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This study relates the experiences of controversial actress and poet Adah Isaacs Menken to the culture of the Civil War period which significantly affected her life achievements. The book explores the roots of the cult of celebrity that emerged from the crucible of war, while discussing Menken's racial and ethnic claims and her performance in relationship to gender and sexuality. It focuses on the contemporary use of social categories to explain patterns in America's past and considers why such categories remain important.
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