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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Bleeding Borders: Race, Gender, and Violence in Pre-Civil War Kansas - Kristen Tegtmeier Oertel The words of "bleeding" and "borders" contained in the title refers to the violence and terrorism resulting from the clash of interests between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces that took place along Kansas-Missouri border prior to the American Civil War. Extremist from both sides were drawn to this part of the country to champion their cause in determining whether Kansas Territory would become a slave or free state. These conflicts in many ways served as a precursor to the Civil War that followed. The major power brokers (mostly white males) in this phase of history have been well documented by other historians. This book focuses on the activities of the less visible participants (women, Indians and slaves) of this historical era. The book goes on to explore how contrasting cultural values and fear of miscegenation motivated the different political interests.

The writing is very readable, but it has the flavor on an academic book with frequent references to material covered by other historians. Because of the nature of the subject, it necessarily ends up describing scattered events and personalities which limits the emotional identification by the reader with stories in the book. Consequently, I suppose it will fail to capture the attention of the popular reading audience. Nevertheless, it tells the stories of many overlooked ordinary people who worked hard at living and surviving. These are stories that deserve to be told and remembered. Their hard work laid the foundation of our current civilization.