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Obres de John Wood Sweet


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I listened to the author's interview on Just the Right Book podcast and was intrigued, so I decided to listen to this book. I really need to read more non-fiction, but there's not enough time in the world for all of the books when you're a librarian who is required to have all of the books read that are ordered. Alas.

In 1793, Lanah Sawyer walked with a lawyer who seemed kind. He took her to a disorderly house (whore house) and raped her. For seventeen years old, Lanah displayed courage alongside despair. When she eventually convinces herself to go home after the violent rape, she finds women to accompany her in fear of her step-father's wrath and violence. The evidence of the rape overwhelms the women and they enlist a man to help with her stepfather. He believes her but chooses to take his violence out on the man who abused his step-daughter. Now, it's not really in defense of her. It's more that "his" property has been abused and it affects "his" honor. They determine to take the rake to court and charge him with rape. The problem with charging someone with rape is that one rarely ever wins. Juries, made of landed man, don't want to give the death penalty to another man. In general, one would have a better chance of succeeding with a seduction charge where a man would be required to pay another man for hurting another man's property.

The novel follows the two trials that ensue from this night, using as much primary source material as the author could find. Because women hold less esteem in society, there's little about Lanah beyond her testimony. What you learn about are HOW lawyers defended the rake. You learn why they chose the defense strategy they did and how women take the blame. These strategies are still in use today.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book and learning about one of the first rape trials in the United States. For those of you who are fans of Alexander Hamilton, you may find his shine a bit less shiny. A novel about early America and the differences between classes that separate those perceived as trustworthy and those who do not matter will captivate and maybe even make you sad that attitudes haven't changed much.
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acargile | Hi ha 22 ressenyes més | Mar 8, 2024 |
Lanah Sawyer, forced into a brothel and raped by a man claiming to be a lawyer, goes to court. The man Henry Bedlow came from an influential 18th century New York family. The book was chosen for a women's social history book club in which I participate. I could not continue to read it. There was too much graphic sexual violence. It's not the type of thing on which I wanted my mind to dwell. Most of the ones who read the book liked it.
thornton37814 | Hi ha 22 ressenyes més | Sep 15, 2023 |
Interesting and well-researched story about a young woman, Lanah Sawyer, who was lured into a brief relationship with a man claiming to be a lawyer, but who forced her into a brothel where he raped her in the 1700's in New York City. Henry Bellow was a young man from a prosperous family who was known as a "rake" about town.

The story tells of the rape, the trial, the riots after the defendant was found innocent and the ensuing court cases especially that of Sawyer's step-father who sued Bedlow in a civil suit. In all of this, the twists and turns of the trial, the aftermath, the riots, focus is always on the men. Ann Cary, the brothel owner, features in the story as well as famous names such as Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

It is a story of our nation's beginnings with the culture and beliefs regarding women, sex, and crime. Certainly well researched with pages of notes at the end. Reads very well.
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maryreinert | Hi ha 22 ressenyes més | Mar 9, 2023 |
Excellent nonfiction about one of the first rape cases that was prosecuted in colonial America in the 1790s. 17 year old Lanah Sawyer meets a young gentleman, obviously above her station, who convinces her to go on a walk with him one evening. The night ends with him forcibly taking her to a brothel and raping her. She then will have to decide if she should tell, who she should tell, and whether they will believe her. After she chooses to tell her mother and stepfather, her stepfather makes the somewhat unusual decision to press charges against the gentleman. We then hear about the trial, the laws surrounding rape, and how it affects Lanah and her family.

The whole book is fascinating and disturbing and sad. Also frustrating. So many of the issues Lanah faces in trying to "prove" what happened to her are STILL issues for women who are raped today. And witnessing Lanah be pushed to the side as men decide the fate of her case and men are at the center of all the laws and courts is maddening.

It would be easy to lose Lanah Sawyer in this story since once the initial event is over, the action all moves to the world of men, but the author does a pretty good job attempting to keep Lanah in the picture. I'm glad I read this and highly recommend it.
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japaul22 | Hi ha 22 ressenyes més | Nov 30, 2022 |


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