Review of The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear by Kate Moore Rating *****
Every story has a protagonist and an antagonist. Elizabeth Packard, the protagonist of this story, had a slew of antagonists, including her husband, her doctor, politicians, church members, and an extended cast of male figures who believed themselves superior to women.
If ever there was a story that demonstrated the difference one determined individual can make, it is this one. Elizabeth Packard was involuntarily committed to an insane asylum solely because her beliefs differed from her husband’s. Her battle to right this wrong not only benefited her but countless other women in similar straits. The whole idea of women’s rights and equality starts with her. Others followed, but Elizabeth laid the foundation.
The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal.” It didn’t say anything about women. Women at that time were only slightly ahead of slaves thanks to egregious laws and regulations that stripped women of equal rights.
When Elizabeth’s quest for change hit a brick wall due to some ridiculous law stripping women of a fundamental right, she campaigned to have that and similar laws banned or rewritten. She accomplished this through her writings and public speaking. When no publisher would agree to publish her story, she published her work herself, using what the author described as an early example of crowdfunding. She did this despite having to fight off opponents who questioned her sanity.
If you’re someone who doesn’t read nonfiction because you think it’s boring or tedious, I strongly urge you to reconsider. You won’t find a novel with a more compelling story, a richness of characters, and an eloquence of the written word than Elizabeth’s writings and that of author Kate Moore, who weaved together this amazing tale. I also recommend the author’s other book Radium Girls.