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Bella Abzug: How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Pissed Off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and ... Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way Hardcover – November 27, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"This is like being a fly on the wall for some of the most important moments in political history over the past fifty years. Being a part of this conversation makes you not just appreciate Bella's fierceness, but want to emulate it. "                       —MANIFESTA co-author and former Bella colleague, Amy Richards

"Bella was a radical, patriotic and passionate about transforming the system—with the courage to work from outside and the patience to work from inside. Like her life, this book radiates drama, humor, tactical brilliance-- and heart. Bella mattered. So does this book."   —Jane Fonda

"The authors have captured one of the most principled, vibrant figures of the twentieth century in this equally unique oral history. It seems fitting that an inimitable and influential maverick such as Bella Abzug would find her life recounted in a book brave enough to include the voices of family, friends, and foes."—Ashley Judd

"Stumped about what to do in this messed up world? Just get to know Bella Abzug, one of the most important activists of the twentieth century. By gathering the reminiscences of people who lived their personal and political lives right along with her—and sometimes had the courage to break the rules alongside her too—the authors have created a memoir in many voices that captures the suspense, humor, and contradictions of this great woman. Read this book and then ask yourself, What would Bella do?"—Gloria Steinem

"Bella Abzug didn't vet her opinions through consultants and polls. She wasn't a highly orchestrated pre-fab candidate sprung from a well-oiled multi-million dollar corporate machine. She was the real deal. Pro peace, pro worker, pro women. Angry, authentic, grassroots, alienating and alive. And, she actually got elected. This book is a call to all of us, but particularly those in government to run and lead through their own moral steam rather than blowing more hot air.  —Eve Ensler

"Bella Abzug is an important, inspiring piece of history. There's nothing we need more right now that this kind of cogent reminder of what it takes to make change in the halls of power—and what's at stake if we don't.  —Lisa Jervis, co-founder Bitch magazine

About the Author

Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom are both nationally recognized authorities on women’s issues. Most recently, Levine is the author of Inventing the Rest of Lives and Thom is the author of Inside Ms.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st Edition 1st Printing edition (November 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374299528
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374299521
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,679,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on December 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is my first Amazon review. I felt I had to write a review for this wonderful book. On one hand, this is an inspiring account of the passion and vigor that catalyzed the civil rights and feminist movements in this country (in stark contrast to much of the hollow rhetoric these days). On the other, it is an entertaining and poignant portrayal of an incredibly complicated character in American history. The form of the book, something of a round table discussion between Abzug and those who knew her, helps the reader to get a sort of 360 degree history with multiple views of single events. It is a finely wrought and powerful portrayal of Abzug and of the history of our country. I hope particularly that young women (and men) will read it and be inspired.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Satia Renee VINE VOICE on April 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
Bella Abzug: How One Tough Brod from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow, Pissed Off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and Workers, Rallied Against War and for the Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way an oral history by Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom is a book about a political dynamo who fought for changes that we see everywhere but did not realize were the result of her often strident voice. For instance, did you know that the way curbsides are dipped down for easier wheelchair access is the result of legislation she pushed through Congress? And that she was the first to demand President Nixon be impeached? Known for her flamboyant hats and her very big personality, Bella Abzug is one of those leaders who simply would not be ignored. She also would not back down and some of her positions created rifts within her own demographic so while she fought for Civil Rights for homosexuals, some feminists and minorities were offended and didn't agree with that gays and lesbians should be included.

I know a lot of people outside of New York probably haven't heard of Bella Abzug. I grew up in her district, her face iconic in my childhood, and I distinctly recall stuffing envelopes for her in a storefront campaign office in the village. No, I never met her but it seemed very mature and necessary for me, an eight-year-old child, to be sitting side-by-side with adults, doing something that really mattered.

Of course, I had no political awareness and couldn't have told you a thing about Abzug's politics. I could assume she was against the Vietnam War because, as far as I knew, everyone knew that war, particularly that war, was wrong and we needed to bring our boys home. And she was a woman so I probably surmised she was a feminist.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on December 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
It's an inspiring, but ultimately dynamic true-to-life account--of how one woman really did make a difference in this world. Accomplishing this difference pre-internet era and before 'packaged candidate' times is what keeps the reader perpetually hooked.

An outsider in every sense of the term starting from her childhood, Bella Savitsky Abzug crusaded for her causes merely because it was the right thing to do. She was not expecting fame or fortune to come from this work, she saw injustice and wanted to correct it.

After admittance to the bar, she went down south to defend African Americans, motivated by that sense of fairness rather than money.

This work and other even caught the eye of Richard M. Nixon, placing her on his infamous 'enemies list', something which she undoubtedly took as an honor. Her being noticed by the system meant that the cages were being rattled and they knew their time was up. The only machine which she was a member of was her own. Throughout each battle, her devoted husband Martin was proud to have supported her, not at all ashamed to 'Bella's husband'.

One can only imagine what the outlets attacking Hillary for being a 'nutcracker' would have said about Bella. She too enjoyed being a wife and a mother. But she also transgresed established gender norms at seemingly every turn. Even when elected to public office, she did not quietly fall in line with what the rest of the Party electorate expected her to go along with.

It's definently a holiday gift item to inspire the women in our lives. But guys also wanting a solid example of what quality community organizing actually is need to get this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book had an interesting concept. Instead of a narrative outlining the subject's life, the author interwove interviews from people that knew the subject. Included were interviews from relatives, friends, enemies and the subject herself. Different timelines were given with interviews relevant to the time period and subject matter. It is worth a read particularly if you remember Bella Abzug.
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