"The handful of published biographies of Jeannette Rankin have been so disappointing; either frank hagiography or two-dimensional treatments . . . James J. Lopach and Jean A. Luckowski have set out to correct this with their Jeannette Rankin. The two professors at the University of Montana have produced the first fully rounded portrait of this conflicted American pioneer: her firebrand devotion to women's suffrage and peace are here; but also her stubborn ambition, her neediness, and her casual racism in the service of ending discrimination against her sex. . . . Lopach and Luckowski have taken full advantage of the trove of Rankinalia collected in Montana . . . Jeannette Rankin is thoroughly researched."
—Women's Review of Books, 23:5, Sept/Oct 2006
"[A] balanced, warts-and-all biography of the woman who not only paved the way to Congress for others but was a kingpin (is there such a thing as a queenpin?) of Montana's suffrage movement. Authors Lopach and Luckowski ably flesh out the profile of a flinty, resourceful politician, for whom the ends often justified the means."
"Lopach and Luckowski reveal, among other insights, the paradoxes of Rankin's character: a champion for labor who exploited her own workers, a charmer who was difficult to work with, a person who had many acquaintances but few intimate friends."
—Western Historical Quarterly
"This account . . . offers a much-needed corrective to hagiographic treatments of Rankin. Certainly it affirms Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's adage that 'Well-behaved women seldom make history.'"
—Liette Gidlow, American Historical Review
"This definitive biography of the first woman elected to Congress explores her complexities and accomplishments."
—Notre Dame Magazine
"Jeannette Rankin is the most thoroughly researched book about Jeannette Rankin ever published."
—Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Winter 2006
"The most comprehensive examination yet of Rankin's complex personality, circumstances, and personal and political choices. . . . Readers will appreciate the complex personality that emerges from these pages."
—Oregon Historical Quarterly
"If I had my life to live over, I would do it all again, but this time I would be nastier."
—Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973)
Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, stands tall among American icons. The representative from Montana won her seat at a time when women didn't have the right to vote in most states. Her firm stances inspired both admiration and fury across party lines, and she gained nearly canonical status among feminists and pacifists. In Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman, University of Montana professors James Lopach and Jean Luckowski demythologize Rankin, showing her to be a talented, driven, and deeply divided woman.
Until now, no biography has explored Rankin's inconsistencies. The authors extensively consulted the correspondence of her family members and contemporaries, uncovering ties between her politics and her familial and personal relationships. They reveal how she succeeded through her wealthy brother's influence as well as her own extraordinary efforts; how she drew inspiration not from her rural roots but from the radical hotbed of Greenwich Village; and how she championed an independent, woman-centered life while deferring to family.
Revealing her complexities along with her accomplishments, Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman will be the definitive biography of this pathbreaking politician for years to come.