Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review: Wanton West, by Lael Morgan

By HistoryNet Staff 
Originally published by Wild West magazine. Published Online: October 06, 2011 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

Wanton West: Madams, Money, Murder and the Wild Women of Montana's Frontier, by Lael Morgan, Chicago Review Press, 2011, $24.95

Bad girls. Fallen women. Soiled doves. Oh, let's come right out and say it—whores. They are the Old West's dirty little non-secret, an omnipresent backdrop to its settlement, providing comfort to its notorious badmen, as well to members of the "respectable" crowd. Wanton West journalist Lael Morgan pulls the world's oldest profession from the shadows and focuses on its activities in Montana, where prostitution generally boomed, save for a few crackdowns, until World War I, when venereal disease—followed by the state's economic decline—finally drove the once-grand cribs out of business and several to the wrecking ball. Hers is largely an anecdotal history, driven by the colorful characters who chose that life as an alternative to more mundane professions.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Wild West magazine

Prostitutes in late-19th-century Montana included young, pretty, intelligent ladies who paid their own way, perhaps found wealthy husbands or acquired the entrepreneurial experience to parlay their earnings into more respectable businesses. But there were also the old, addicted, out-of-luck floozies who got by on whatever clients would still have them, living lives of desperation.

If it takes colorful characters to keep Western history interesting, readers will find their fair share in Wanton West. Morgan includes here losers such as Martha Jane Canary, whose ups and downs truly earned her the moniker Calamity Jane, to winners like Madeleine Blair, whose 1919 autobiography, Madeleine, shocked the country with its unapologetic treatment of her former profession—and whose real name remains a mystery.

—Jon Guttman


Recommended


Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy