book, I would strongly recommend his "King Leopold's Ghost" instead.
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  • Jonny Moskowitz
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating story that is sadly still poignant and relevant today. Another great read by Hochschild.
  • Rachael
    January 1, 1970
    This is a fascinating look at the life of Rose Pastor Stokes, who is largely forgotten today but was a leader of the left in her day.*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.
  • Paul Waibel
    January 1, 1970
    In a time when it was said that a womans name should appear in the newspapers only to announce her birth, engagement, marriage, and death, Rose Parker Stokes was the womans name most often appearing in American newspapers between 1918 and 1921. She was also the subject of a popular novel, Salome of the Tenements, published in 1922. Within less than a decade, her name disappeared from the public space, while the names of those who were key figures in her lifeEugene Debs, John Reed, Emma Goldman, In a time when it was said that a woman’s name should appear in the newspapers only to announce her birth, engagement, marriage, and death, Rose Parker Stokes was the woman’s name most often appearing in American newspapers between 1918 and 1921. She was also the subject of a popular novel, Salome of the Tenements, published in 1922. Within less than a decade, her name disappeared from the public space, while the names of those who were key figures in her life—Eugene Debs, John Reed, Emma Goldman, and others—have never disappeared from scholarly or popular attention. The assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881 was followed by a wave of pogroms during which “angry mobs rampage through towns, cities, and Jewish shtetls, or hamlets, raping women, looting shops and homes, and attacking Jews of all ages.” Pogroms against the Jews in Russia were nothing new. But the new repression that included new legal restrictions on the daily life of Jews and where they could live resulted in a wave of Jewish emigration to Western Europe and America. Rosa Harriet Wieslander, an orthodox Jewish refugee from the Jewish shtetl of Augustów, was only 11 years old when she arrived in New York City in November 1890. Like so many immigrant children, Rosa found employment as cheap labor producing, but not enjoying, the wealth that earned America before World War I the epitaph, “the Gilded Age.” Rosa spent her first 12 years of employment rolling cigars. She earned 77 cents for her first week’s work, roughly $22 today. Later, she earned 13 cents for every 100 cigars she rolled, enabling her to occasionally earn as much as $8 in a week, roughly $240 today.Immigrants, especially Jews, were looked down on by most Americans. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge described those from Russia as “inferior people,” and as “dangerous to America as the Goths and Vandals who trampled over Rome.” The author Henry James, after visiting the Lower East Side of NYC, described the Jews he saw there as “swarming . . . small, strange animals—snakes or worms.” The future president, Woodrow Wilson, described the immigrants coming to America at the turn of the century as “multitudes of men of the lowest class [possessing] neither skill nor energy nor any initiative of quick intelligence.” It was as if, Wilson said, that “the countries of the south of Europe were disburdening themselves of the more sordid and hapless elements of their population.”Rosa’s life took a dramatic turn in 1903. She was writing articles for the Yiddishes Tageblatt, the nation’s orthodox Jewish newspaper. She wrote articles calling for an end to “Jew-baiting and Negro-lynching” and calling attention the grinding poverty in which the working classes lived. One evening in July, she met young James Graham Phelps Stokes, a member of one of America’s wealthiest families. Despite his wealth, “Graham,” as he was known, was committed to championing the cause of justice for the working classes, and after meeting and marrying Rosa in July 1905, advancing the cause of socialism.Socialism prior to World War I was not smeared by an association with Bolshevism and communism that resulted from the Russian Revolution in 1917. It attracted many evangelical Christians and reform minded members of the wealthy classes, who the press sometimes referred to as “millionaire socialists.” Graham and Rosa joined the Socialist Party of America. Graham ran unsuccessfully as a Socialist candidate for the New York State Assembly in 1908.Rosa’s marriage to Graham Stokes was a real-life Cinderella story. Their residence of Caritas Island off Connecticut’s Long Island Sound coastline became a sort of aviary frequented by the who’s who of intellectuals who identified themselves as socialists, trade-unionists, anarchists, suffragists, poets, etc. Among those in the circle around Graham and Rosa were, at various times, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, William F. Cochran, Clarence Darrow, Upton Sinclair, John Reed, W.E.B. Du Bois, Jack London, “Mother” Jones, Lincoln Steffens, and many more. Rockwell Kent referred to Caritas as “the very citadel of the Socialist movement.”Two events in 1917 doomed the socialist movement in America and eventually were responsible for destroying Cinderella’s marriage to her prince charming. The first was the Russian Revolution that ended with a Bolshevik victory and the establishment Marist-Leninist totalitarianism. The second was Woodrow Wilson’s decision to lead the United States into the Great War in Europe to secure a victory for England and France, thus protecting the immense financial investments of America’s bankers and industrialists.Once