RaveThe Nation...a definitive account of how deeply invested white women were in the slave economy of the South. Jones-Rogers’s book is a compendium of the actions taken by white women to preserve the wealth they had in human flesh as theirs alone. It scrupulously dismantles any image of slave-owning women as somehow less involved ... Jones-Rogers’s work also aligns with recent representations of slavery in popular media and historical fiction, which have revised their portrayals of white women as the myth of a special feminine compassion has begun to be dismantled ... Jones-Rogers continues to fill in the violent picture set out by these revisionary—which is to say, accurate—representations ... herein lies the greatest innovation of Jones-Rogers’s book—to show that the power white women wielded over enslaved people, reflected in horrific violence, extended into the economic structures of slavery ... They Were Her Property is a story of white women attaining power, and the book makes it undeniably clear that there is nothing inherently feminist or liberatory about the mere fact of women gaining power.
PanLos Angeles Review of Books\"While Dobrow notes that these statements reflect Todd’s perspective, she retains very little critical distance between her own narrative and the story as it was told by her subject ... Dobrow’s willingness to follow Todd’s interpretation of events matters for a key reason. It seems to have caused Dobrow’s biography to skip over what we do know about Susan: that Emily Dickinson adored her ... Despite her attention to Todd’s experience as shaped by gender, Dobrow’s book mostly side-steps the story of Dickinson and Susan, perhaps because this story would seem to weaken her argument about Todd — that we should be happy that it was Todd, not Susan, who edited Dickinson’s poems, and we should be happy about this because Todd developed a deep and personal and mystical knowledge of Dickinson’s mind ... There’s also something symptomatic about Dobrow’s treatment of Susan, for in the larger sense, Dobrow has missed the opportunity to tell the great story of a whole set of brilliant women living under gendered constraints in 19th-century Amherst, and bursting through them ... There’s also great irony in Dobrow’s failure to see the alliances among women who despised each other — because it is Todd who teaches us this lesson.\