Life So Far: A Memoir

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Simon and Schuster, Aug 1, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 400 pages
5 Reviews
At last Betty Friedan herself speaks about her life and career. With the same unsparing frankness that made The Feminine Mystique one of the most influential books of our era, Friedan looks back and tells us what it took -- and what it cost -- to change the world. Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963, started the women's movement it sold more than four million copies and was recently named one of the one hundred most important books of the century. In Life So Far, Friedan takes us on an intimate journey through her life -- a lonely childhood in Peoria, Illinois salvation at Smith College her days as a labor reporter for a union newspaper in New York (from which she was dismissed when she became pregnant) unfulfilling and painful years as a suburban housewife finding great joy as a mother and writing The Feminine Mystique, which grew out of a survey of her Smith classmates and started it all. Friedan chronicles the secret underground of women in Washington, D.C., who drafted her in the early 1960s to spearhead an "NAACP" for women, and recounts the courage of many, including some Catholic nuns who played a brave part in those early days of NOW, the National Organization for Women. Friedan's feminist thinking, a philosophy of evolution, is reflected throughout her book. She recognized early that the women's movement would falter if institutions did not change to reflect the new realities of women's lives, and she fought to keep the movement practical and free of extremism, including "man-hating." She describes candidly the movement's political infighting that brought her to the point of legal action and resulted in a long breach with fellow leaders Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug. Friedan is frank about her twenty-two-year marriage to Carl Friedan, an advertising entrepreneur. She writes about the explosive cycle of drinking, arguing, and physical battering she endured and explores her prolonged inability to leave the marriage. (They are now friends and the grandparents of nine.) Friedan was not only pivotal in the founding of NOW, she was also the driving force behind the creation of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), the National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC), and the First Women's Bank and Trust Company. She made history by introducing the issue of sex discrimination as an argument against the ratification of a Supreme Court nominee. She convinced the Secretary General of the United Nations to declare 1975 the International Year of the Woman. In this volume, Friedan brings to extraordinary life her bold and contentious leadership in the movement. She lectures, writes, leads think tanks, and organizes women and men to work together in political, legal, and social battles on behalf of women's rights.--From publisher description.
  

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Review: Life So Far: A Memoir

User Review  - Zoe Nicholson - Goodreads

opening days of NOW. Read full review

Review: Life So Far: A Memoir

User Review  - Deidre - Goodreads

Really interesting read. Its always hard to see the humanity of one of your idols. I was surprised by both Friedan's nonchalance regarding her husbands long term physical abuse and her admitted ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
13
two Discovering the Life of the Mind
34
three Becoming Political Becoming Sexual
55
four A Happy Suburban Housewife
86
FIVE The Mystery of My Writing
106
six It Changed My Whole Life
138
seven Starting the Womens Movement
164
eight Out of the Mainstream into the Revolution
180
nine The Enemies Without
211
ten Triumph and Treachery
234
eleven Travels with Emily
258
twelve Rules of Engagement
290
thirteen Shattering the Age Mystique
318
fourteen New Beginnings
351
Index
381
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About the author (2006)

A founder of NOW and a vanguard leader of the Women's Movement, Betty Friedan was the author of The Feminine Mystique, It Changed My Life, The Second Stage, Beyond Gender, and The Fountain of Age. She taught at Northwestern University, Yale, Temple, Harvard, and USC. She died in 2006.

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