Bella Abzug: How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Pissed Off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and Workers, Rallied Against War and for the Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way : an Oral History

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Macmillan, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 320 pages
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"I've been described as a tough and noisy woman, a prize fighter, a man-hater, you name it. They call me Battling Bella, Mother Courage, and a Jewish mother with more complaints than Portnoy. There are those who say I'm impatient, impetuous, uppity, rude, profane, brash, and overbearing. Whether I'm any of those things, or all of them, you can decide for yourself. But whatever I am--and this ought to made very clear--I am a very serious woman."   For more than fifty years, Bella Abzug championed the powerless and disenfranchised, as an activist, congresswoman, and leader in every major social initiative of her time—from Zionism and labor in the 40s to the ban-the-bomb efforts in the 50s, to civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War movements of the 60s, to the women’s movement in the 70s and 80s, to enviromnemtal awareness and economic equality in the 90s. Her political idealism never waning, Abzug gave her final public speech before the U.N. in March 1998, just a few weeks before her death. Presented in the voices of both friends and foes, of those who knew, fought with, revered, and struggled alongside her, this oral biography will be the first comprehensive account of a woman who was one of our most influential leaders. Suzanne Braun LevineandMary Thomare both nationally recognized authorities on women’s issues. Most recently, Levine is the author ofInventing the Rest of Livesand Thom is the author ofInside Ms. Bella Azbug said, "I've been described as a tough and noisy woman, a prize fighter, a man-hater, you name it. They call me Battling Bella, Mother Courage, and a Jewish mother with more complaints than Portnoy. There are those who say I'm impatient, impetuous, uppity, rude, profane, brash, and overbearing. Whether I'm any of those things, or all of them, you can decide for yourself. But whatever I am—and this ought to made very clear—I am a very serious woman."   For more than fifty years, Bella Abzug championed the powerless and disenfranchised, as an activist, congresswoman, and leader in every major social initiative of her time—from Zionism and labor in the 40s to the ban-the-bomb efforts in the 50s, to civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War movements of the 60s, to the women’s movement in the 70s and 80s, to environmental awareness and economic equality in the 90s. Her political idealism never waning, Abzug gave her final public speech before the U.N. in March 1998, just a few weeks before her death. Presented in the voices of both friends and foes, of those who knew, fought with, revered, and struggled alongside her, this oral biography will be the first comprehensive account of a woman who was one of our most influential leaders. "Abzug was certainly a major player in our change in attitudes in the second part of the past century [and] Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom give us a fascinating glimpse into [an] inspirational but undeniably peculiar period that is receding, all too quickly, into the past."—Carolyn See,The Washington Post "A fabulous read about a breed of politician now largely extinct . . . Levine and Thom have crafted a history that brings to life one of the great political personalities of the twentieth century."—Alice Echols,Bookforum   "Abzug was certainly a major player in our change in attitudes in the second part of the past century [and] Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom give us a fascinating glimpse into [an] inspirational but undeniably peculiar period that is receding, all too quickly, into the past."—Carolyn See,The Washington Post   "[A] fluid, sharply edited book . . . Abzug was a force of nature, and the stories about her are consistently feisty."—Jon Dolan,Time Out New York   "During this 'historic' election year, let me just say what so many of us are thinking: I miss Bella Abzug. And Barbara Jordan. What I would give to see Bella toss one of her signature striped, oversized hats into the presidential ring. Or to hear Barbara Jordan debate an comer, to hear her intone the preamble of the constitution as she reminds us of the true meanings of 'equality' and 'justice.' If only big, bold Bella or big, bold Barbara were here to run . . . and win. So far my only solace has been the recently published oral history of Bella . . . The book is edited by Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom, women with long histories of activism and scholarship in and about the women’s movement in America."—Susan Davis,The News & Observer(Raleigh)   "This is like being a fly on the wall for some of the most important moments in political history over the past fifty years. Being a part of this conversation makes you not just appreciate Bella's fierceness, but want to emulate it."—Amy Richards, co-author ofManifesta and former colleague of Bella

"Bella was a radical, patriotic and passionate about transforming the system—with the courage to work from outside and the patience to work from inside. Like her life, this book radiates drama, humor, tactical brilliance—and heart. Bella mattered. So does this book."—Jane Fonda

"Stumped about what to do in this messed up world? Just get to know Bella Abzug, one of the most important activists of the twentieth century. By gathering the reminiscences of people who lived their personal and political lives right along with her—and sometimes had the courage to break the rules alongside her too—the authors have created a memoir in many voices that captures the suspense, humor, and contradictions of this great woman. Read this book and then ask yourself,What would Bella do?"—Gloria Steinem

"Bella Abzug didn't vet her opinions through consultants and polls. She wasn't a highly orchestrated pre-fab candidate sprung from a well-oiled multi-million dollar corporate machine. She was the real deal. Pro-peace, pro-worker, pro-women. Angry, authentic, grassroots, alienating and alive. And, she actually got elected. This book is a call to all of us, but particularly those in government to run and lead through their own moral steam rather than blowing more hot air."—Eve Ensler

"Bella Abzugis an important, inspiring piece of history. There's nothing we need more right now than this kind of cogent reminder of what it takes to make change in the halls of power—and what's at stake if we don't."—Lisa Jervis, co-founder ofBitchmagazine
  

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Review: Bella Abzug: How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Pissed Off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and Workers, ... Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way

User Review  - Alicia Brooks - Goodreads

A fascinating oral history look at an amazing force to be reckoned with. It's a perfect book up start if you don't know about Bella beyond a few quotes. Read full review

Review: Bella Abzug: How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Pissed Off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and Workers, ... Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way

User Review  - Satia - Goodreads

I love the way this book is written, with concise anecdotes from people who loved Abzug and hated her, worked with her and argued with her, friends and family, there is a confluence of voices that ... Read full review

Contents

A Passion for Social Justice
3
Civil Rights and Civil Libertiesand Raising a Family
33
Building a Peace Movement
57
Transforming Local Politics
73
Building a New Coalition
85
An Outsider on the Inside
109
Building a Political Womens Movement
135
Becoming a Legislative Force in Congress
149
Mobilizing American Women Voters
195
Building an Agenda for WomenOne Meeting
229
Loss Poker and Family Politics
251
Going Global
261
Notes
285
Sources
295
Index
301
Copyright

Running and Losingand Regrouping
167

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About the author (2007)

Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thomare both nationally recognized authorities on women’s issues. Most recently, Levine is the author of Inventingthe Rest of Livesand Thom is the author ofInside Ms.

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