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A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960sby Stephanie Coontz
Synopses & Reviews
In 1963, Betty Friedan unleashed a storm of controversy with her bestselling book, The Feminine Mystique. Women wrote to her by the hundreds to say that the book had transformed, even saved, their lives. Nearly half a century later, many women still recall where they were and what they were doing when they first read the book. In A Strange Stirring, prominent historian of women and marriage Stephanie Coontz strips away the myths, examining what The Feminine Mystique actually said, and which groups of women were affected. Coontz takes us back to the early 1960s the age of Mad Men when the sexual revolution was barely nascent, middle class wives stayed at home, and husbands retained legal control over almost every aspect of family life. Based on extensive research in the magazines and popular culture of the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, as well as interviews with women and men who read The Feminine Mystique shortly after its publication, A Strange Stirring brilliantly illuminates how Friedans book emboldened a generation of women to realize that their boredom and dissatisfaction stemmed from political injustice rather than personal weakness.
An eminent social historian chronicles the extraordinary impact of Betty Friedans The Feminine Mystique on the lost generation” of American women
An illuminating analysis of the book that helped launch the movement that freed women to participate more fully in American society.”—Wall Street Journal
In 1963, Betty Friedan unleashed a storm of controversy with her bestselling book, The Feminine Mystique. Hundreds of women wrote to her to say that the book had transformed, even saved, their lives. Nearly half a century later, many women still recall where they were when they first read it.
In A Strange Stirring, historian Stephanie Coontz examines the dawn of the 1960s, when the sexual revolution had barely begun, newspapers advertised for perky, attractive gal typists,” but married women were told to stay home, and husbands controlled almost every aspect of family life. Based on exhaustive research and interviews, and challenging both conservative and liberal myths about Friedan, A Strange Stirring brilliantly illuminates how a generation of women came to realize that their dissatisfaction with domestic life didnt reflect their personal weakness but rather a social and political injustice.
About the Author
Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at Evergreen State College. Her books include Marriage, a History, The Way We Never Were, and The Way We Really Are. She lives in Olympia, Washington.
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