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June 2017 Vol. 54 No. 10


The following review appeared in the June 2017 issue of CHOICE. The review is for your internal use only. Please review our Permission and Reprints Guidelines or email

Social & Behavioral Sciences
History, Geography & Area Studies

Rowbotham, Sheila. Rebel crossings: new women, free lovers, and radicals in Britain and America. Verso, 2016. 502p bibl index ISBN 9781784785888, $34.95; ISBN 9781784785918 ebook, $14.99.

In this product of extensive archival research, longtime feminist historian Rowbotham (Manchester Univ.) excavates the interconnected biographies of six unknown radicals from the late 19th century to the early 20th century whose lives straddle both sides of the Atlantic. Influenced by socialism, anarchism, trade unionism, and contemporary theories of free love, Helen Tufts, Helena Born, Miriam Daniell, Gertrude Dix, Robert Nicol, and William Bailie shared either direct or indirect personal connections in Great Britain and then the US. They found utopia neither in the old country nor the new, but their radical odysseys continued for decades. Upper-division history students may find this book useful as an example of meticulous research in resurrecting forgotten lives. However, beyond a declaration of her personal identification with her subjects in the book’s introduction, Rowbotham does not make a strong case for this lengthy volume’s importance, which will likely cause frustration among undergraduate readers. Indeed, the very eclecticism of the individuals studied makes it impossible for the author to develop any major historical theme among the many the book touches on—e.g., socialism, feminism, immigration, fin de siècle culture, etc.—subjects treated elsewhere by immense bodies of literature.

--T. Mackaman, King's College

Summing Up: Optional. Upper-division undergraduates and above.