In this powerful new history, New York Times bestselling author Max Wallace draws on groundbreaking research to reframe Helen Keller’s journey after the miracle at the water pump, vividly bringing to light her rarely discussed, lifelong fight for social justice across gender, class, race, and ability.
Raised in Alabama, she sent shockwaves through the South when she launched a public broadside against Jim Crow and donated to the NAACP. She used her fame to oppose American intervention in WWI. She spoke out against Hitler the month he took power in 1933 and embraced the anti-fascist cause during the Spanish Civil War. She was one of the first public figures to alert the world to the evils of Apartheid, raising money to defend Nelson Mandela when he faced the death penalty for High Treason, and she lambasted Joseph McCarthy at the height of the Cold War, even as her contemporaries shied away from his notorious witch hunt. But who was this revolutionary figure?
She was Helen Keller.
From books to movies to Barbie dolls, most mainstream portrayals of Keller focus heavily on her struggles as a deafblind child—portraying her Teacher, Annie Sullivan, as a miracle worker. This narrative—which has often made Keller a secondary character in her own story—has resulted in few people knowing that her greatest accomplishment was not learning to speak, but what she did with her voice when she found it.
After the Miracle is a much-needed corrective to this antiquated narrative. In this first major biography of Keller in decades, Max Wallace reveals that the lionization of Sullivan at the expense of her famous pupil was no accident, and calls attention to Keller’s efforts as a card-carrying socialist, fierce anti-racist, and progressive disability advocate. Despite being raised in an era when eugenics and discrimination were commonplace, Keller consistently challenged the media for its ableist coverage and was one of the first activists to highlight the links between disability and capitalism, even as she struggled against the expectations and prejudices of those closest to her.