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1 Burnside Ethnic Studies- Chinese American

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The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West

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The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

When gold rush fever gripped the globe in 1849, thousands of Chinese immigrants came through San Francisco on their way to seek their fortunes. They were called sojourners, for they never intended to stay. In The Poker Bride, Christopher Corbett uses a little-known legend from Idaho lore as a lens into this Chinese experience. Before 1849, the Chinese in the United States were little more than curiosities. But as word spread of the discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in California, they soon became a regular sight in the American West. In San Francisco, a labyrinthine Chinatown soon sprang up, a clamorous city within a city full of exotic foods and strange smells, where Chinese women were smuggled into the country, and where the laws were made by hatchet men. At this time, Polly, a young Chinese concubine, was brought by her owner by steamboat and pack train to a remote mining camp in the highlands of Idaho. There he lost her in a poker game, having wagered his last ounce of gold dust. Polly found her way with her new owner to an isolated ranch on the banks of the Salmon River in central Idaho. As the gold rush receded, it took with it the Chinese miners--or their bones, which were disinterred and shipped back to their homeland in accordance with Chinese custom. But it left behind Polly, who would make headlines when she emerged from the Idaho hills nearly half a century later to visit a modern city and tell her story. Peppered with characters such as Mark Twain and the legendary newswoman Cissy Patterson, The Poker Bride vividly reconstructs a lost period of history when the first Chinese sojourners flooded into the country, and left only glimmering traces of their presence scattered across the American West.

Review:

"This unruly book mixes a wonderful mystery- wrapped story with the larger picture of Chinese immigration into the American West. The central story concerns a young Chinese woman sold by her family in 1872 into indentured prostitution. She turns up as a concubine in Idaho, is said then to have been won by another man in a poker game, and became Polly Bemis, the winner's legal, beloved wife in the remote wilderness of Idaho. Polly emerged into public view only in 1923, a tiny old woman on horseback, her identity and story known only to a few old-timers. Corbett wisely sets Bemis's life into the context of Chinese immigration, gold- country anti-Chinese prejudice, and life in the mining communities and remote fastnesses of Idaho a hundred years ago. The trouble is that Corbett also gives us over and over again every tale about Bemis, many of them conflicting, many more incomplete, and many no doubt apocryphal, clogging the work and making it longer than necessary. We need more of former AP editor and novelist Corbett's (Vacationland) own reflections, less of every one else's surmises and tales." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

When gold rush fever grips the globe in 1849, thousands of Chinese immigrants come through San Francisco on their way to seek their fortunes. In "The Poker Bride," Corbett uses a little-known legend from Idaho lore as a lens into this Chinese experience.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780802119094
Author:
Corbett, Christopher
Publisher:
Atlantic Monthly Press
Subject:
United States - 19th Century
Subject:
Ethnic Studies - Asian American Studies
Subject:
United States - 19th Century/Old West
Subject:
US History-19th Century
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20100231
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 17 oz

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » Western States
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Asian American
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Chinese American
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century

The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West Used Hardcover
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$8.50 In Stock
Product details 240 pages Atlantic Monthly Press - English 9780802119094 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This unruly book mixes a wonderful mystery- wrapped story with the larger picture of Chinese immigration into the American West. The central story concerns a young Chinese woman sold by her family in 1872 into indentured prostitution. She turns up as a concubine in Idaho, is said then to have been won by another man in a poker game, and became Polly Bemis, the winner's legal, beloved wife in the remote wilderness of Idaho. Polly emerged into public view only in 1923, a tiny old woman on horseback, her identity and story known only to a few old-timers. Corbett wisely sets Bemis's life into the context of Chinese immigration, gold- country anti-Chinese prejudice, and life in the mining communities and remote fastnesses of Idaho a hundred years ago. The trouble is that Corbett also gives us over and over again every tale about Bemis, many of them conflicting, many more incomplete, and many no doubt apocryphal, clogging the work and making it longer than necessary. We need more of former AP editor and novelist Corbett's (Vacationland) own reflections, less of every one else's surmises and tales." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , When gold rush fever grips the globe in 1849, thousands of Chinese immigrants come through San Francisco on their way to seek their fortunes. In "The Poker Bride," Corbett uses a little-known legend from Idaho lore as a lens into this Chinese experience.
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