MAMO: The Life and Times of Dame Mary Eugenia Charles

Gabriel Christian has published a new biography of the late Dominican Prime Minister Dame Eugenia Charles. The site has posted a review by Thomson Fontaine. Here are some excerpts, with a link to the full text below.

“She is listed by Guida-Myrl Jackson-Laufer in her book, Women Rulers Throughout the Ages among the likes of Catherine of Aragon, Golda Meir, Elizabeth the First and Margaret Thatcher. Charles Gulatta’s 1999 book, Extraordinary Women in Politics, locates Charles among a veritable pantheon of historical leaders such as Cleopatra VII, Queen of Egypt; Mary, Queen of Scotts; Isabella, the first queen of a unified Spain and Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia.”
The above quote is from Judge Irving Andre in his introduction to MAMO: The Life and Times of Dame Mary Eugenia Charles,  written by Gabriel Christian and published this week. The book tells the story, often in her own words, of the woman who ruled Dominica from 1980 to 1995. Indeed, Dame Mary Eugenia Charles is arguably one of the most well known leaders of the twentieth century.

. . .
Christian tells the story simply and brilliantly, of the woman who was equally loved and reviled by those who knew her. Most of her story is retold based on interviews he conducted with her during the 1990s at his home in Maryland, USA. To tell the story of Mamo is to recount the historical evolution of Dominica and to some extent the Caribbean, from the late 1940s to the mid-1990s, and there Christian does not disappoint. He artfully weaves the story of the political heavyweights of this era, Patrick John, Roosevelt Douglas, Edward Leblanc, Maurice Bishop, Frank Baron and others, ultimately into that of Dame Eugenia Charles.

. . .
Consider her encounter with racism in the 1940s. She was first denied service in a restaurant because she was black and after having to give up her plane seat to a white gentleman.
Traveling by train to New York in the company of black US soldiers and a few elderly black women she bravely forced her way into the dining car, refusing to take no for an answer.
Her leadership and courage, which would grow considerably in the years ahead, greatly emboldened the black soldiers. The whole episode left its mark on her but she refused to be bitter or hold any grudges, bravely stating “I never got bitter about this black and white business. The reason is that every time they tried to hit me with something because I was black, I would meet another person who didn’t realize I was black and helped me.”. . .

In the end, it is about a story that had to be told and we are grateful that Christian found the time to tell it. The veritable collection of rare photos only adds to the story’s worth. That he took the time to listen to the great woman, and the time to chronicle her life and rise to power means we are the better for it. After all, we are left with the stirring account of one of the more recognizable names of the twentieth century, a woman who although coming from a small island refused to let that limit her scope and accomplishments; a lesson that we could all do well to learn from.
Listen to the author as he talks to about his latest book
Copies of MAMO: The Life and Times of Dame Mary Eugenia Charles are available at, or from the author at

For the full review go to

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