Thursday, January 22, 2009

Book Stall Review: The Lady Was a Gambler

The Lady Was a Gambler: True Stories of Notorious Women of the Old West
by Chris Enss. TwoDot, 2007

Contrary to most media representations, men did not win the West alone. There were women involved as well.

Old West occupations like cowboying and mining were almost exclusively male, but there were exceptions. There were also a few women whose circumstances or inclination led them to become professional gamblers and card sharks.

Author and screenwriter Chris Enss introduces 15 colorful, independent, and exceptional women gamblers of the Old West in this collection of cardsharp profiles.

"Throughout the history of the early gaming days of the Old West, women proved they were just as capable as men at dealing cards and throwing dice," Enss claims.

Even so, professional women gamblers were a rarity and, according to Enss, "the most successful lady gamblers possessed stunning good looks, which helped disarm aggressive opponents and gave them something pretty to look at as they lost their moeny."

The women profiled are Alice Ivers, Eleanora Dumont, Lottie Deno, Kitty LeRoy, Belle Ryan Cora, Gertudis Maria Barcelo, Belle Siddons, Kate O'Leary, Belle Starr, Minnie Smith, Martha Jane Canary, Jenny Rowe and Mary Hamlin.

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