the United States entered the war in Europe, Graham became an ardent supporter of the war effort, while Rosa became a fervent defender of the Russian Revolution. Rosa never wavered in her support of the new Soviet Union, whereas some of her socialist friends who actually visited the USSR—e.g., Emma Goldman—returned totally disillusioned. Rosa and Graham separated and eventually divorced. Rosa went to Frankfurt, Germany in February 1933 to undergo a new radiation treatment for cancer developed by a prominent doctor who was an outspoken anti-Semite, who later became an SS officer who gave “a notorious illustrated lecture portraying cancer cells as Jews and victorious beams of radiation as Nazi storm troopers.”Adam Hochschild is a historian in the best tradition of Barbara Tuchman, Paul Johnson, Bruce Catton, and others who write scholarly researched history in a style than can be enjoyable to read as well as informative. I have read 2 of his earlier books, King Leopold’s Ghost (1998) and To End All Wars (2011) and adopted them as reading for history courses I taught as a history professor. When I first heard of Rebel Cinderella, I knew I was in for a great reading experience. I was not disappointed. Rebel Cinderella appears at just the right time. The 2020 presidential election has opened up interest in the history of socialism in America’s history, as well as comparisons of the era known as the Gilded Age and our own time, considered by many to be a second Gilded Age.As both a retired history professor and one who enjoys a good book, I wholeheartedly recommend Adam Hochschild’s Rebel Cinderella : Rose Pastor Stokes: Sweatshop Immigrant, Aristocrat’s Wife, Socialist Crusader (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020).
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  • (a)lyss(a)
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. This book was around 3.5 stars for me.It's an informative and educational read about Rose Pastor Stokes. While I was familiar with the names of some of her peers, like Upton Sinclair and Margaret Sanger, I was surprised I hadn't heard of Rose before. This book recounts what an incredible organizer she was and what a harrowing life she had. She was revolutionary. It was the writing style that I didn't I received a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. This book was around 3.5 stars for me.It's an informative and educational read about Rose Pastor Stokes. While I was familiar with the names of some of her peers, like Upton Sinclair and Margaret Sanger, I was surprised I hadn't heard of Rose before. This book recounts what an incredible organizer she was and what a harrowing life she had. She was revolutionary. It was the writing style that I didn't love as much about this book. With most things written in the present tense and so many details, I found myself wondering how the author could know what someone said exactly, or their inner thoughts about a given situation. It took me out of the book at times, but the story its self was compelling.It's a bit dense at times but definitely an interesting read!
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  • Miriam
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting biography of Rose Pastor Stokes, a Jewish - Russian immigrant who landed first in London, then in Cleveland as sweatshop cigar roller, and finally, in 1903, in NYC. I knew little about her when I started the book, and gained much insight into her passions and the period.Pastor, after getting involved in the Settlement House movement and Socialist Party, married James Graham Phelps Stokes, heir to one of the blue-blooded American family fortunes. Through this biography you'll learn An interesting biography of Rose Pastor Stokes, a Jewish - Russian immigrant who landed first in London, then in Cleveland as sweatshop cigar roller, and finally, in 1903, in NYC. I knew little about her when I started the book, and gained much insight into her passions and the period.Pastor, after getting involved in the Settlement House movement and Socialist Party, married James Graham Phelps Stokes, heir to one of the blue-blooded American family fortunes. Through this biography you'll learn gain insight into the early twentieth century, the call for social reform, unions, better working and living conditions, and so much more. The performance is steady and engaging, drawing listeners into Rose Pastor-Stokes's life and passions. For a review of the performance, see AudioFile Magazine http://www.audiofilemagazine.com
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  • Sandie
    January 1, 1970
    Rose Pastor went from being an impoverished Jewish immigrant and child factory worker to socialist comrade and wife of Graham Stokes, a millionaire WASP ivy leaguer whose family arrived on the Mayflower. Taking us through the turmoil of the first half on the 20th Century, Hochschild is as interested in the lives of workers as he is of celebrity romance. This story has resonance today as the power of the wealthy and our wealth divide grow, as we become more infatuated with celebrity, and as Rose Pastor went from being an impoverished Jewish immigrant and child factory worker to socialist comrade and wife of Graham Stokes, a millionaire WASP ivy leaguer whose family arrived on the Mayflower. Taking us through the turmoil of the first half on the 20th Century, Hochschild is as interested in the lives of workers as he is of celebrity romance. This story has resonance today as the power of the wealthy and our wealth divide grow, as we become more infatuated with celebrity, and as elements of our governments take action against unions and celebrate censorship and locking political rivals and aliens up.
