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October 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Women's History Nonfiction
The books listed below, reviewed in Booklist over the past 12 months, document the wide range of women’s lives with particular resonance.
Fuller, Alexandra. Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight. Random, $24.95 (0-375-50750-7).
Fuller grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the civil war, and she watched her parents fight against the local Africans to keep their farm. In a memoir powerful in its frank straightforwardness, she neither apologizes for nor champions her family’s views and actions. Instead, she gives us an honest, moving portrait of one family struggling to survive tumultuous times.
Goodall, Jane. Beyond Innocence: An Autobiography in Letters, the Later Years. Ed. by Dale Peterson. Houghton, $28 (0-618-12520-5).
In the second volume of Goodall’s letters, a lively portrait is formed through her missives as the young woman rose to the height of her fame. This is an illuminating glimpse into the mind, emotions, and philosophy of an important scientist who also happens to be a celebrated figure.
Haddock, Doris and Burke, Dennis. Granny D: Walking across America in My Ninetieth Year. Villard, $19.95 (0-375-50539-3).
Despite suffering from painful arthritis and emphysema, 89-year-old Doris Haddock began to walk across the country to lobby for campaign finance reform. Granny D’s hilarious stories and surprisingly beautiful writing will win fans of all ages and political backgrounds.
Lovell, Mary S. The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family. Norton, $27.95 (0-393-01043-0).
Our age may be driven by “bytes,” but the early years of the twentieth century in England were socially driven by their own BYTs-“Beautiful Young Things”-and the six remarkable Mitford sisters were the epitome of the breed. Lovell presents the utter “fun” of this privileged but madcap family.
Oufkir, Malika and Fitoussi, Michele. Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail. Hyperion/Miramax, $23.95 (0-7868-6732-9).
General Oufkir probably led the 1972 attempted coup and assassination of King Hassan of Morocco, but his wife and children, including Malika, found out about it only after his execution. Guilt by association condemned them to more than 20 years of imprisonment, which Malika writes about in this extremely effective and graphic picture of evil.
Showalter, Elaine. Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage. Scribner/Lisa Drew, $27.50 (0-684-82263-6).
The chair of Princeton’s English department discusses several centuries of feminist icons in a gracefully written analysis of notable women from the U.S., Britain, and France.
Simeti, Mary Taylor. Travels with a Medieval Queen. Farrar, $25 (0-374-27878-4).
The author tells the fascinating story of Constance of Hauteville, a twelfth-century Sicilian princess renowned for her independent spirit and intrepid nature, who, although the daughter of a king, the wife of an emperor, and the mother of another emperor, carved out a unique niche in the annals of history.
Steingraber, Sandra. Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood. Perseus, $27 (0-7382-0467-6).
This ecologist, who became pregnant at age 38, describes her experience as becoming a habitat. Based on her dogged personal investigations, she reveals new information on pregnancy and childbirth, including environmental hazards to mothers and babies. A fabulous book.
Taylor, Kendall. Sometimes Madness Is Wisdom: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, a Marriage. Ballantine, $28 (0-345-44715-8).
Taylor presents the most thorough and uncensored chronicle yet of the tragic symbiosis between Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald. Fluent, deeply felt, and involving, Taylor’s astute double portrait pushes beyond the particulars of one mutually destructive marriage to illuminate the inherent conflict between art and life.
Travers, Susan and Holden, Wendy. Tomorrow to Be Brave: A Memoir of the Only Woman Ever to Serve in the French Foreign Legion. Free Press, $25 (0-7432-0001-2).
Travers, who used her skills as a nurse and a driver to wangle a position in the all-male French Foreign Legion during World War II and was awarded the prestigious Legion d’honneur, narrates the story of her remarkable life. The result is an extraordinary true tale of love, war, and adventure that reads like fiction.
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