Dear Rhoda by Donna Russell and David Ranney

Charles H. Kerr Publishing

Regular price $10.00

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In chaotic bohemian Chicago of the 1920s, a powerful love affair is threatened by illness, a “red” scare and anti Semitic hatred. Confined to a TB sanitarium, Rhoda corresponds with Jerry, a left wing Jewish bookseller. Their letters reveal that the challenges and hatred they face are countered by their mutual love for each other; their love of literature, poetry, and music; and the left wing political causes they fight for. Their struggles come to life in the counter culture of Chicago’s Dil Pickle Club, which is frequented by Rhoda, Jerry, and their friends like poet Carl Sandburg, lawyer Clarence Darrow, labor leader Jack Jones, hobo and left wing debater Lizzie Davis, and feminist “Red” Martha Biegler. The discovery of the letters nearly a century later in an abandoned trunk offers a message of hope by linking their past to the present.
Dimensions: 5" x 7"
Materials: Softcover book


Charles H. Kerr Publishing
(South Chicago)

Founded by Charles Hope Kerr, a son of abolitionists, in 1886, Charles H. Kerr Publishing is the oldest continuously running radical publisher in the US, offering "subversive literature for the whole family." Close to the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World, Kerr brought out many Marxist classics, including the first complete English edition of Capital (1906–1909), as well as works by anarchist Peter Kropotkin, feminist Matilda Joslyn Gage, Irish revolutionist James Connolly, animal rights crusader J. Howard Moore, such noted U.S. socialists as Eugene V. Debs, “Mother” Jones, Upton Sinclair, Jack London, Gustavus Myers, Carl Sandburg, William D. Haywood, Mary E. Marcy—whose Shop Talks on Economics (1911) sold over two million copies—and, more recently, Staughton Lynd, C. L. R. James, and Carlos Cortez.

Donna Russell was a hair stylist for 27 years before going into the restaurant business. Until “Dear Rhoda” her experience in writing was mostly shopping lists! Now she spends her time writing, directing and producing live theatrical productions that are meant to entertain, involve the residents of her Washington Island community and raise funds for the local performing arts center. She lives on Washington Island, Wisconsin and Naples, Florida with her husband of 55 years, Larry.

David Ranney is Professor Emeritus in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago. He received his BA degree at Dartmouth College and his PhD at Syracuse University. Professor Ranney has also been a factory worker, a labor and community organizer and an activist academic. He is the author of four books, a play and numerous articles and monographs on issues of employment, labor and community organizing and U.S. trade policy. Some of his recent essays and books may be found on