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Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow / HarperCollins; 1st edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380976498
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380976492
  • ASIN: B000HWYXR2
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,484,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While historians have studied various subsets of women working class, professional, radical, etc., little attention has been paid to the single woman. As journalist Israel documents in this impressive history of single women in America from the Industrial Revolution to modern times, these women have maintained a flourishing subculture, despite attacks and ridicule by the media. While focusing primarily on white, middle-class Manhattan women, Israel draws on a variety of sources, movies, popular novels, magazine and newspaper features that shape the single-woman experience for the broader population. "B-girls" bachelor or bohemian, have always been with us, some from lack of marriage prospects, true, but many by preference. Israel says it's mainly the appeal of the companionship of other women and the desire for independence from marital suppression that keeps these women from tying the knot. Social acceptance of singletons has flip-flopped over the generations. Positive icons, including the emancipated New Woman, settlement house professionals, WWII's Rosie the Riveter, and liberated '70s "chicks," have alternated with scary images of frigid, lonely Old Maids staring at their used-up biological clocks. But even as social critics have changed their tunes about how much rope to allow these women, the women themselves brave factory girls, Bowery Girls, "shoppies," Greenwich Village bohemians, flappers, Murphy Browns and Bridget Joneses have been tough enough to have it "their way." Israel's witty and provocative look at a topic dear to many women deserves wide readership.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Journalist Israel (Growing Up Fast) writes wittily but reveals few "secrets" about single women in this chronicle of white, never-married women in New York City since the 18th-century. In describing settlement workers and immigrant factory girls, sales clerks and office workers, she draws copiously from standard secondary accounts, and from the popular press she gleans evidence of the derisive stereotypes that accompany the lived experience. As her narrative traverses the century, we encounter "Rosie the Riveter," the desperate women of the 1950s, the liberated witches of the second wave of feminism, and, finally, their disillusioned daughters. Although her bibliography is impressive, this popular history lacks specific citations, and some of her generalizations are misleading. More important, most of the women she discusses are not single so much as not yet married; she says little about the mature single woman, the divorcee, the widow, or the women who cohabit without marriage and virtually nothing about black women, who are more likely to live unmarried throughout adulthood. Still, libraries might consider. Morrow plans a major marketing campaign, and urban public libraries will likely experience a demand.
Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have never read such a worthwhile book on single women. There are so many other books that claim to cover it all about single life, but I have never found one that takes in the whole picture--how single life developed in the US, going back a century, and how our attitudes and negative views of single women were forged over time. This is a media history. It's women's history. It's a story of how popular images have infected our ability to see single women with any honesty. Organized according to icons and "media archetypes" it's also a fun and fascinating read.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nancy E. Turner VINE VOICE on January 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
I bought this book specifically because of the historical aspect of young women in the early 1900's, and found it immensely helpful as well as very well written. I have to admit I haven't read through to the end, because the novel I'm writing deals with women in that era. I found Bachelor Girl to be exactly what I wanted as a reference as well as engaging to read. I wish more writers would take upon themselves the task of presenting history in this story-telling style. Highly Recommended.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sara on December 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
"Bachelor Girl" is an exhaustive history of single women beginning in the mid-19th century to present day (although the author spends a lot more time on the first half of the 20th century). I had no idea the lives of single women back then were so interesting. Betsy Israel discusses their jobs/careers, how they lived, and how they affected American culture. The title, though, is a bit misleading--the bulk of the book deals with how the media and society viewed single women through the ages, not on their "secret lives." My only complaint about the book was the last chapter about the modern single woman. As a single woman a few years out of college, I didn't relate at all to anything she discussed. Especially the section on "baby brides" where she describes girls fresh out of college getting married. Who is she talking about?? None of my friends from college (male or female) are engaged or married, or close to it. As far as I know, marriage among recent college grads is a rarity. She fails to point out that people from certain groups tend to get married younger than average (i.e., people in the military, deeply religious people, people from certain ethnic groups). I think she glossed over things too much in the last section. She also kind of has the consensus that singles have an "uncomfortable place in society." Huh?? As a single, I just don't see it.
But I did agree with the message she gave at the end, that everyone, whether they choose to get married or not, should make their own decisions, and the media should stop bothering them about it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
Betsy Israel has an approach that is very readable and not at all male-bashing (she happens to be married). In a few chapters, she even honorably mentions a few males that have furthered the causes for women. If anything, most of the plights that women have been through is because of poor laws that were constructed to restrict them to one way of life. I also love how she portrays the many different single women that have struggled valiantly to bring us to where we are today. She also covers each decade's progress and setbacks all the way up to modern day.
I would recommend this book for all women to read - especially non-married women. After reading this book, you'll most likely feel relieved that you are in fact... a bachelor girl.
Janelle
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "minuet1965" on November 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
...an interesting historical perspective on what it means to be single from beyond the turn of the century to present times.
I wouldn't call this a "self help" book but more for someone who wants to know what it was like to be single way back when and to see if our values and image of single women has changed....
or hasn't it?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Danielle West on July 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Fascinating read for single & married women alike. Enjoyable, insightful and fascinating. Great pace and full of food for thought without the the anger or bitterness.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Sammis on September 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed her analysis of the cultural icons of the various decades. Her screenwriting background shows in her delightful analysis of a variety of films from the silent era all the way up through the recent television sitcoms. I think her final chapter is the weakest, but it's hard to analyize something while living in the middle of it.

I stayed up until one in the morning to finish the book which is a testiment to how well written it is.
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