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Lydia Maria Child:

A Radical American Life

The lively, relevant story of one of America’s most courageous abolitionists

“This is a biography on a mission. As Moland shows us, to discover Child is to discover ourselves, revealing the best and worst of who we are. . . . This is a brilliantly written book: stylish, witty, barbed yet sympathetic.”

— Laura Dassow Walls,
author of Henry David Thoreau: A Life

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“Moland’s exuberant new biography gives us a Lydia Maria Child for the twenty-first century: a woman of fierce intelligence and astonishing ingenuity who never gave up the struggle to right the wrongs of enslavement and its legacy of race prejudice. Moland writes with a philosopher’s instinct to question both herself and the evidence she uncovers, yielding an intimate portrait that is also a history of America’s centuries-long reckoning with its founding principles.”

—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Margaret Fuller: A New American Life 

“After the 2016 presidential election… Moland discovered Child, a woman, she later learned, ‘unwilling to accept the conventional wisdom of her time and unable to abide by its norms’…Moland began to wonder, ‘What could the example of her life teach me?'”

–Brenda Wineapple, New York Review of Books

“There are dozens of wonderful stories in this stew of a book, which covers Child’s life and loves as well as the significant events of the era—including abolition, women’s rights, Native American rights, John Brown’s failed uprising, the Civil War . . . Lydia Maria Child may or may not be “truly living” in another world now, but in the pages of this book she is certainly alive, vibrant and inspiring.”

–Susan Cheever, The Nation

“Moland’s book is the latest, the fullest, and by a noticeable margin the best biography of Lydia Maria Child . . . Readers will find this an affecting, emotional story, particularly as its major chapters draw to a close.”

–Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review

“Lydia Maria Child was one of the few great intellectual freedom fighters in nineteenth-century America. Moland’s magisterial book takes us in and through Child’s rich world and life in an exemplary manner. Don’t miss this powerful text on a giant still so relevant to our bleak times.”

—Cornel West, author of Race Matters

“Moland is . . . interested in [Child’s] many-splendored radicalism. . . [In Lydia Maria Child], Moland has produced a call to arms, an almanac for activists, as well as an ample, honest and immensely readable book.”

–James Marcus, Wall Street Journal

“Moland is most charming at those moments when the staid scholarly facade of the historian splinters — when the fourth wall of biography crumbles — and the reader is invited to witness the author reacting to her discoveries in real time . . . [A] thoughtful, soulful work.”

–J. C. Hallman, Los Angeles Review of Books

“[Lydia Maria Child was] a remarkable woman who needs to be remembered as one of the nineteenth century’s most influential Abolitionists . . . A work of exemplary scholarship, Moland’s definitive biography of Child is extremely well written and invites both an academic and general readership.”