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Sister of the Road: The Autobiography of Box Car Berthaby Bertha Thompson as told to Ben L. Reitman
Synopses & Reviews
Another raging slab of real American history you're not likely to find in the textbooks. This is second title in the new (and best-selling!) Nabat series that debuted with Jack Black's You Can't Win. It's a window into a wildly under-appreciated dropout culture that gets left out of the stultifying fairytales that pass for history books—a much more rowdy and messily interesting tradition than the guardians of propriety, steeped in those other great American traditions of puritanism and hypocrisy, let on. Hobo jungles, bughouses, whorehouses, Chicago's Main Stem, IWW meeting halls, skid rows and open freight cars—these were the haunts of the free thinking and free loving Bertha Thompson. This vivid autobiography recounts one hell of a rugged woman's hard-living depression-era saga of misadventures with pimps, hopheads, murderers, yeggs, wobblies and anarchists.
"...her narrative is cauliflower-eared by the brutal truth."—Time
"Thompson's capacity for taking pleasure in her experiences is as striking as the enormous range of her sympathy."—Luc Santé, New York Review Of Books
Dr. Ben Reitman (1880–1942)—hobo, whorehouse physician, anarchist agitator, and tour manager/lover of Emma Goldman, was a mighty interesting character in his own right.
This edition has a new afterword by Barry Pateman, curator of UC Berkeley's Emma Goldman Papers, which contains information on the background of the book, and of author Dr. Ben Reitman.
Nabat books is a series dedicated to reprinting forgotten memoirs by various misfits, outsiders, and rebels. We believe that the truly interesting and meaningful lives are only to be had by dropouts, dissidents, renegades and revolutionaries, against the grain and between the cracks. The Nabat Series offers a little something to set against the crushed hopes, banal lives, and commodification of everything.
Also in the Nabat Series:
You Can't Win by Jack Black
TP $16.00, 1-902593-02-2 o CUSA
Long before Jack Kerouac went on the road, Boxcar Bertha was riding the rails.
The free-thinking andfree-loving ways of hobo Bertha Thompson, and the rowdy and funky world conjured in this book, were all too much for the guardians of propriety when it was first published in 1937. Swapping tales around the campfire, in hobo jungles, hanging out on free love commune farms and in artistic circles in Greenwich Village, working in a whore house, circulating among tramps, yeggs, pimps, bohemians, wobblies and other radicals; despite the plentiful woes, this is a portrait of an entrancing world, and a fascinating woman. It's a window into a wildly underappreciated dropout culture that gets left out of history books. This edition has a new afterward by Barry Pateman thaty fills in the background of the book and that of Dr. Ben Reitman.
Hobo jungles, bughouses, whorehouses, Chicago's Main Stem, IWW meeting halls, skid rows and open freight cars--these were the haunts of the free thinking and free loving Bertha Thompson. This vivid autobiography recounts one hell of a rugged woman's hard-living depression-era saga of misadventures with pimps, hopheads, murderers, yeggs, wobblies and anarchists.
About the Author
Barry Pateman is the curator of the Emma Goldman Archive at the University of California Berkeley and wrote the introduction to AK Press' Chomsky on Anarchism.
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