Unwise Passions (Paperback)

A True Story of a Remarkable Woman---and the First Great Scandal of Eighteenth-Century America

By Alan Pell Crawford

Simon & Schuster, 9780743264679, 336pp.

Publication Date: February 14, 2005

List Price: 20.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


In the spring of 1793, eighteen-year-old Nancy Randolph, the fetching daughter of one of the greatest of the great Virginia tobacco planters, was accused, along with her brother-in-law, of killing her newborn son. Once one of the most sought-after young women in Virginia society, she was denounced as a ruined Jezebel, and the great orator Patrick Henry and future Supreme Court justice John Marshall were retained to defend her in a sensational trial. This gripping account of murder, infanticide, prostitution charges, moral decline, and heroism that played out in the intimate lives of the nation's Founding Fathers is as riveting and revealing as any current scandal -- in or out of Washington.

About the Author

Alan Pell Crawford is the author of Thunder on the Right: The "New Right" and the Politics of Resentment, which The New Republic called "a significant work of political and intellectual history." He lives in Richmond, Virginia, with his wife, Sally Curran, and their two sons, Ned and Tim.

Praise For Unwise Passions: A True Story of a Remarkable Woman---and the First Great Scandal of Eighteenth-Century America

The Washington Times This book is a Must Read for anyone who wants an inside story of the early struggles of our country and of a remarkable true heroine.

The News & Observer Crawford addresses his subject with a historian's accuracy, and he generously spices his text with rich and gossipy details....[He] crafts an elegant, true history with intelligence and grace.

Richmond Times-Dispatch Reminiscent of both Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and James Fox's White Mischief, Crawford's book is more than simply an interesting addition to Virginiana. Unwise Passions blends social history, politics, and mystery into what would become a classic work of scholarship. That the book is such an entertaining read is the bonus bestowed by an author of much talent.

Richard Brookhiser, The Wall Street Journal [A]n unbeatable tale....We think of the Founders as men of marble, but they knew that human hearts (including their own) could be dark and tempestuous. That is why they built their political systems with such care. Unwise Passions is the black velvet backdrop to an introductory course in political philosophy.

The Washington Post Book World ...an engaging exercise in popular history...[Nancy Randolph] was an extra-ordinary woman...and we are indebted to Alan Pell Crawford for rescuing her from undeserved oblivion.