Olivia Waite is a romance author, practicing feminist, and wide-ranging dilettante.
I put this book down after the very first couple of chapters for having one of the least consistent narrative through-lines I've ever seen in a nonfiction book. Why is there a large-font header break every three paragraphs? (Not an exaggeration, I swear. It's totally inexplicable.) Why is it never clear what year we're in, or how the chronology is progressing or reversing, as it often appears to do? Why does every name presented feel like a ghost, rather than a detailed figure with a biography and a personality?
The book presents itself as a counterpoint to decades of mob mythologizing and inaccurate history: since it depends on supposedly understudied primary sources, I was expecting to see some of that material in the text. Maybe the author just wrote the shittiest intro ever, and the rest of the book is stellar? I can't even bring myself to care enough to check the final chapters. I was excited about this book and the subject -- I love contrarian histories, I really do -- but all I'm left with is a deep disappointment. DNF.