Please join Roosevelt House and the Hunter College Jewish Studies Center as we welcome author Adam Hochschild to discuss his new book, Rebel Cinderella: From Rags to Riches to Radical, the Epic Journey of Rose Pastor Stokes, which tells the astonishing story of a poor, young early 20th-century immigrant woman who took America by storm.

Rose Pastor arrived in New York City in 1903, a Jewish refugee from Russia who had worked in cigar factories from the age of eleven. Two years later, she captured headlines across the globe when she married James Graham Phelps Stokes, scion of one of the legendary 400 families of New York high society. Their union of rich and poor, native-born and immigrant, Gentile and Jew, made them America’s most improbable couple. Together they joined the burgeoning Socialist Party and moved among the liveliest group of activists and dreamers this country has ever seen, with friends like Emma Goldman, “Big Bill” Haywood, Eugene V. Debs, John Reed, Margaret Sanger, Jack London, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

Pastor Stokes stirred audiences to tears, becoming one of the most renowned radical orators of her time, and advocating vehemently for the rights of labor, leading strikes of restaurant waiters and garment workers. She campaigned alongside the country’s earliest feminists to publicly defy laws against the distribution of information about birth control, earning her notoriety as “one of the dangerous influences of the country” from President Woodrow Wilson. But in a way no one foresaw, her too-short life would end in the same abject poverty with which it began.

Drawing on an array of revealing material—letters, Rose’s diary, dueling memoirs, a cascade of newspaper stories, plus surveillance reports by undercover operatives of the agency that was the predecessor of the FBI—Rebel Cinderella unearths the rich, overlooked life of a social justice champion who was truly ahead of her time.


Adam Hochschild — Rebel Cinderella: From Rags to Riches to Radical, the Epic Journey of Rose Pastor Stokes | Posted on February 20th, 2020 | Book Discussions, Public Programs