Wondrous Beauty: Betsy Bonaparte, the Belle of Baltimore Who Married Napoleon's Brother

Carol Berkin (Author)

Product Details

Publish Date
November 04, 2014
3.83 X 0.82 X 9.22 inches | 0.61 pounds
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About the Author

Carol Berkin received her A.B. from Barnard College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. She is Presidential Professor of History at Baruch College and a member of the history faculty of the Graduate Center of CUNY. Berkin is the author numerous book, among them Civil War Wives, Revolutionary Mothers, A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution, and First Generations: Women in Colonial America, as well as articles and reviews. Professor Berkin has worked as a consultant on several PBS and History Channel documentaries and serves on the boards of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the National Council for History Education. She lives in New York City.


"Assured and compelling . . . Wondrous Beauty is a fascinating and perceptive account of love and scandal." --William Dietrich, New York Journal of Books

"An extraordinary story. . . . Berkin has researched the primary sources diligently and quotes judiciously throughout." --Sara Wheeler, The New York Times Book Review

"With an easy, empathetic style, Berkin (Revolutionary Mothers) follows Betsy from her frivolous youth in post-colonial Baltimore through her devolution from a sparkling ingénue to a popular and witty European party guest into lonely spinsterhood, eschewing romantic love or compassion as she continued to sue her erstwhile in-laws decades after her brief marriage ended." --Publishers Weekly

"Berkin renders a fascinating portrait of a determined woman who defied convention." --Booklist

"Betsy Bonaparte, the beguiling belle of early Washington, disappears from most histories after she takes the fledgling capitol by storm. Carol Berkin tells us the rest of the surprising and fascinating story of the American girl whose rejection both by her Baltimore merchant father and by the European royalty she married into caused Betsy Bonaparte to become one of the few 'self made women' of the 19th century."
--Cokie Roberts, author of Founding Mothers and Ladies of Liberty

"Carol Berkin's Wondrous Beauty reads like a fascinating novel, with a heroine whose intriguing life and trans-Atlantic travels practically defy belief. Betsy Bonaparte emerges as a complex, charming, and brilliant woman, courageous enough to defy her brother-in-law--the French emperor--astute enough to increase the value of her Maryland estate to more than one million dollars, and determined enough to sue the state in the Supreme Court. Berkin provides her trademark combination of meticulous research, original ideas, and elegant prose.″ --Douglas R. Egerton, author of The Wars of Reconstruction

"A meticulously researched, accessible and fascinating account of a young, headstrong but naive beauty who led an extraordinary life first as a young bride, then an abandoned wife, a mother and finally a fiercely independent, entrepreneurial nineteenth century woman. Berkin brilliantly combines storytelling and scholarship, anecdotes and insights in this vividly written biography." --Barbara Winslow, author of Shirley Chisholm and Sylvia Pankhurst

"A wonderful story of a woman who managed to achieve independence and leave her mark on a world not quite ready for her." --Kirkus