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  • ruthmonsell


Updated: Feb 18

My First Reviews:

All 3 gave me 5 stars!!!


Reviewed by Joe Wisinski for Readers' Favorite *****

Frances Perkins: Champion of American Workers by Ruth Cashin

Monsell is the biography of a woman who holds a solid place in

history—the first female presidential cabinet member in the United

States. Perkins served as the Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945.

She was known to stand up for American workers, enacting many

life-saving measures, along with those that improved quality of life,

such as a shorter work week. Beyond her work in implementing

safety and lifestyle improvements, Perkins was instrumental in the

creation of Social Security, as well as other programs, such as the

Civilian Conservation Corps. Monsell’s book is a complete

biography, covering all aspects of Perkins' life. The book ends with

“The Wit and Wisdom of Frances Perkins,” followed by an extensive

bibliography and a list of places that were important in Perkins’ life

that readers may want to visit.

Frances Perkins, Champion, is an absolutely fascinating

book about the life of a little-known American woman. I didn’t know

much about Perkins, only knowing her name, before I began

reading this book. But I was hooked from the first page and the

more I read the more I became enthralled with this biography of an

exceptional woman. Monsell is a fine writer and wrote with

enthusiasm about Perkins. Because of reading this book, I came to

a better appreciation of Perkins, as well as Monsell for writing it.

Everyone should read this exceptional, well-researched book.

Readers will come away inspired by Perkins’ life and grateful for all

she accomplished on behalf of her fellow Americans. I highly

recommend it.


Reviewed by Edith Wairimu

Frances Perkins: Champion of American Workers by Ruth Cashin

Monsell documents the remarkable story of a determined advocate

for workers’ rights. Perkins was born in 1880 in Boston,

Massachusetts to a middle-class family and later raised in

Worcester where her father owned a stationery business. In her

senior year of college, she met Florence Kelley, a dynamic social

justice crusader, and was exposed to the horrors that mill and

factory workers encountered daily. These two events would inspire

her lifelong mission to fight for the underprivileged. At just twenty six

and against her parents’ wishes, she left for New York to work

at the Charity Organization Society. Throughout her life, Perkins

continued her work as a champion for social justice and human

dignity, later becoming the first woman to serve in a presidential

cabinet as the United States Secretary of Labor.

This biography is an inspiring tribute to an outstanding woman

whose work continues to benefit millions of Americans. Perkins

came from an ordinary background and served as her family’s

breadwinner for years after her husband became unable to work

which shows that through determination, anyone can follow in her

footsteps and create change that improves the lives of others.

Perkins’s attributes, including her compassion for the less fortunate,

her visionary approach to her work, and her dedication to justice

and equality are all exceptional qualities that I found motivating.

The work contains current and historical details that I found

informative. Frances Perkins by Ruth Cashin Monsell is a brilliant,

well-compiled biography of a remarkable pioneer whose relentless

efforts paved the way for others and created a more equitable


And #3:

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite *****

In Frances Perkins: Champion of American Workers by Ruth Cashin Monsell, Frances "Fannie" Perkins, deeply affected by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in March 1911, devoted her life to social change. From her early settlement work in New York City, she championed workers' rights and safety regulations. Perkins, the first woman on the New York State Industrial Commission, reshaped labor

conditions. As the first woman U.S. Secretary of Labor during the Great Depression, she played a pivotal role in New Deal programs, facing opposition and criticism. Despite prejudice, Perkins left an indelible mark on American labor, recognized for her achievements and commitment to improving workers' conditions globally. After twelve years as Secretary of Labor, she continued public

service, leaving a legacy of lifelong dedication to public service and the labor movement. Perkins passed away in May 1965. She is remembered for her impactful contributions.

In Frances Perkins, Ruth Cashin Monsell effectively portrays Perkins' evolution from her childhood anticipation of summers in Maine to her role as a vocal and impactful commitment to social justice. Monsell does an excellent job of building on the foundational importance of youth and young adulthood so that we get a well- rounded picture of what drove this extraordinary woman. The writing style is clean, straightforward, and easy to become immersed in. Monsell engages readers, avoiding the pitfalls of textbook presentations, and instead turns the biography into a story, which is a testament to her skill as a writer. As someone who grew up in San Francisco, the standout to me is the San Francisco longshoremen strike, where Perkins quashed recommendations to

send in federal troops. Monsell writes, "She stood up for restraint and sent her own private cable to FDR. He thanked her for her frank assessment of the issues...and then gave her complete authority to speak for him." Perkins

approach averted potential bloodshed. Very highly recommended.


If you are interested in reviewing this book yourself, please get in touch.

It's possible to send an ARC (advance reader copy) electronically for you to do so next month.

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