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Wanton West: Madams, Money, Murder, and the Wild Women of Montana's Frontier

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  82 ratings  ·  14 reviews
From the time of the gold rush to the election of the first woman to the U.S. Congress, Wanton West brings to life the women of the West's wildest region: Montana, famous for its lawlessness, boomtowns, and America’s largest red-light districts. Prostitutes and entrepreneurs--like Chicago Joe, Madame Mustache, and Highkicker—flocked to Montana to make their own money, gamb ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Jenny Brown
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Very superficial with an odd lack of emotion that put me off. The author discusses sexual slavery, suicides, pimps, corruption, etc. in a way that makes me wonder what exactly she was trying to do in this book. Occasionaly she gives the impression she thinks prositution was wonderful and it was a shame the authorities cracked down on it. The way in which some women exploited others to become wealthy did not strike me as being the triumph for feminist aspirations the author seems to hint it was, ...more
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed with this book. I was hoping for much more and was left unfulfilled. I did not like the way it was constructed and there was not much flow to the story. Potential was there, but it just did not come together to create something fascinating and engrossing.
Jan 23, 2014 added it
Less of a story about people after the first chapter. It turned into more of a listing of what happened.
Amber Ray
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
For a book on wild women, this gets a bit dry in places. When discussing wild women who aren't prostitutes, it gets dull. Someone else noted a "remote" feeling to the writing and I have to agree...Calamity Jane sounds downright boring at times!
Some of the stories are indeed interesting, and the parts about Chinese prostitutes is appalling. I do wish though more books about "stray women" would discuss what happened to these women when they were no longer young enough to be attractive....this book
Apr 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
A well-researched book about Montana's history- from the mining (gold, copper,silver) to the railroad building to the cattle ranching - and how the "mens" work brought prostitution to the west. Morgan cites pages and pages of references - which complete the history but over-shadows the story.
There is little about the lives of the madams or workers, little about their houses, little about the place of prostitution in those societies. Nothing within the covers supports the idea of wild women of t
Maddie Jensen
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
There were some really interesting stories in this book, and it was awesome learning about both women you hear about and women you don't, but also for a book all about the wild women of the wild west, I found it was lacking. Especially when many of the stories later in the book revolved around men. ...more
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
It's too dry and so many of the stories are more focused around the men than women, which defeats the ENTIRE PURPOSE of this book! I wanted to love this, I really did. But 108 pages I and it is so bland some of it I just can't justify reading anymore.

Three stars because I love the stories and the content, but the writing is
Cynthia Marcano
Sep 10, 2014 rated it liked it
What do a President, English Aristocrat, Former Slaves, Soldiers, Cowboys, Ranchers & Journalists all have in common? In the lates 1800s Montana, they affected the lives of many prostitutes; not necessarily by being their John.

Wanton West blew my mind for a few reasons. First, I love history so I was very glad to read lots of factual information. The author listed actual quotes and sometimes number figures for properties acquired and bank account info.

Second, the author didn't seemed biased, but
Jay Moynahan
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Lael Morgan is the author of the classic book on prostitution Good Time Girls of the Alaska–Yukon Gold Rush (1998). In this new book she has turned her attention to early Montana and prostitution, as well as the suffrage movement in that wild and sometimes untamed part of the American frontier.

This is a well researched and most interesting book. The author presents an objective and candid view of Montana with which few in the twenty-first century are familiar. Ms. Morgan sheds new light on Monta
Oct 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
I bought this book after hearing Lael Morgan speak at the Montana Festival of the Book. Her anecdotes made everyone laugh, and once I got into the book store section of the Festival, these books were all sold out.

I would recommend this book to people, especially women, who are interested in Montana history and are prepared to be pleasantly surprised and at times disgusted with the nature of the "wild west." Morgan created an interesting structure for her book, focusing on the rise of Butte but
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting view of history of the west, particularly Montana. The focus of the research done by the author involved how prostitution shaped the early inhabitants of Montana. Because the early settlement of the region was in response to mining the settlers were single men. Where there are large concentrations of single men there will come women intent on making a living. The living they chose was prostitution as it paid the most. The book was supported by lists of research topics and substatiati ...more
Casey Quick
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved, loved, loved this book. Entertaining at all the right points and wildly informational. I'm not normally big on nonfiction but this book was glorious. ...more
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Who knew a book about prostitution in the Wild West could be quite so dry and clinical?
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