A Review of
When Others Shuddered: Eight Women Who Refused to Give Up.
Reviewed by Mark Eckel
This review originally appeared on the reviewer’s website, and is reprinted here with permission.
They prayed with prostitutes. They confronted gangsters. They entered tawdry saloons. In each place, with each person, they sang, preached, celebrated, and applied scripture. From the first page, I—a man—wanted to be like these women. But as Jamie says, they were “ordinary,” folks just like me and you. Jamie’s real interest is not simply to tell you their story, but to live their story. Jamie Janosz has given us this, her storied thesis, in her good work When Others Shuddered: Eight Women who Refused to Give Up (Moody, 2014).
I winced as I read of life’s difficulties for women like Nettie McCormick. Sacrifice marked the life of Sarah Dunn Clark as she lived with the people she served. We even discover The Spirit of God used Clark’s preaching to bring the famed evangelist Billy Sunday to faith in Christ. The women often worked alone in their respective vocations, whether widowed or single. Amanda Smith stands as a beacon to African-American women everywhere in her tireless service of her Savior. Her commitment to Bible teaching touched not only Chicago but Europe, Africa, and Asia. She reached multitudes with God’s Word and touched the hearts of all who knew her. Virginia Asher figuratively “lit a torch” for others to follow. I personally have a special place in my heart for The Salvation Army and was thrilled to read Evangeline Booth’s story: Booth left a rich legacy serving the poor. Mary Bethune cheered my soul as I read of her deep desire to learn Scripture. Then what a delight to learn she to graced the White House halls (178-79)! Bethune left a Christian influence in the position created for her: Office of Minority Affairs. Her African-American words invigorate us all, “Our aim must be to create a world of fellowship and justice where no man’s skin, color or religion, is held against him” (182).
Each chapter grabs the reader by the throat. Written in short sections Shuddered appeals to the laser-focused reader. We are given one person, one period, one event, one idea to consider. We have much for which to thank Jamie. I cannot imagine how many times she sneezed pouring over dusty parchments from which she culled the marvelous stories! Cultural, historical connections dot the stories’ landscapes. Each point of knowledge enriches our view of the whole.
For years Jamie has taught Moody students how to write. What a treasure they have received! First lines compel us to continue reading. Arresting stories propel the reader. Verbal pictures capture our thoughts. Anecdotes bring us to the very spirit of the biography—the life of each lady. Pages become palettes for their persons. Portraits are painted through prose. Jamie honors history. She preserves the memory of each woman for the 21st century woman. Historical sketches from other writers can at times do a disservice through anachronism. Jamie does not cloud the past with the present. She allows history to instruct us through her writing of history.