The Only Woman in the Room: A Memoir

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Kodansha, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 171 pages
10 Reviews
The Only Woman in the Room is a vivid and very personal account of one woman's life in Europe, prewar Japan, and the United States. As the daughter of renowned Russian pianist Leo Sirota, Beate Gordon grew up in the cosmopolitan world of the concert tour, then settled in Japan in the 1930s.

During World War II, while her parents remained in Japan under secret service surveillance Gordon lived alone in the United States, monitoring Tokyo Radio in five languages for the government and later writing radio propaganda.

She recounts her dramatic reunion with her parents in Tokyo, where she worked in General MacArthur's headquarters, and evokes the postwar suffering in defeated Japan. Her intimate description of helping draft the women's rights section of Japan's new constitution is an astonishing record of history in the making.

On returning to the States in 1947, Mrs. Gordon became a cultural impresario, bringing artists, dancers, writers, and musicians from all over to the United States. Her adventures in search of performing artists in such remote and exotic places as Mongolia, Tibet, India, and Indonesia make for hilarious and sometimes hair-raising anecdotes.

The Only Woman in the Room can be appreciated on many levels -- armchair travelers, feminists, history buffs, and readers who appreciate a well-written memoir will all find Beate Gordon's extraordinary life a riveting read.

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Review: The Only Woman in the Room

User Review  - Alice Jennings - Goodreads

Only used one chapter on the drawing up of the constitution; the rest of the book is an autobiography of her life. It was good. Easy to read and insightful. Made me think perhaps women's rights were not a battle of the countries, but the sexes. Read full review

Review: The Only Woman in the Room

User Review  - Vicki - Goodreads

This was fantastic. Really quick, well-paced read, and her life was really interesting both before and after the drafting of the Japanese Constitution, so the book didn't have an abrupt drop-off after her "crown achievement" like I was expecting it to. Tons of great pictures too. Read full review

About the author (1997)

Beate Sirota Gordon (1923-2012) was an Austrian-born American performing arts impresario. Following her work on the Japanese Constitution, Gordon devoted her life to bringing the arts of Asia to the United States. She would receive many honorary degrees and awards, including an Obie, an American Dance Guild Award, and the Order of the Sacred Treasure from the Japanese government.

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