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Giddings (Afro-American studies, Smith Coll.; When and Where I Enter) has written a massive study of this noted black activist's lifelong crusade against lynching. Prodigious research took Giddings to more than 30 archives; 100 pages of notes and bibliography attest to the depth of her scholarship. The result serves as a definitive biography of Wells. Giddings argues that her subject was a leading feminist as well as a crusader for civil rights. She explores Wells's optimism in the face of numerous setbacks, including ostracism from her home city of Memphis. The author concludes that Wells's unflinching focus on opposition to lynching ultimately was adopted by the NAACP as a central tenet, which helped lead to the NAACP's success as a civil rights organization. Much more complete than previous studies of Wells, e.g., by James West Davidson, Ida is well written and painstakingly detailed. Highly recommended for all academic and major public libraries.-A.O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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*Starred Review* An iconic figure in American history, Wells was not always celebrated by her contemporaries for her groundbreaking activism because of her assertive politics and difficult personality. She is best known for her crusade against lynching documenting the injustice often tied to false accusations of black men sexually assaulting white women. Wells understood and chronicled the connection between racism and sexuality as blacks and women asserted themselves in American culture. Giddings offers a look at how Wells' own self-assertion affected her relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and the broader American public as she evolved as a woman and an activist. Wells, born to slaves in Mississippi, was at the forefront of progressivism in advocacy journalism, feminism, and racial justice from her longtime base in Memphis. Exiled from the South in 1892, she launched her antilynching campaign worldwide before marrying and settling in Chicago, where she threw herself into local politics. With meticulous research, including Wells' own diary, Giddings brings to life one of the most fascinating women in American history, giving readers a real feel for the texture and context of Wells' life.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2008 Booklist