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Taking the Hard Road: Life Course in French and German Workers' Autobiographies in the Era of Industrialization Paperback – May 22, 1995

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This book contributes in original ways to working-class and gender history.

"American Historical Review"

Provocative and important. Maynes adds a new and timely dimension to working-class historiography.

"Journal of Social History"

""Taking the Hard Road" opens up a comparative dimension that proves richly rewarding.

Mark Traugott, University of California, Santa Cruz"

A key text for research on the French and German proletarian autobiography from the late eighteenth to . . . early twentieth century.

"German Notes and Reviews"

"Taking the Hard Road" opens up a comparative dimension that proves richly rewarding.

Mark Traugott, University of California, Santa Cruz

Review

Illustrates the tremendous significance of private life for the development of public political identities without essentializing experience, illuminates the enormous complexity of the category 'class,' and demonstrates the importance of both structure and agency in the story of class formation.--Journal of Modern History



Maynes's book, based on an exceptionally broad selection of French and German sources, is a precious addition to our knowledge of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century life as revealed through the direct testimony of working men and women. Especially on issues of childhood socialization, class formation, and lifecourse development, Taking the Hard Road opens up a comparative dimension that proves richly rewarding.--Mark Traugott, University of California, Santa Cruz



Maynes not only regales us with stories from these invaluable autobiographies, but she also provides a clear and nuanced analysis of their content, evaluating similarities and differences in the recorded life experiences according to gender, age, geography, chronology, and cultural milieu. This book contributes in original ways to working-class and gender history. . . . Historians owe a debt to Maynes for bringing to us the hard-to-find words of working-class men and women, interpreting them, and allowing us to understand better one segment of the working-class experience.--American Historical Review



Provocative and important. Maynes adds a new and timely dimension to working-class historiography." --Journal of Social History



A key text for research on the French and German proletarian autobiography from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century."German Notes and Reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1st New edition edition (May 22, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807844977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807844977
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,297,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The experiences of working class men and women are a crucial part of the historiography of the Industrial Age. Industrialization brought rapid change to the continent of Europe, and forever altered both the way that people lived, and the way in which they viewed themselves. To explain this, author Mary Jo Maynes has collected and analyzed dozens of memoirs and autobiographies of French and German workers spanning from the 18th to the early 20th century. As Maynes describes, the autobiography was a relatively new concept at this time, brought about by the Enlightenment principles which emphasized individual personalities. The accounts are widely varied, but there are certain recurring themes which persist throughout. Such hardships as child labor, parental death or abandonment, and social alienation were common to most accounts. Harsh discipline, both at home and at school also left its mark on many of the authors. Of course, this is not to mention the excruciating work regimen that most workers had to endure. Many of the accounts were written by socialist militants (or those would later become such) and reflect a justification for their adoption of these radical views. "Their accounts simultaneously recorded and contributed to the construction of class identities." Maynes analyzes the differences in experience not only between French and Germans, but also between men and women, both often being significant. All in all, this is a very informative work which gives great insight into the lives of the working class of the Industrial Age.
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