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Intimate Politics: How I Grew Up Red, Fought for Free Speech, and Became a Feminist Rebel Paperback – Bargain Price, September 26, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 549 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press; 1 edition (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158005160X
  • ASIN: B005SNJ3BG
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,739,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Now professor of feminist studies at UC–Santa Cruz, Aptheker was an activist participant in some of the major events of the '60s and '70s—the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, the antiwar movement and the Angela Davis trial. As the daughter of U.S. Communist Party leader Herbert Aptheker, she was virtually a red-diaper princess, only to "fall from grace" with the party in her late 20s. Her highly politicized New York City upbringing was one of middle class comfort, although sorely affected by McCarthyist persecution—as well as sexual abuse by her father, deeply repressed memories of which she uncovered in adulthood. The author, who taught her first women's studies course in 1977, describes herself as a latecomer to the women's movement (the Communist Party considered it "petit bourgeois "). A personal transformation paralleled the political, as her repressed lesbianism also surfaced and gradually culminated in a fulfilling long-term relationship. Though pedestrian prose and prolix detail obscure what ought to be a compelling account of events with powerful social as well as personal meaning, Aptheker's memoir (after Tapestries of Life) is a significant document for students and historians of feminism, communism and the '60s. (Nov.)
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Review

"An awful and amazing story, reading like something in Doctorow's Ragtime. . . iron[ic] . . . it comes out [with the Representative] Foley revelations." -- Jesse Lemisch, History News Network

"I could not put this book down. What a story! It is enlightening and enriching. " -- Tom Hayden, author of The Lost Gospel of the Earth, The Port Huron Statement, and Street Wars

"Part of the history of American radicalism . . . painfully honest, often shocking . . . you'll be riveted." -- Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

"Stunning . . . remarkable . . . shattering. . . . Bettina Aptheker is a powerful witness." -- The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 6, 2006

"This memoir is a revelation and an inspiration. . . a deeply forgiving work." -- Margot Adler, NPR correspondent and author of Heretic's Heart and Drawing Down the Moon

Customer Reviews

As much as I disagree with Bettina's politics, I enjoyed reliving her era - for it is mine as well.
Hugh Murray
As you read more you become wrapped up in the 1960's, communist politics, and the Angela Davis trial the way Bettina experienced it.
Carolyn Marie
It is a great personal and political memoir, and captures the feeling of the transitions women were going through.
S. Webber

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Wild Reader 1 on November 20, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are two distinct and fascinating stories interwoven here.

Ms. Aptheker was part of the inner circle wherever boomers spontaneously manned the barricades for social change. She gives us a meticulous (perhaps too meticulous) first-hand account of the people she knew and the events she lived during the free-speech, civil rights, anti-war, and feminist revolutions. Hence, the word 'politics' in the title.

Then she tells another, much more interesting story. The 'intimate' passages introduce us to a very, very bright, traumatized young girl, one who is eager to please and desperate to fit in. So she steps out bravely -- her courage is astounding (especially her courage to change course in pursuit of integrity)-- but every bold action she takes also exposes her to very real dangers from the powers-that-be. A more sensible person might have withdrawn and conformed, but Ms. Aptheker staggers defiantly on. This is a story about secrets, injuries, shame, stubbornness, self-destruction, self-discovery, healing, and the courage to keep following your star, despite it all.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Marie on November 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a student as UCSC and interested in the feminist studies department I was well aqquainted with Bettina's name before I picked up her book. I ended up purchasing this book and attending a reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz and the already interesting book became even better. The memoir is difficult to read at first because of the heartwrenching sexual abuse that occurs in the first section. As you read more you become wrapped up in the 1960's, communist politics, and the Angela Davis trial the way Bettina experienced it. You can almost hear Bettina reading the memoir to you. Despite it's sometimes difficult subject matter there is also a lot of humor in the book and you do find yourself often giggling. Ultimately this memoir is very moving and would be of interest to anyone interested in a personal narrative of activist politics of the 1960's, major communist leaders in America, a women's discovery of the feminist movement, and an all around intriguing memoir.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Elise Moss on January 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
I was one of Bettina's students when she taught at SJSU thirty years ago. Her classes were always packed. She is an amazing lecturer and scholar. She had a tremendous impact on all of her young students.

Even thirty years later, I am impressed by her will, determination, and her sense of self. I read an excerpt of this book published in a local news magazine, but even before I read the excerpt I knew I would buy her book.

Most individuals at some point in their lives reflect on their childhood and how it formed who they are today. Bettina's book does this and more...she examines why she makes the choices she did in a manner that is honest. She does not go for the "easy out", but then she never did.

Her lessons and her ability to bear witness to her own life can easily be internalized and applied to your own experiences. You don't have to agree with her politics...you just have to recognize her unique humanity and in doing that you will grow yourself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Once in a while I'll take a gamble on a book and what I'll end up reading won't be nearly as profound as what I had first expected, therefore by spacing out my reading sessions (understatement) I was able to read this book from beginning to end. First of all, I would like to mention the Author's soothing writing style, which for me made this book a sincere pleasure to read and made the book's seven long chapters less tedious as they could have felt. Second, while this memior has plenty of personel elements to it, I feel that there are too many parts that I as the reader had trouble connecting to the Author's life directly, diliuting what I feel should've been the main thrust of this book the Author's life. Furthermore, the book left me feeling both too angry and too vulnerable, can't really explain why, perhaps it was something I'll call a negative slow burn. Lastly, luckily this book had a solid ending pulling together most of what was written in the heart of the book and there you go... to Brooklyn to Berkeley and too Beyond the beaten path.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hugh Murray on September 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a provocative and honest autobiography. Reading it closely, however, one can observe how ideology still shapes Bettina's view of reality, distorting it to fit her leftist and feminist structure.
When her book was first published in 2006, the media focused on her assertion that her father, Herbert Aptheker, for decades described as "the leading theoretician of the Communist Party, USA," had sexually abused his daughter, Bettina, from age 3 to age 13. Toward the end of her book, Bettina discussed this "nightmare" of abuse with her female lover, Kate, who like Bettina is also a feminist. Upon hearing of some of Herbert's reactions to these charges, Kate suggested that Herbert might have been molested as a child himself. Bettina then writes, "I knew that my father had had an older brother named Alvin. He and my father had been very close and they shared a room together as boys. Alvin had committed suicide" when he was 28 and Herbert 20.(p. 513)
I have no knowledge of Alvin or why he committed suicide at age 28. But neither does Bettina. And because some victims of child abuse later abuse children themselves is no reason to presume that Alvin molested Herbert - which she insinuates. I submit that Bettina smears and convicts Alvin because of her ideology, not because of any verifiable facts. Ironically, her family was a fierce opponent of "McCarthyism," yet here we see her practicing a version of it more damaging than any conducted by the Wisconsin Senator.
This paragraph's meanness belies the declared aims of her autobiography: "..., I made the decision that I would write about particular individuals only from my direct experience with them, so that I would not engage in rumor or hearsay.
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