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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2006
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I wanted this book for years because it was right up my alley-- I'd loved both the "Material World" books and "Hungry Planet" and anything full of photos that relates to cultural anthropology. I bought it used from an Amazon seller, and definitely enjoyed it. However, I have to say, I ended up glad I didn't pay $23 for it (the Amazon list price for a new copy). It's smaller than the other culture/photo books I own, and less meaty in terms of content. A lot of the photo portraits have quotes superimposed on them that detract from the images, to me. For example, there is a portrait of a Japanese bride sitting in a small room, being viewed by the villagers through a window, with the quote, "A pedestal is as much a prison as any small, confined space. -- Gloria Steinem." So unlike Annie Leibovitz's "Women," in which the photos are presented without comment, in this book many of the photos are literally stamped with someone else's views on the politics of gender. Coming from National Geographic, that surprised me. It also made me wonder how thoughtfully the quotes were chosen when they actually include the anonymous quote, "Chance made us sisters, hearts made us friends." That's the sort of thing you stamp on a magnet in Girl Scouts.

On the upside, though, there are many unique images in this book-- lots of photos that create insights into other cultures, which you would otherwise never see. To me, the book is worth owning just for those gorgeous and interesting photos. If you're looking for depth of content about "rituals of womanhood," however, you may want to look elsewhere. The text glosses over the subject, covering rituals that sound fascinating in two or three sentences, then moving on. Basically it's a long general essay. There's more depth to "Women in the Material World" by d'Aluisio, and less judgment in "Women" by Leibovitz. But if you're a fan of this type of book, this one makes for good general reading.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Yes, the cover photo is striking, and I was drawn to this book both for the anticipated arresting images and as a good read and springboard for discussion between my daughter and me.
I read this book in its entirely. Of course, while it is tempting to concentrate on the photos and skim the text, it is very important to note that the pictures can only be partly understood without the accompanying prose.
As a long-time supporter of The National Geographic Society, I am sad to admit that I was disappointed. I found it surprising that National Geographic published this book with at least three major problems. First, the text was not well written and needed more editing. Second, when I tried to look up two subjects in the index, the pages listed for those topics were incorrect.
Finally - and for me this was the most egregious error - although the authors were quite unflinching in their criticism of the cruelty inherent in certain culturally sanctioned practices such as bride burnings in India and the murder of little girls in China, of genital mutilation as practiced in Africa and parts of Southwest Asia, we discover hardly the slightest protest, except to note that "clitoridectomy" is "controversial to many people" outside one particular culture mentioned that practices it (p. 32). The only other reference is an elegant chiaroscuro photograph which depicts "a newly circumcised bride rest(ing) with a friend." Apparently, the murder of brides and female infanticide are one thing, but the authors don't want to appear culturally insensitive when it comes to the removal of young girls' genitals.
The question goes unanswered: How is the slicing away of a child's clitoris (and it is almost always a child, who by definition has no choice in the matter), which often also involves the removal of the inner and sometimes outer labia, and the nearly complete sewing together of the entire vaginal opening -- frequently under questionable hygienic conditions and without anesthesia, which causes excruciating pain and often leads to severe infection and in some cases permanent disability and even death -- off limits to criticism? This is passing strange, and National Geographic certainly has some explaining to do.
This has all the hallmarks of a "rush job." If you want to own this book, I would definitely wait for the next edition -- if there is one.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2006
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I bought this book as a gift for my new daughter-in-law so I didn't read the whole book before sending if off for Christmas. But, I did look through it and thought it was beautifully arranged and very thoughtfully conceived. It certainly reflected the many ways women are connected throughout this world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book, put out by the National Geographic Society, has some great photos of various rituals women participate in across different cultures, ranging from birthing to marriage to mourning at funerals. The range of emotions captured is vast and vivid and the photos themselves make it a worthwhile read. In fact, comparing to the photos, I thought the text part of the book was weak. Not even so much the content but more its organization, lack thereof. It made for a choppy read and I felt it didn't really relate to the photos as well it could have
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
While I agree with another reviewer on the captions to some photos, I must admit the text itself and the images are quite beautiful. I really do like this book, and I shared it with my mother, she very much appreciated this book as well.
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on January 9, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book is precious, I lost my mother 7 years ago, the book made me cry (good cry).

I gave it as a present to my Father's wife, she has a grown daughter from previous marriage.

I am going to re buy the title for myself to keep and cherish. Thank You. Beautiful concept and beautiful book.

carla

carjo.123@sbcglobal.net
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is more of a pretty anthropological book than an essay on the power or inner meaning of world rituals of womanhood.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
what a wonderful book for women of all ages...crosses all ethnic lines. I bought one for my graneddaughter as well...this was really one of the better dealings I have had with an independent dealer...I was very pleased with their fast response and over and above service. I look forward to doing business with them again.
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0 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The covers were shop worn and some of the pages were bent, worn and creased where people had flipped through the pages...they were supposed to be gifts....completely unaacceptable - had to buy substitutes.
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