The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West by Christopher CorbettThe Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West by Christopher Corbett

The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild West

byChristopher Corbett

Paperback | February 18, 2011

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When Gold Rush fever gripped the globe in 1849, thousands of Chinese came through San Francisco to seek fortune. In The Poker Bride, Christopher Corbett uses a legend of one extraordinary woman as a lens into this experience. Before 1849, the Chinese in the United States were little more than curiosities. But as word spread of gold in California, San Francisco's labyrinthine Chinatown sprang up, a city-within-a-city full of exotic foods and strange smells where Chinese women were smuggled into the country. At this time Polly, a young Chinese concubine, was brought by her owner to a remote mining camp in the highlands ofIdaho, where he lost her in a poker game. Polly and her new owner then settled at an isolated ranch on the banks of the Salmon River. As the Gold Rush receded, it took with it the Chinese miners, but left behind Polly, who would make headlines when - as an old woman - she emerged from the Idaho hills nearly half a century later to tell her astounding story. The Poker Bride reconstructs a tale of the real American West: a place where the first Chinese flooded the country and left their mark long after the craze for gold had vanished.
Christopher Corbett is the author of Orphans Preferred: The Twisted Truth and Lasting Legend of the Pony Express, as well as a novel, Vacationland . He teaches journalism at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
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Title:The Poker Bride: The First Chinese in the Wild WestFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.7 inPublished:February 18, 2011Publisher:Grove/AtlanticLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0802145272

ISBN - 13:9780802145277

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Reviews

Editorial Reviews

'Exhaustively researched... Corbett uses Bemis's story as a platform for a larger discussion about the hardships of the Chinese experience in the American West.'-Aaron Leitko, The Washington Post 'Corbett's accomplishment in pulling this dark history into a popular narrative is all the more impressive when you consider the difficulty of reporting on a foreign population that lived mainly outside the reach of census takers and journalists... Corbett handles a great deal of sordid material with sensitivity... In restoring to the poker bride a more honest and complete history, Corbett undoes generations of self-serving mythology.'-Dominique Browning, The New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)'Imagine McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Deadwood hand-stitched together and given a novel slant as a mini-epic of Chinese immigrant life. That suggests the polyglot vitality of The Poker Bride ... a juicy combination of social history and deconstructed myth... [Corbett] juggles facts and apocrypha like a master... with The Poker Bride, Corbett cements his claim as an ace surveyor of America's borderland of fable.'-Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun 'In The Poker Bride, Christopher Corbett delves deep into the soul of the real old west, using the story of one Chinese 'sojourner'-a young woman named Polly-as the thread to link a thousand pearls of fact and lore and whatever you call those fragments of story that lie somewhere in between. All I can say is, Twain would be proud.'-Erik Larson, author of The Devil in the White City '[Corbett] provides a colorful overview of the Chinese experience.'-Melanie Kirkpatrick, The Wall Street Journal 'Corbett gracefully weaves the history of the Chinese in the 19th-century American West... Corbett's intriguing book will appeal to readers interested in the narrative history of the American West and tales of the mining camps... Corbett's accomplished book will engage history buffs and general readers alike.'- Library Journal (starred review)'[Corbett] turns a dark chapter in our history into compelling reading.'- The Week 'The main strength of Corbett's book is his detailed description of life in wide-open California and the Pacific Northwest... [Polly Bemis'] story is remarkable, and Corbett's research is certainly thorough. The Poker Bride adds immeasurably to the Asian-American nonfiction catalog.'-Martin Brady, Bookpage