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Other titles in the Women in the West series:
The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman (Women in the West)by Margot Mifflin
"Mifflin, whose admirable and enjoyable book offers analysis of both the reality and the mythology of Oatman's life, shows that there is much beyond The Blue Tattoo. Surely this volume will lead to many more studies on Oatman and related issues surrounding the allure of the exotic and the dangers and wonders of various cultural frontiers." Spencer Drew, Rain Taxi (read the entire Rain Taxi review)
Synopses & Reviews
In 1851 Olive Oatman was a thirteen-year old pioneer traveling west toward Zion, with her Mormon family. Within a decade, she was a white Indian with a chin tattoo, caught between cultures. The Blue Tattoo tells the harrowing story of this forgotten heroine of frontier America. Orphaned when her family was brutally killed by Yavapai Indians, Oatman lived as a slave to her captors for a year before being traded to the Mohave, who tattooed her face and raised her as their own. She was fully assimilated and perfectly happy when, at nineteen, she was ransomed back to white society. She became an instant celebrity, but the price of fame was high and the pain of her ruptured childhood lasted a lifetime.
Based on historical records, including letters and diaries of Oatmans friends and relatives, The Blue Tattoo is the first book to examine her life from her childhood in Illinois—including the massacre, her captivity, and her return to white society—to her later years as a wealthy bankers wife in Texas.
Oatmans story has since become legend, inspiring artworks, fiction, film, radio plays, and even an episode of Death Valley Days starring Ronald Reagan. Its themes, from the perils of religious utopianism to the permeable border between civilization and savagery, are deeply rooted in the American psyche. Oatmans blue tattoo was a cultural symbol that evoked both the imprint of her Mohave past and the lingering scars of westward expansion. It also served as a reminder of her deepest secret, fully explored here for the first time: she never wanted to go home.
The librarian walks the streets of her beloved Paris. An old lady with a limp and an accent, she is invisible to most. Certainly no one recognizes her as the warrior and revolutionary she was, when again and again she slipped into the Jewish ghetto of German-occupied Vilnius to carry food, clothes, medicine, money, and counterfeit documents to its prisoners. Often she left with letters to deliver, manuscripts to hide, and even sedated children swathed in sacks. In 1944 she was captured by the Gestapo, tortured for twelve days, and deported to Dachau.
Through Epistolophilia, Julija and#352;ukys follows the letters and journalsand#8212;the and#8220;life-writingand#8221;and#8212;of this woman, Ona and#352;imaitand#279; (1894and#8211;1970). A treasurer of words, and#352;imaitand#279; carefully collected, preserved, and archived the written record of her life, including thousands of letters, scores of diaries, articles, and press clippings. Journeying through these words, and#352;ukys negotiates with the ghost of and#352;imaitand#279;, beckoning back to life this quiet and worldly heroineand#8212;a giant of Holocaust history (one of Yad Vashemand#8217;s honored and#8220;Righteous Among the Nationsand#8221;) and yet so little known. The result is at once a mediated self-portrait and a measured perspective on a remarkable life. It reveals the meaning of life-writing, how women write their lives publicly and privately, and how their words attach themand#8212;and usand#8212;to life.
About the Author
Margot Mifflin is an author and journalist who writes about women, art, and contemporary culture. The author of Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo, she has written for many publications, including the New York Times, the New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, the Believer, and Salon.com. Mifflin is an assistant professor in the English Department of Lehman College of the City University of New York (CUNY) and directs the Arts and Culture program at CUNYs Graduate School of Journalism, where she also teaches.
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Biography » Historical