Friday, 7 October 2016

Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches - Marcia A Zug

Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches
Marcia A Zug

There have always been mail-order brides in America but we haven't always thought about them in the same ways. In Buying a Bride, Marcia A. Zug starts with the so-called Tobacco Wives of the Jamestown colony and moves all the way forward to today s modern same-sex mail-order grooms to explore the advantages and disadvantages of mail-order marriage. It's a history of deception, physical abuse, and failed unions. It s also the story of how mail-order marriage can offer women surprising and empowering opportunities.

Drawing on a forgotten trove of colorful mail-order marriage court cases, Zug explores the many troubling legal issues that arise in mail-order marriage: domestic abuse and murder, breach of contract, fraud (especially relating to immigration), and human trafficking and prostitution. She tells the story of how mail-order marriage lost the benign reputation it enjoyed in the Civil War era to become more and more reviled over time, and she argues compellingly that it does not entirely deserve its current reputation.

While it is a common misperception that women turn to mail-order marriage as a desperate last resort, most mail-order brides are enticed rather than coerced. Since the first mail-order brides arrived on American shores in 1619, mail-order marriage has enabled women to improve both their marital prospects and their legal, political, and social freedoms. Buying A Bride uncovers this history and shows us how mail-order marriage empowers women and should be protected and even encouraged.

Please Pass The Books Review:

What a fantastic, fantastic chronicle! Detailing the various experiences and accounts of mail order brides, Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches digs deep and delivers a no-holds-barred narrative on a subject that has been left (until now) to modern documentaries and fan-fiction that barely scratches the surface. Going into this, I suppose I expected something a little more like "Birthday Girl", but was instead engrossed in a fascinating history dating back to the founding of the US. Despite sometimes reading like a textbook, Buying a Bride is a captivating study. Zug forces a conversation about the good, the bad, and the ugly, but does so with a weapon that few will be able to argue with: The truth.


I'd like to thank Net Galley and the publisher, NYU Press, for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which this certainly is.

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