American Heroine

American Heroine : Life and Legend of Jane Addams

3.32 (25 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 362 pages
  • 157.48 x 231.14 x 33.02mm | 771.1g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 10ill.
  • 0195016947
  • 9780195016949

Review Text

Perhaps the current interest in the historical aspects of feminism is the impetus behind this superb biography of Jane Addams - the upper-class Victorian reformer par excellence who more or less invented modern social work in America when she founded Hull Settlement House in Chicago's immigrant slums in 1889. More interested in action than theory, temperamentally an optimistic pragmatist rather than a revolutionary idealist, she was a born compromiser and organizer, good at publicity and money-raising, and - despite a certain indescribable but apparently real aura that for a time made her America's favorite home-grown saint - a genius of a businesswoman in the Henry Ford tradition, whom in fact she later joined in his abortive (and ridiculed) World War I "Peace Ship" mission. Accused by foes of extremism, and fellow workers of conservatism, like Eleanor Roosevelt alternately sanctified (in the optimistic pre-War years) and vilified (in the '20's "Red Scare") - she was a leading influence in all the movements of her time: from labor legislation to unions to women's suffrage to anti-imperialism and pacifism. Indeed, she persisted in endeavors that would have exhausted the energy of ten ordinary women: heading many organizations, attending a constant series of conferences, lecturing endlessly, writing articles and books, etc. The author brings both psychological and sociological insight to this judicious but sympathetic account of a woman both worldly and spiritual, practical and naive, of particular interest today as a member of that first generation of college women for whom a career was more important than family, who preferred the companionship of their sisters (whom they believed would save the world) to that of men - a first lady of her time whose exaggerated extremes of reputation reflect more the changing political and social prejudices than the value of the ideas of this fair and gentle proponent of social justice. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Rating details

25 ratings
3.32 out of 5 stars
5 8% (2)
4 44% (11)
3 20% (5)
2 28% (7)
1 0% (0)
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