With wide-ranging research and her bull's-eye wit, New York Newsday columnist Lord celebrates as she satirizes the myth and magic, the life and times of Mattel's immortal girl toy. Barbie was born in 1959, the product of a confluence of factors: postwar America's booming marketplace for boomer children, conflicting ideas about women, and the revolution in plastics. Lord's account covers two aspects of Barbie's nature: ``doll-as- physical-object'' and ``doll-as-invented-personality.'' The story of Barbie as physical object is a coming-of-age story involving the rise (thanks to entrepreneurial chutzpah) and fall (resulting from SEC violations) of Barbie's inventor, Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler. It touches on international trade (Barbie's first dress designer, Seventh Avenue denizen Charlotte Johnson, spent a year in Tokyo overseeing the creation of the doll's original 22 outfits), unprecented industry expansion as evidenced by Mattel's growth, and innovations in advertising, merchandising, and promotion, such as motivational researcher Ernest Dichter's early study of Barbie's appeal to girls and their mothers (Barbie ``could be a cute decoration for a man's bar,'' said one unenthusiastic mother). The story of Barbie as invented personality—the promotional brainstorm that created Barbie's persona as a living female—is a coming-of-a- new-age story. It involves the increasingly dissonant notions about woman's power and place, as well as growing racial and ethnic awareness. Barbie's voluptuous body, says Lord, along with her various incarnations, including fashion model and photographer, made her a ``brave, new, vaguely selfish and decidedly subversive heroine'' in the mold of Helen Gurley Brown's Sex and the Single Girl. Barbie never had a husband; she earned her own keep and always wore a smile (and a fabulous outfit). True, Mattel introduced a boyfriend for her in 1961, but Ken ``was a mere accessory,'' Lord cracks, ``a drip with seriously abridged genitalia who wasn't very important in her life.'' Lord's intelligence and good humor bring a new attitude to feminist visions of popular culture and the women who love it. (65 photos, 15 in color, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 1994

ISBN: 0-688-12296-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?


From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet