A Revolution in Three Acts: The Radical Vaudeville of Bert Williams, Eva Tanguay, and Julian Eltinge
What a wonderful way to tell the story of three figures from Vaudeville’s history and to explain the context of Vaudeville in American history, at the same time. I looked forward to reading A Revolution in Three Acts by David Hajdu and John Carey because I incorporate Bert Williams’ biography in my Gilded Age history course. However, I was not aware of Eva Tanguay and Julian Eltinge, the others featured in Three Acts, and I’m so glad I know about them now.
These three performers, Williams, an African American comedic performer, Tanguay, a rebellious female singer, and Eltinge, a male performer in female drag, were an essential part of the success and revolutionary aspect of Vaudeville in the Gilded Age. Hajdu offers a clear history with humor and research that makes the book fun and informative, with lovely illustrations by Carey. I often find that graphic novels are more work for the reader than reading a straight history, but in this case, the format of a graphic novel is perfect and masterfully written. I am excited to recommend this book to my students and recommend it to people interested in the history of Vaudeville or variety acts and social history.
|Columbia University Press
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