Other Powers



Barbara Goldsmith's portrait of suffragette Victoria Woodhull and her times was hailed by George Plimpton as a beautifully written biography of a remarkable woman and by Gloria Steinem as more memorable than a dozen histories.

A highly readable combination of history and biography, Other Powers interviews the stories of some of the most colorful social, political, and religious figures of America's Victorian era with the courageous and notorious life of Victoria Woodhull--psychic, suffragette, publisher, presidential candidate, and self-confessed practitioner of free love. It is set amid the battle for women's suffrage, the Spiritualist movement that swept across the nation in the age of Radical Reconstruction following the Civil War, and the bitter fight that pitted black men against white women in the struggle for the right to vote.

Peter Gay found Other Powers Irresistible...this is a biography guaranteed to keep the reader reading. And Gloria Steinem called it A real-life novel of how one charismatic woman...turned women's suffrage, the church, New York City, and much of the country on its ear.

Product Details

Harper Perennial
Publish Date
March 24, 1999
5.31 X 1.48 X 8.1 inches | 0.94 pounds
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About the Author

Barbara Goldsmith (1931--2016), a journalist and philanthropist, was the author of Little Gloria...Happy at Last, Obsessive Genius, Johnson v. Johnson, The Straw Man, and Other Powers.


"Ms. Goldsmith's absorbing, sweeping book is a portrait of an age, with the scandalous Victoria Woodhull' at its center. . . . [With] the richness of its narrative, the complex and morally nuanced portraits of its characters . . . you finish Ms. Goldsmith's extraordinary story nearly out of breath . . . astonished at the tragic heroism of the flawed character who tried to challenge the American establishment."-- Richard Bernstein, "New York Times""What a great cast of mountebanks, lechers, spiritualists, sexual revolutionaries, and scheming politicians populate Barbara Goldsmith's fine portrait of an era that resembles the 1990's in America."-- Jim Hoagland"Immensely readable . . . a masterly job."-- "San Francisco Chronicle"An often brilliant, multi-tentacled exploration of Victorian sexual politics."-- "The New Yorker""Goldsmith's research into Woodhull's milieu is prodigious, and the story she has to tell is never less than fascinating."-- "Boston Globe""[Goldsmith] is a master of quotation, smoothly extracting from one after another lengthy letter or transcript the nub that captures the human heart of the matter being addressed."-- "Los Angeles Times""A meticulously researched, marvelous rendering of an intriguing era and one of the women who helped make it so. . . . History is anything but boring when Victoria Woodhull is the topic."-- "Kirkus Reviews""History at its finest: vivid, inclusive, insightful."-- "Booklist""It's hard not to be swept away in [Goldsmith's] remarkable story."-- "Chicago Tribune