This is a very very good social history of Black women in New York and Philadelphia in the early decades of the 20th century. Drawing from sources like diary entries, court and police records, newspaper articles, and other sources that are then flipped on their face to tell the everyday histories of women who would and have been lost to history. So rather than let the sources be definitive, there’s a kind of inverting them. This is told in a narrative history way so it’s like reading a novel, and there’s some invention to be sure, but the focus here is to take what has been official history, and allowing in to become this oral history. If for example, you have a police report about arresting “prostitutes” in a sting, and knowing that such stings were actually a total railroading of innocent (if wayward) Black women to extort court fees, to use them against Black men, and just the normal kinds of control exerted of Black women by state authorities. So here, we instead get the story of the women themselves. In this history, these are women who are champions of anti-heternormativity and anti-capitalism. They aren’t activists, but instead survivors fighting for some kind of freedom of movement, and finding some version of it for themselves, and of course beaten down, murdered, imprisoned, or gelded for their efforts. This is about finding actual democracy within the wholly anti-democratic United States. It’s a deeply sad book you need to know going in, but it’s really good.