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Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa Paperback – October 10, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 10, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375724486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375724480
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Full of fascinating cases, from medieval saints and Victorian spiritualists to contemporary college students and media celebrities."--Alison Lurie

"Brilliant--. A masterful blend of history and contemporary issues."--Journal of Social History

From the Inside Flap

Winner of four major awards, this updated edition of Joan Jacobs Brumberg's Fasting Girls, presents a history of women's food-refusal dating back as far as the sixteenth century. Here is a tableau of female self-denial: medieval martyrs who used starvation to demonstrate religious devotion, "wonders of science" whose families capitalized on their ability to survive on flower petals and air, silent screen stars whose strict "slimming" regimens inspired a generation. Here, too, is a fascinating look at how the cultural ramifications of the Industrial Revolution produced a disorder that continues to render privileged young women helpless. Incisive, compassionate, illuminating, Fasting Girls offers real understanding to victims and their families, clinicians, and all women who are interested in the origins and future of this complex, modern and characteristically female disease.

More About the Author

Joan Jacobs Brumberg is the author of "Fasting Girls: The History of Anorexia Nervosa" which won the Berkshire Prize in history and the John Hope Franklin Prize in American Studies, among other awards. "The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls" which won the Choice Award from the American Library Association and "Kansas Charley" the true story of Charles Miller, a seventeen-year-old orphan who was hanged in Wyoming in 1892 for a horrific double murder committed when he was only fifteen. Joan Jacobs Brumberg is Professor Emerita at Cornell Univesity and she lectures widely on all of her books and the social issues they cover. She is represented by Jodi Solomon Agency in Boston. You can also visit TheBodyProject.com for more information.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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There is a great deal of fascinating information.
Amie Staley
This outstanding book is a must read for anyone going into psychology, neuroscience, working with adolescents, education, public health, etc.
K. L Sadler
Overall, I found this to be a fascinating book, and I learned a great deal from reading it.
Jennifer May, Ph.D.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By K. L Sadler VINE VOICE on May 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
I've become an avid reader of medical history. When in medical school for my degree in neuroscience, my favorite class was one that dealt with the neurological basis of psychiatric disorders. The professor had MDs come in with a patient with a particular problem (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, anorexia) and we would have the opportunity to listen to them tell their own story and their frustrations with their illness.
When they brought in a girl who was probably 5'8" and weight 78 pounds, it was fascinating to see the guys in the class who were normally very vocal and aggressive, totally shut up! From behind she looked like someone from a Nazi concentration camp, yet she continued to consider herself 'fat'. When she left, the MD had the nerve to turn around and tell the boys, that basically...anorexia was the fault of men. All of us were stunned. He put up an obviously much used power point slide showing the weights of women in both Playboy magazines and in the Miss USA pageant from the beginning to that year (1997). The line was steep and steady from the upper left-hand corner of the slide to the bottom right corner of the slide. This was the change in weight of the women who were participating in these 'endeavors' that the MD said were run by men (it was a male MD). Then he went further and said...most women's magazines are still mainly male bastions, as is the fashion industry both here and in Europe. The men in the class were absolutely horrified (and the women were thrilled that someone had the nerve to say this to them!)
This outstanding book is a must read for anyone going into psychology, neuroscience, working with adolescents, education, public health, etc. I've read few books with such deep understanding as to the history and ramifications of social mores on young women and girls.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Amie Staley on May 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was totally absorbing. I didn't want to put it down. Who would have thought that such a terrible disease would have its origin in the Medievel church, as women starved themselves for their beliefs and to become (as they believed) holy. But, like most things under the sun, it's all been done before, so there really shouldn't be any surprise that self-starvation has a very long history.
I really enjoyed the histories of the individual "fasting girls." And Ms. Brumberg's description of the Victorian middle class was priceless and eye opening, considering how that era is so romantizied by a lot of us today.
The book revealed so much about how culture (present and past) shapes our opinions of ourselves, especially us women. Reading the book brought out my anger that society and culture expect women to have "perfect" bodies..."perfect" everything, and the pressure that is on us, both as teenagers and adults.
I recommend this book to anyone who would like to know more about anorexia nervosa and its history. There is a great deal of fascinating information. Just keep your dictionary handy to look up all the medical terms Brumberg quotes (and for some of her own words as well). My only disappointment in the book was that it ended too abruptly. Her book had me hooked, and then, finally, it had to end. I think there is a great deal more to be said about this disease, and I hope that she keeps up with the history and maybe writes another volume. Kudos to you, Ms. Brumberg. Very well done.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "bookville" on January 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
An extremely well researched and well written book, it examines the history of Anorexia Nervosa. During medieval period, a woman's fasting was seen as evidence of her deep faith. This perception, which continued to the Victorian era, placed tremendous pressure on women to be abstemious. Many women died of self starvation throughout centuries. A byproduct of this view was forced fasting by the families of some women who received special attention and financial consideration from society due to the fact that a woman in their family was pious enough not to eat. Containing excellent illustrations, including that of a woman who died when her weight dropped to 49 pounds, this book helps the reader in comprehending the enormity of Anorexia Nervosa. It is a must reading for anyone who wishes to know more about a disorder that until recently was mistaken for virtue.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Eileen G. on May 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating survey of anorexia nervosa, and must reading for anyone interested in the history and "whys" of voluntary food refusal. It's not self-help or pop psychology, but rather, scholarship. Using obscure and fascinating source materials, case histories,and numerous contemporary accounts, Brumberg (one author, despite Amazon's mistaken listing) presents the reader with the history of anorexia nervosa: its roots in changing but always powerful popular notions of female attractiveness; religion; psychology; social relations, and class.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rach on March 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
The obvious strength of this book as a history of the development of Anorexia Nervosa comes from its unbiased approach. As a historian, the author has walked brilliantly the fine line between simply retelling the past and critically evaluating it. (Sometimes stupid ideas need to be called stupid ideas!) It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in eating disorders or nutrition.

The subtle strength of this book is its format for discussing disease development in a social and political context. Anyone interested in disease etiology beyond simply the biochemical approach should also read this book, as a guide to how to put disease in a realistic context.

Brilliant all round!
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