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Overview

"Crack shot." "Enigma woman." "Good with ponies and pistols." "A much-married woman."
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Enigma Woman

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Overview

"Crack shot." "Enigma woman." "Good with ponies and pistols." "A much-married woman."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Nellie Madison might have been the first woman executed in California: in 1934, though she claimed innocence, she was convicted of first-degree murder for shooting her husband, Eric Madison, and sentenced to hang. After hiring a new lawyer for her appeal, though, Madison confessed to the crime, describing a marriage filled with emotional and physical abuse and an attempt by Eric to blackmail her after she found him in bed with a much younger woman. Her claim of abuse was supported by similar testimony by one of Eric's ex-wives. Eventually, her sentence was commuted and she was paroled after nine years in prison. Cairns (Front-Page Women Journalists, 1920–1950) wants not to exonerate Madison but to explore the complexity of a woman who she says was reduced to a caricature by the media of the time. Madison did not fit the traditional role of homemaker and mother. Having eloped at the age of 13, she had married several times, was familiar with guns and refused to speak publicly about the crime. Nellie was pegged by the media as a femme fatale, a character out of a noir tale. The author has done considerable research in this well-written true crime chronicle, but what happened in Nellie's bedroom in 1934 still remains an enigma. 15 photos. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803206922
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2007
  • Series: Women in the West
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


Kathleen A. Cairns is a lecturer in the Department of History at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. She is the author of Front-Page Women Journalists, 1920–1950 (Nebraska 2003).
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations viii

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue 1

1 A Girl from Montana 11

2 Midnight Alibi 31

3 Outlaw Woman 45

4 Enigma Woman 59

5 The Ultimate Penalty 77

6 The People v. Nellie Madison 95

7 The Defense 115

8 Lady Macbeth 133

9 The Verdict 145

10 A Condemned Woman 159

11 An Abused Woman 179

12 The Reprieve 199

13 Life in Prison 219

14 A Traditional Woman 241

Notes 249

Bibliographic Essay 269

Index 289

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