Heaven's Bride by Leigh Eric Schmidt
The Unprintable Life of Ida C. Craddock, American Mystic, Scholar, Sexologist, Martyr, and Madwoman

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Ida Craddock was a dreamy, driven autodidact who was in her own strange way more American than the persecuting agent of the state...Heavenly bride, free-speech martyr, full-blown American eccentric, Craddock is reanimated by Mr. Schmidt's biography. Even skeptics will hope that somewhere, somehow, she and Soph are finding their bliss.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

The nineteenth-century eccentric Ida C. Craddock was by turns a secular freethinker, a religious visionary, a civil-liberties advocate, and a resolute defender of belly-dancing. Arrested and tried repeatedly on obscenity charges, she was deemed a danger to public morality for her candor about sexuality. By the end of her life Craddock, the nemesis of the notorious vice crusader Anthony Comstock, had become a favorite of free-speech defenders and women’s rights activists. She soon became as well the case-history darling of one of America’s earliest and most determined Freudians.

In Heaven’s Bride, prize-winning historian Leigh Eric Schmidt offers a rich biography of this forgotten mystic, who occupied the seemingly incongruous roles of yoga priestess, suppressed sexologist, and suspected madwoman. In Schmidt’s evocative telling, Craddock’s story reveals the beginning of the end of Christian America, a harbinger of spiritual variety and sexual revolution.

 

About Leigh Eric Schmidt

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Leigh Eric Schmidt is Charles Warren Professor of American Religious History at Harvard University, and the author of numerous books, including Restless Souls and Consumer Rites. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts.
 
Published December 7, 2010 by Basic Books. 354 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction
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Above average
Reviewed by BILL KAUFFMAN on Dec 11 2010

Ida Craddock was a dreamy, driven autodidact who was in her own strange way more American than the persecuting agent of the state...Heavenly bride, free-speech martyr, full-blown American eccentric, Craddock is reanimated by Mr. Schmidt's biography. Even skeptics will hope that somewhere, somehow, she and Soph are finding their bliss.

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