Cover image for Rebel Cinderella : from rags to riches to radical, the epic journey of Rose Pastor Stokes
Rebel Cinderella : from rags to riches to radical, the epic journey of Rose Pastor Stokes
Physical Description:
303 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
"From the bestselling 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"--


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 921 STOKES 0 1
Book 921 STOKES 0 1
Book 305.4209 HOC 0 1

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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 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 ina 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.

Author Notes

ADAM HOCHSCHILD is the best-selling author of ten books, including King Leopold's Ghost and To End All Wars, both finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award . His Bury the Chains was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN Center USA Literary Award.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Historian Hochschild (Lessons from a Dark Time and Other Essays) delivers a polished and accessible biography of early-20th-century radical Rose Pastor Stokes. A Russian-Jewish immigrant, Rose went to work in a Cleveland cigar factory in 1890 at age 11. The experience sparked her interest in writing about labor rights and socialist politics, and in 1903 she took a newspaper job in New York City, where she met and married James Graham Phelps Stokes, a millionaire involved in the progressive settlement house movement. The couple's social circle included left-wing activists Eugene Debs, Margaret Sanger, and Upton Sinclair, and Hochschild provides captivating details about the 1909 N.Y.C. garment workers' strike, the International Workers of the World, and the American Birth Control League. Though Graham stood by his wife when she was convicted in 1918 for violating the Espionage Act (she claimed the U.S. government served "profiteers" rather than "the people"), disagreements over the Soviet Union (Rose was a founding member of the Communist Party of America) and American involvement in WWI caused the marriage to unravel. The depth and richness of Hochschild's portrait is somewhat compromised by his commitment to the reductive Cinderella trope, but few histories capture the era's combustible mix of idealism and inequality better. Agent: Georges Borchardt, Georges Borchardt. (Mar.)

Booklist Review

While names like Emma Goldman and Eugene V. Debs might have a familiar ring to history fans, Rose Pastor Stokes is one of the less-remembered figures of early twentieth-century America. Her rags to riches tale captivated her time, as this Russian Jewish immigrant living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan met and married James Graham Phelps Stokes, the son of one of New York's wealthiest families. With the sure hand of an experienced guide, award-winning author Hochschild (Spain in Our Hearts, 2016) takes readers through the socialist circles of New York City in the Progressive Era, from madcap heiress Mabel Dodge's salons to union leader Big Bill Haywood's multiple arrests, while chronicling the rise and fall of Rose Pastor Stokes' celebrity. United in their commitment to socialism, the Stokeses went on speaking tours across America, as Rose attempted to balance her newfound wealth with her intense empathy towards the working class she had so recently departed. Hochschild's captivating and fast-paced biography is a true delight and an excellent addition to women's history shelves.--Alice Burton Copyright 2020 Booklist

Library Journal Review

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.--Kate Stewart, Arizona Historical Soc., Tucson

Table of Contents

Prologue: Tumult at Carnegie Hallp. 1
1 Tsar and Queenp. 9
2 Magic Landp. 15
3 City of the Worldp. 27
4 Missionary to the Slumsp. 41
5 Cinderella of the Sweatshopsp. 54
6 Distant Thunderp. 66
7 Island Paradisep. 80
8 A Tall, Shamblefooted Manp. 90
9 By Ballot or Bulletp. 104
10 A Key to the Gates of Heavenp. 117
11 Not the Rose I Thought She Wasp. 136
12 I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldierp. 151
13 Let the Guilty Be Shot at Oncep. 168
14 All My Life I Have Been Preparing to Meet Thisp. 191
15 Waves Against a Cliffp. 200
16 The Springtime of Revolution?p. 211
17 No Peaceful Tent in No Man's Landp. 226
18 Love Is Always Justifiedp. 241
Acknowledgmentsp. 247
Notesp. 249
Bibliographyp. 273
Photo Creditsp. 281
About the Authorp. 283
Indexp. 285