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Sister of The Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha - as told to Dr. Ben Reitman (NABAT) [Paperback]

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Item description for Sister of The Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha - as told to Dr. Ben Reitman (NABAT) by Ben Reitman, Bertha Thompson, Thomas Roma, Shawn Wong, William K. Poston, Jr., Carolyn J. Downey & Jon Buller...

Another raging slab of real American history you're not likely to find in the textbooks. This is second title in the new (and best-selling!) Nabat series that debuted with Jack Black's You Can't Win. It's a window into a wildly under-appreciated dropout culture that gets left out of the stultifying fairytales that pass for history books—a much more rowdy and messily interesting tradition than the guardians of propriety, steeped in those other great American traditions of puritanism and hypocrisy, let on. Hobo jungles, bughouses, whorehouses, Chicago's Main Stem, IWW meeting halls, skid rows and open freight cars—these were the haunts of the free thinking and free loving Bertha Thompson. This vivid autobiography recounts one hell of a rugged woman's hard-living depression-era saga of misadventures with pimps, hopheads, murderers, yeggs, wobblies and anarchists.

"...her narrative is cauliflower-eared by the brutal truth."—Time

"Thompson's capacity for taking pleasure in her experiences is as striking as the enormous range of her sympathy."—Luc Santé, New York Review Of Books

Dr. Ben Reitman (1880–1942)—hobo, whorehouse physician, anarchist agitator, and tour manager/lover of Emma Goldman, was a mighty interesting character in his own right.

This edition has a new afterword by Barry Pateman, curator of UC Berkeley's Emma Goldman Papers, which contains information on the background of the book, and of author Dr. Ben Reitman.

Nabat books is a series dedicated to reprinting forgotten memoirs by various misfits, outsiders, and rebels. We believe that the truly interesting and meaningful lives are only to be had by dropouts, dissidents, renegades and revolutionaries, against the grain and between the cracks. The Nabat Series offers a little something to set against the crushed hopes, banal lives, and commodification of everything.

Also in the Nabat Series:

You Can't Win by Jack Black
TP $16.00, 1-902593-02-2 o CUSA

Promise Angels is dedicated to bringing you great books at great prices. Whether you read for entertainment, to learn, or for literacy - you will find what you want at!

Item Specifications...

Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   0.75 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2002
Publisher   AK Press
ISBN  1902593030  
ISBN13  9781902593036  

Availability  0 units.

More About Ben Reitman, Bertha Thompson, Thomas Roma, Shawn Wong, William K. Poston, Jr., Carolyn J. Downey & Jon Buller

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Women
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies > General
5Books > Subjects > Science > History & Philosophy > History of Science

Reviews - What do customers think about Sister of The Road: The Autobiography of Boxcar Bertha - as told to Dr. Ben Reitman (NABAT)?

Terrible read...  Feb 27, 2008
So let's see...a fake autobiography about a woman hobo concerned with women hobo issues...written by a man. Poorly written at that. Also...for a 'sister of the road' this character is almost never on the road and tells almost no road stories. So lame.
Of course it is fiction  May 22, 2006
While it is true that the book is fiction, it was written by Ben Reitman, and if anyone knows about his life, this could be considered the autobiography that he never wrote.

So while the person Boxcar Bertha may have not existed in real life, what she went through and who she saw are real and based upon events that occured to Ben and many others.

The book when it first came out was fiction, and most then knew it. It somehow was forgotten along the way.

Doesn't matter that it's fiction  Apr 13, 2005
Take it with a grain of salt. It's an interesting look at hoboism, sex, drugs, pimping, anarchy and Depression era Americana. I remember reading this book at the laundromat in Alhambra. It was quite a page turner. It doesn't matter that it's fiction disguised as an autobiography. It's still a fun read.
Duped!  Feb 23, 2005
Caution: This is a fictional novel, not an autobiography.

I can't say how dissapointing it is to have finished the entire book before being told that "Boxcar Bertha" was a fictional character. The publishers of this novel, by including it in their distinguished line of re-released autobiographies, have done their readers a great disservice.

Discovering that this is novel was written by a man destroyed any of the validity its social observations held. What in the novel is based in reality? Are any of its observations valid or is the entire work a portrayal of an invented world?

I focus my reading on non-fiction, and this novel would have been a great work were it an autobiography. As a work of fiction, the character is convincingly written, but now the plot seems hackneyed, contrived and offensive. Instead of an amazing story of an early feminist and radical, we have another story from a man telling us why women enjoy being prostitutes, punching bags and childish lesbians.

Readers interested in this era of American history would be better served by the autobiography of Jack Black, "You Can't Win." As far as I can determine, his book is a work of non-fiction. His observations on the hobo world are amazing - and true.
A ripoff!  Jul 23, 2002
"Everything I had set out in life to do I had accomplished. I had wanted to
know how it felt to be a hobo, a radical, a prostitute, a thief, a reformer,
a social worker and a revolutionist. Now, I knew."

With an ending like the above, you've gotta bet that the prior 200 pages are
a fun read.

This book is more-or-less the contemporary of that classic 1930's anti-drug
movie "Refer Madness". We encounter dope fiends, perverts, dreamers,
anarchists, abortionists and many others.

I do, so much, love reading about degenerate behavior!

Somewhere in the folds is a statement that Capitalism is evil. "Sure
society has a right to defind itself. Society has the right to send me to
jail if they get the goods on me. But I've got to eat and sleep and my
child has to have his. I don't justify myself. I know I'm wrong. I know my
example is bad. But I'm so short on funds, I have to".

So, I'm reading along. 100 pages. 200 pages. Thinking to myself, hmmm
.... this woman sure had a lot of adventures in her life.

Then ... incredible, annoying, foulness! An afterward is appended to the
text by the publisher.

"In this, the 4th time that Boxcar Bertha has been reissued, we feel obliged
for the first time to make it plain that this is in fact a work of fiction.
This takes nothing away from the book as far as we are concerned."

BALONEY! What the...?!?! I could understand if they'd let the title
stand (after all, we know that the "Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman" is a
novel) but why did they have to leave the binding classification as

I feel so violated. I wouldn't have invested the time if I'd know from the
start that it was fiction. This story is only good if it's true ...
there're a dozen places where I'd have thrown the book down because of
unbelievable-ness if I'd known it were fiction.


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