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  • Miguel
    January 1, 1970
    Fairly solid biography of an activist in the early part of the 20th century and her notable marriage and its subsequent dissolution to a scion of a NYC society family and her rubbing elbows with the well-known progressives of her time. The writing is fine and the research seems deep, its just that the story never pulled me in and captivated. It was difficult to wonder if this persons life would have been a topic for a full lengthy assessment if she had instead struggled as a poor but active Fairly solid biography of an activist in the early part of the 20th century and her notable marriage and its subsequent dissolution to a scion of a NYC society family and her rubbing elbows with the well-known progressives of her time. The writing is fine and the research seems deep, it’s just that the story never pulled me in and captivated. It was difficult to wonder if this person’s life would have been a topic for a full lengthy assessment if she had instead struggled as a poor but active member of the progressive moment without the notoriety of marrying rich.
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  • Sarah Schulman
    January 1, 1970
    A fan of Adam Hochschild, I especially loved his book on Spain and of course King Leopold's Ghost. This look at The Cinderella of the Slums, rose Pastor Stokes was log overdue in Lower Eastside history. I wanted more, but the main points were there. How close the Socialist Party came with Debs getting 900,000 votes for president and then how the movement was smashed by government crackdown around World War 1. Resonated deeply with today.
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  • J.J.
    January 1, 1970
    I didnt really know anything about her before reading this book. I know a lot more about the socialist party in American at the trim of the twentieth century, and in the larger world with her connections to the Russian revolution in 1917. The rags to riches story which American newspapers followed ended in something very different. Recommend for history and womens history readers. I didn’t really know anything about her before reading this book. I know a lot more about the socialist party in American at the trim of the twentieth century, and in the larger world with her connections to the Russian revolution in 1917. The rags to riches story which American newspapers followed ended in something very different. Recommend for history and women’s history readers.
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  • William Sowka
    January 1, 1970
    it is always inspiring to read the stories of socialists who fought the good fight, and certainly the story of Rose Pastor Stokes exemplified this. However, the book did not captivate me as much as King Leopold's Ghost or To End All Wars. Nonetheless, easy enough to finish reading, appreciative of learning something about someone I had little knowledge of before.
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  • John Machata
    January 1, 1970
    Another solid volume from this idiosyncratic author. Using the device of focusing on the micro of Rose Pastor Stokes life Hochschild explores late nineteenth and early twentieth century plight of immigrants working for next to nothing to survive in America, the world of America's fabulously wealthy and the fascinating story of radicals.
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  • Estare K. Weiser
    January 1, 1970
    a fabulous tour through late 19th Century social history with the focus on a most unlikely couple.Learned so much and loved reading this book. Hochschild's writing is luminous. He reminds me of Robert Caro in his style of writing history.
  • Sally Anne
    January 1, 1970
    Very interesting and engagingly written.
  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating historical figure from the labor movement of the early 20th century. Rose Pastor Stokes was a Russian Jewish immigrant who married a millioniare and was active in reform movements.
  • Kodiaksm
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book strictly based on a published book review I was very pleased to learn about Rose Pastor Stokes and the history of her lifetime. I read this book strictly based on a published book review— I was very pleased to learn about Rose Pastor Stokes and the history of her lifetime.
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  • Jay Resnick
    January 1, 1970
    The author weaves a fascinating narrative of social history through the marriage of Russian Jewish immigrant, Rose Pastor, to The Uber wealthy WASP, Graham Stokes. The audible reading is excellent.
  • Ann
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating woman, whose life reads like something out of an unbelievable novel.
  • Sophiescott
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks Adam Hochschild, well done
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