Jean Fritz

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 183

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Maria Child served so many causes and served them so zealously, a biographer less skillful than Milton Meltzer might easily depict her as one of those shrill women reformers who strode so militantly across the American scene in the middle of the 19th century. [In Tongue of Flame: The Life of Lydia Maria Child"], Mr. Meltzer falls into no such trap. Mrs. Child emerges as a gifted many-sided person who could commit herself totally and passionately to a movement without losing her independent view of it. And it is this view that, thanks to Mr. Meltzer, is so illuminating to the modern reader. Indeed, there could hardly be a better way to experience the cumulative effect of the slavery conflict, incident by incident.

"I sweep dead leaves out of paths and dust mirrors," Mrs. Child once said. Milton Meltzer has also dusted a mirror and he has done it well.

Jean Fritz, in her review of "Tongue of Flame: The Life of Lydia Maria Child," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1965 by The New York Times Company: reprinted by permission), July 18, 1965, p. 22.

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