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American history
Western Americana
The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the West
 
 
Author
Christopher Corbett.
Publisher Atlantic Monthly  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.25 x 0.9 inches
ISBN 9780802119094
Pages/Publication Date 218/2010
Daedalus Item Code 32467
This item is not available.
Description
In his second book of the Old West, after Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express, journalist Christopher Corbett gives us the immigrant experience of Chinese "sojourners" who came to California seeking gold in the mid-19th century, through the remarkable story of Polly Bemis. Sold by her family as a concubine in 1872 and brought to America by her master, Polly followed him to Idaho, where he lost her in a poker game to saloonkeeper Charlie Bemis. The two married and settled on a remote ranch on the banks of the Salmon River, where the cheerful, industrious Polly became a local legend among the river's few travelers. As the gold rush receded, it took with it the Chinese miners—or their bones, which were disinterred and shipped back to their homeland in accordance with Chinese custom—but it left behind Polly, who would make headlines when she emerged from the Idaho hills nearly half a century later. Peppered with characters like Mark Twain and legendary newswoman Cissy Patterson, The Poker Bride vividly reconstructs a period when the first Chinese flooded into the country, and left only traces of their presence scattered across the American West.

"Christopher Corbett has brought home a tale delicate and sad and not a little bit heroic, and in doing so he has rescued from oblivion an extraordinary chapter of the immigrant experience in America. With The Poker Bride and his earlier reconsideration of the Pony Express ... Corbett has established himself as a fresh and thoughtful voice in the historical realm of the American West."—David Simon

 
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