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On the personal side, a best-case scenario; on the political side, a brilliant thinker sets the adrenaline flowing all over...

Betty Friedan tells her side of the story, in an autobiography so amiable that friends and enemies alike will wonder what happened to the confrontational woman who was the intellectual tsunami in the second-wave struggle for women’s rights.

Friedan (The Fountain of Age, 1993) sticks with the basic outline of earlier (unauthorized) profiles. Growing up “different” in Peoria, Illinois, Friedan felt out of step. Mainstream society (or her vision of it) shaped her thinking: change comes from the middle class, as she said later. Smith College disciplined her mind but did little to relieve the social pressures (in support of marriage and childrearing) that she felt she could not measure up to. Reflections on her children (“I never had problems with my kids”), her marriage (divorce only after years of black eyes), her lovers, and her travels are interesting enough, but they pale beside the recapitulation of her thoughts as she shapes The Feminine Mystique. With due credit to the then-anonymous women who urged her on, Friedan recounts the founding of the National Organization for Women. She walks us through the controversies that were engendered within the movement by a growing opposition to her belief that men are not the enemy, and although she admits disarmingly that her opinions have changed on some issues—especially her feelings towards lesbians—she still maintains that male vs. female separatism is a mistake. As the separatists gained power, she dropped out (or was maneuvered out) of feminist centers of power and moved on to preach independently about “second-stage” feminism. With a million-dollar Ford Foundation grant now behind her, Friedan now continues her research and writes on the “new paradigm” of social organization (emphasizing such practical supports for working families as childcare). Although friends say she has mellowed, Friedan declares bluntly that “I’ve always been a bad-tempered bitch.”

On the personal side, a best-case scenario; on the political side, a brilliant thinker sets the adrenaline flowing all over again.

Pub Date: May 10, 2000

ISBN: 0-684-80789-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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