Now in print: A new biography of the first woman elected to Congress (from Montana)

Kevin S. Giles has published "One Woman Against War: The Jeannette Rankin Story."

Kevin S. Giles has published “One Woman Against War: The Jeannette Rankin Story.” The biography details the life and times of America’s first woman in Congress.

By Kevin S. Giles
Let me introduce you to my new book, a biography.

Exactly 100 years ago, in 1916, a woman from Montana decided to campaign for Congress. She succeeded, and that woman, Jeannette Rankin, became an overnight national curiosity.

My new biography, One Woman Against War: The Jeannette Rankin Story, is actually a new and expanded edition of my original biography, Flight of the Dove. I chose the new title because I thought it more specifically described Rankin’s lifelong pursuit of pacifism – and most accurately described her public activism.

One Woman Against War is available through my publisher HERE.

Years after I published the original biography, I began thinking about further developing the story. Older, more savvy and more skilled, I wanted a deeper portrait of her. We’re fellow Montanans, you see.

In the first book, I thought of Rankin as more of a feminist. In the second, she emerged as more of a pacifist.

The early woman suffrage movement, of which Rankin was a notable participant, was about the right to vote. Not until the tumultuous Vietnam War years did feminism merge with the antiwar protests, joining one cause with another.

Jeannette Rankin hoped for that merger decades earlier.

Even before World War I she anticipated that women would use their votes to stop war. In her vision they could use the vote to correct abuses such as child labor, yes, but ultimately to influence the direction of a country that she saw as mad with war.

One Woman Against War is the story of Rankin’s evolution from Montana ranch girl to American icon, a woman seen as heroic by many and treasonous by others.

You’ll have to read the book to find out why.

It’s a 472-page account of her long life, including her terms in the US House of Representatives and her leadership in peace organizations nationwide.

One Woman Against War has extensive footnotes, a select bibliography and an index. It documents her private life as well as her public involvement, casting her in the times that gave context to her standing as the nation’s first “outstanding living feminist.”

Kevin S. Giles is an American journalist and author whose books have roots in his native western Montana. One Woman Against War was published in October 2016. Two other books take place in his hometown of Deer Lodge: a novel, “Summer of the Black Chevy” (2015) and the nonfiction work, “Jerry’s Riot: The True Story of Montana’s 1959 Prison Disturbance.” (2005)