A Strange Stirring by Stephanie Coontz
The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s

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Synopsis

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 didn’t reflect their personal weakness but rather a social and political injustice.

 

About Stephanie Coontz

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Stephanie Coontz is a member of the faculty of Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, where she is a historian and an expert on American culture.
 
Published January 4, 2011 by Basic Books. 250 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Psychologists and so-called experts often blamed the problem on the women themselves for their inability to conform, but Friedan diagnosed it presciently as the thwarting of “the need to grow and fulfill their potentialities as human beings.” In fact, there was a name for what was ailing American...

Jan 11 2011 | Read Full Review of A Strange Stirring: The Femin...

Publishers Weekly

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Social historian Coontz (Marriage, a History) analyzes the impact of Betty Friedan's groundbreaking 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, on the generation of white, middle-class women electrified by Frie

Dec 06 2010 | Read Full Review of A Strange Stirring: The Femin...

The New York Times

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The social historian Stephanie Coontz re-evaluates “The Feminine Mystique” and its author, Betty Friedan.

Jan 20 2011 | Read Full Review of A Strange Stirring: The Femin...

Publishers Weekly

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Social historian Coontz (Marriage, a History) analyzes the impact of Betty Friedan's groundbreaking 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, on the generation of white, middle-class women electrified by Friedan's argument that beneath the surface contentment, most housewives harbored a deep well of inse...

Dec 06 2010 | Read Full Review of A Strange Stirring: The Femin...

The Wall Street Journal

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Friedan was "optimistic" about marriage and once suggested that her tombstone read: "She helped make women feel better about being women and therefore better able to freely and fully love men."

Jan 04 2011 | Read Full Review of A Strange Stirring: The Femin...

Review (Barnes & Noble)

Since its publication in 1963, The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan has been credited with launching the contemporary women's movement and decried for tearing housewives from home.

Jan 14 2011 | Read Full Review of A Strange Stirring: The Femin...

Book Forum

Coontz reconciles Friedan's flawed text with its seemingly outsized influence, and deftly depicts the social context for the dramatic testimonials uncovered in Coontz's research, the revelatory proto-feminist experiences shared by women of her mother's generation: "Women who told [her] over and o...

Jan 03 2011 | Read Full Review of A Strange Stirring: The Femin...

Book Forum

Coontz reconciles Friedan's flawed text with its seemingly outsized influence, and deftly depicts the social context for the dramatic testimonials uncovered in Coontz's research, the revelatory proto-feminist experiences shared by women of her mother's generation: "Women who told [her] over and o...

Jan 03 2011 | Read Full Review of A Strange Stirring: The Femin...

SeniorWomen.com

When Coontz’ editor asked her to write about the impact of The Feminine Mystique she sat down to re-read a book she thought she knew well, but in fact, had never read.

| Read Full Review of A Strange Stirring: The Femin...

The Wall Street Journal

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After growing up amid the hardships of the 1930s, and making sacrifices to support the nation’s all-out effort to win World War II, many families thought the cloistered suburban lives of the 1950s looked like a bonanza, Coontz explains in “A Strange Stirring,” a look at the impact of Betty Frieda...

Jun 29 2011 | Read Full Review of A Strange Stirring: The Femin...

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