About the Work

Sex Wars: A Novel of Gilded Age New York. Suggested by Dr. Catherine Borshuk, Women's Studies

"From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This rich novel set in post–Civil War New York stars a true-life cast of characters that includes Victoria Woodhull, the spiritualist turned first woman to run for the U.S. presidency; passionate suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton; the aged Cornelius Vanderbilt, who sits atop a $100-million fortune as he tries to make contact with his dead son; and Anthony Comstock, a crusading moralist who dedicates his life to outlawing pornography and "obscene objects made of rubber." As they each vie for different kinds of sex-based power, the consequences of their actions echo from the halls of Congress to Manhattan's back alleys. Piercy (Gone to Soldiers) powerfully dramatizes the early feminists' zeal and the high stakes of the gender wars it set in motion, and offers a wealth of period detail, including tips on using an outdoor latrine when living in a fifth-floor walk-up and the cost to bathe (fully dressed, no soap) in the East River. Most poignant among the invented characters is Freydeh Leibowitz, a young Russian-Jewish widow, who, far from the scandalous headlines and saloon gossip of the times, makes a living for herself and her adopted children, penny by penny, as a manufacturer of reliable condoms."

Related Event: Author Marge Piercy will be coming to campus to give the Annual Kaufman Lecture on Friday, November 2. For more details, contact Dr. Borshuk in the Women's Studies department.

Additional Reviews (Requires IUSB Login Off-Campus):

Greenya, John. "A War Of The Sexes, Post-Civil War." World & I 21.9 (2006): 12. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 13 June 2012.

Seaman, Donna. "Sex Wars." Booklist 102.1 (2005): 7. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 June 2012.

Additional Media:

HarperCollins Discussion Guide

Lyons, Bonnie. "An Interview With Marge Piercy." Contemporary Literature 48.3 (2007): 326-344. Academic Search Premier. Web. 13 June 2012. (Requires IUSB Login Off-Campus)

Last Reviewed: 03/2014