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Insecure at Last: Losing It in Our Security-Obsessed World Hardcover – October 3, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. I am worried about this word, this notion—security," writes the renowned author of The Vagina Monologues at the beginning of this extraordinarily compelling, if somewhat scattered, memoir; "Why has all of this focus on security made me feel so much more insecure?" Ensler recounts her attempts to make sense of a war-ridden world in which "security" becomes both unimaginable and dangerous. Weaving together personal history (about her childhood relationship with her father, who would choke her in drunken rages and not remember the next morning), with a panoply of violent political scenarios around the world: the Serbs' use of rape to subdue Muslims in Bosnia; the public execution of women in an Afghan stadium; the unsolved brutal murders of more than 370 women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Ensler aims to explicate the moments when we, often unwittingly, implicate ourselves in this violence through our need for an illusory "security." She has a vivid, startling style that is both direct and poetic, and she is able to make chilling connections—she writes that the dust that covered New York on 9/11 was the dust that she had seen "in Kabul, in Bosnia, in Kosovo." This is an important work by a major American writer. (Oct. 3)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Ensler, most famous for The Vagina Monologues (1998), has audaciously confronted misogyny and violence against women not only as a playwright and a performer but also as the founder of V-Day, an international philanthropic organization. Ensler now proves to be as galvanizing an oral historian and essayist as she is a dramatist in this forthright inquiry into our obsession with security both personal and national. Forging a potent brew of candid memoir and hard-hitting reportage, she considers the harsh reality that security is nothing more than an illusion, and that, perversely, the pursuit of security actually increases threats against our well-being. Ensler discovered the myth of security as a girl, when she endured horrific abuse from her alcoholic father within the precincts of a seemingly safe middle-class home. She has subsequently sought out sister survivors, and recounts with lucidity, empathy, and respect her conversations with Bosnian rape victims, Afghani women tyrannized by the Taliban, women prisoners, and mothers of some of the hundreds of young women killed in Cuidad Juarez, the hellish factory zone south of El Paso. Keenly aware of how catastrophes undermine our sense of security, Ensler also writes incisively about 9/11 and the aftermath of Katrina. Through carefully listening and clarion analysis, Ensler reaches the conclusion that grasping for security isolates us and denies opportunities for dialogue, hope, and change. We're told that war is necessary to ensure security, Ensler muses, "when really it is kindness we are after." Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; First Edition edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400063345
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400063345
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eve Ensler is a Tony award winning playwright, performer and activist. She is the author of international phenomenon, The Vagina Monologues, which won an Obie and has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Eve wrote the New York Times Bestseller, I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World. She then adapted it as a play which ran to critical acclaim in South Africa, Paris, Berkeley and Off-Broadway. She is the founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised over 100 million dollars for grassroots organizations around the world. On V-Day's 15th Anniversary, it launched it's most ambitious campaign One Billion Rising which inspired one billion people in 207 countries to Strike Dance and Rise on Feb 14, 2013 for the freedom, safety and equality of women. With the women of Congo, V-Day opened and supports City of Joy in Bukavu, Congo, a revolutionary center where survivors of gender violence Turn Their Pain to Power. Eve starred in the HBO version of The Vagina Monologues. Her play Here was filmed live by Sky Television in London, UK. She co-produced the documentary What I Want My Words to You which won the Freedom of Expression Award at Sundance. Her other plays include Necessary Targets, The Treatment and The Good Body, which she performed on Broadway, followed by a national tour. In 2006, Eve released her book, Insecure At Last: A Political Memoir, and co-edited A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and a Prayer. Her newest book In The Body of the World will be published by Holt. Ensler lives in the world.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By a reader on October 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the most honest, open and at the same time powerfully revolutionary book I have ever read. Not only because of the masterful truth-telling that leaps from its pages, but also because of the unique weave of Ensler's deeply personal story with her experiences from around the world. It is a moving convergence of emotional nakedness, fierce and factual reportage and the pure wonder of witnessing the miracles created by those who have learned, as Eve says, "to find freedom, aliveness, and power not from what contains, locates, or protects us but from what dissolves, reveals, and expands us." This book is one of those miracles.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By RealGrrl on May 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Even though I don't feel like reviewing much these days, I knew I had to write about this book I just finished. It's a political memoir by Eve Ensler, most famous for her play `The Vagina Monologues'. It deals with her travels to war torn countries visiting women who have been raped, had their families murdered, & for some, living under fundamentalist rule. Basically, all the women have unstable, insecure futures. They don't know what will happen next to them, but a strong few are rising up to challenge the status-quo.

