Coming of Age with Hillary's Class--Wellesley '69
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Articulate, analytical social history of a defining era in 10th-century America. It’s been 30 years since Hillary Rodham Clinton stood before her Wellesley graduation class and extemporaneously berated the graduation speech previously given by Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke, and the class of ’69 is still struggling to define womanhood today. Horn, who writes for U.S. News & World Report, methodically chronicles that internal and external debate as she weaves the personal stories of Hillary’s classmates with insights and facts from the outside world. The result is a fascinating, thorough portrait, not only of a collegial group but of a society battling to understand shifting gender and social roles. Surprisingly, for an institution that prided itself on its collective intellect, Wellesley was behind the times. Freshmen in this era still wore white gloves for special events, listened to marriage lectures as part of their curriculum, and lived in racially and religiously segregated dorms. Alumna Nora Ephron summed up the college’s stance at her tenth-year reunion in 1972: “[Wellesley wants] for us to avoid the extremes, to be instead that thing in the middle: an example to the community, a Samaritan.” Wellesley women, then, had to learn to break out of their own protected bubble before they could challenge the world at large. Although set in a larger social context, this is a very personal book. Many of the women are remarkably candid about their difficulties in trying to find their way through uncharted territory and the inevitable frustration that comes from being first. Although Hillary Clinton was obviously a prime impetus for the writing of this book, she is refreshingly absent for much of it. Instead, other women speak out, and if society is wise, it will listen hard to what they have to say. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-8129-2501-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Anchor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1999