the great arizona orphan abduction book review

It is an ingenious narrative device that enables her to reconstitute the distinct social structures of the area while rendering a taut journalistic account of the unfolding drama… The magnificence of her achievement [is] her masterly assembly of historical detail and acute sensitivity to the intricacies of human relations as mediated by power, prejudice and the passing of time.”—Stephen Lassonde, The New York Times Book Review, “Written in the lush prose and plots of a Joseph Conrad novel, Linda Gordon’s The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction is [an] extraordinary chronicle… More than an isolated case of frontier vigilantism, the affair swirled into the national headlines, fanning the flames of the caustic debate over religion and race… Peeling off the overlapping intrigues, issues, and players of the incident with the precision of a historical detective, Gordon, a leading social historian on issues of gender and family, goes far beyond the question of blatant racism in a racist epoch to examine the cultural and historical makeup that allowed the affair to happen in the first place… Her meticulously researched and reasoned chronicle is a masterwork of historical analysis that deserves to remain on bookshelves far into the future.”—Jeff Biggers, Bloomsbury Review, “If Gordon’s book did nothing more than redeem from obscurity the story of the Arizona orphans, it would be an extraordinary contribution to social history. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions.

The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction. UNITED STATES

Gordon does a masterful job probing class and race, gender and religion, family and border economics to shed light on conflicts unresolved to this day… She has crafted both an exhilarating yarn and a sober morality tale.”—Karen R. Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Gordon’s account takes place in six scenes, with historical interludes between them.

Less focus on what happened during and after, more on how and why events unfolded that way in that specific time and place. As a challenge to preconceived notions of American history, as a reflection of cultural, religious and economic realities and as a how-to guide for retrieving important historical lessons, The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction is fascinating, repelling and completely engrossing.”—Ian Graham, The Newark Star-Ledger, “Linda Gordon’s The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction is a spellbinding narrative history—the kind of rigorous but engaging work that other academics dream of writing. However, she is quick to point out that they may not be representative and that they only illustrate that what makes good parenting is difficult to determine.

This is a scholarly read - incredibly thoroughly researched and documented - and it does not ever attempt to read like anything else. Soon the town's Anglos, furious at this "interracial" transgression, formed a vigilante squad that kidnapped the children and nearly lynched the nuns and the local priest.

Raciscm was obvious but I have to admit I have mixed feelings about the whole incident especially for that day and age. The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction tells this disturbing and dramatic tale to illuminate the creation of racial boundaries along the Mexican border. Especially informative are Gordon’s lengthy discussions of historical definitions of whiteness and how the orphan abduction was instrumental in destroying the fluidity of race relations.”—E.W.

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