Throughout the book Ensler speaks of her own need for security & reveals her troubled childhood with an abusive father & submissive mother who always seemed to be there, but never offered aid. She speaks in a somewhat rushed tone about how Americans seek out security, how 9/11 disrupted that, & goes on a rant about how the wars in Afghanistan & Iraq were unnecessary. I'll agree with her on many points, because cultural problems/conflicts can rarely be solved with arms (see Vietnam for example). I'll also agree about how Americans as a whole search for security & have been blinded by the government into a singular way of thinking about how we can achieve it.

What I didn't understand was her approach to how we can address the problems in the world. For example, she visits Afghanistan while it was under Taliban rule & mentions how women are treated poorly, even beaten, raped, & murdered. I wonder, in her mind, what would have been the proper approach to removing the Taliban if invading with a military was wrong.

Overall, I was touched by the personal stories she shared & how she allowed to feel for the women, rather than maintaining a more distant, icy approach to the crimes against them. But I would have liked to hear her solutions or proposals to what should have been the proper response to 9/11 & how we in the West can better serve the interests of the third world & the oppressed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer J. Timmons on September 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
Eve Ensler bares her soul in this book. Weaving her personal history and thoughts about her abusive father along with interviews with women from around the world who have been violated, you get a sense of the magnitude of the problem of violence against women around the globe. Her writing is so vivid that you feel like you are there with her or with the women she has interviewed with respect and compassion. It is difficult not to be affected: you can almost see their pain, fear, rage, and hope.

She explores the subject of security, via her reporting of the women whose stories you read, who have been violated, either individually or their loved ones. From Bosnia to Pakistan to Mexico to our own US prisons, Ensler brings you into the lives of women who've been violated, often with little or no safety net. She also shares the stories of Hurricane Katrina survivors, as well as activist Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in the Iraq War. All are equally compelling stories, combined with Ensler's own thoughts on her relationship with her father and the notion of security. Or insecurity.

Like The Vagina Monologues, this book has ignited my indignation at the ongoing problem of violence against women. Thanks to Ensler, TVM and V-Day have awakened the world to stop the violence. She has inspired many activists and activists-to-be, such as myself, to bring about change in small and big ways. Her work is for everyone who respects and values the women in her/his life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dan E. Nicholas on June 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Insecure. She's 52 before she finds lasting comfort in letting go, being OK with being insecure. She takes loss in equal parts, as much opening as wound. But before she gets to that place, well...there's a lot of interviews with women. And a lot of rage and intensity that has always been with her.

I stopped cold at the last page of Ensler's book, a chapter that most writers put in the beginning: acknowledgements. One week before father's day I finished this book and I here's what I found on the last page: "To my father, Arthur, who broke me...open." This theme is a two edged bookend from page one.

Well, you're not going to want to be certain about dating this lady when you finish her book. She's driven. She's got angst and ennui for skin and fire for blood. She's a globe hopping sponge for pain. Mostly women's pain. But at least one memorable man--perhaps two if you count her dad--appear along the way. I got the feeling that the author's own unique therapy is reading the paper each week looking for a global tragedy to fly to so she can interview a wounded feminine soul face to face, tour in a Jeep and smell the burned and rotten flesh of loss, listen to the broken, suck up the sorrow and any meaning behind it as a reason to keep going.

She's an interviewer and a playwright story teller. This time she takes us beyond the down there and even shows us some of her soul privates, wellheads of grief. Most of them are around her father.

She interviews women. We know this from her monologues. I saw her give her last performance of V-M in SF years ago. As a reporter and performer, she brought me to tears back then. I took three women friends with me to see her V-M play when it first came to town and the local University hosted the event.
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