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The Girl I Left Behind: A Narrative History of the Sixties Hardcover – June 3, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006117601X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061176012
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,228,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Nies, author and activist, offers a refreshingly candid look at her own life as a product of the 1960s and 1970s. After completing graduate school overseas in international affairs, Nies returns to the U.S. in 1966 to race riots and the burgeoning antiwar movement. She marries a Treasury Department employee, then lands “the most interesting job in Washington,” working as an aide to a group of 10 liberal congressmen. Against the familiar backdrop of assassinations, the Chicago Democratic Convention riots in 1968, and the invasion of Cambodia and the Kent State shootings in 1970, Nies outlines her own hostile work environment during those years. After writing an article on the “institutionalized sexism prevailing on Capitol Hill,” she lands a new job working for a congressman’s wife. At the same time, her own marriage is disintegrating due to the chasm between her activism and her husband’s administration job. Nothing really new here, but Nies’ personal take on the ripple effects of the women’s movement—both on those involved directly and those who followed—is honest and engaging. --Deborah Donovan

Review

“An important book. I know of no book like it.” (Jill Ker Conway)

“Nies’ combination period history and memoir is a highly valuable first-person record of a woman who finds herself, and the movement she grew with.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Refreshingly candid. . . . Nies’ personal take on the ripple effects of the women’s movement—both on those involved directly and those who followed—is honest and engaging.” (Booklist)

“Educational and entertaining.” (Kirkus Reviews)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
Nies is obviously a distinguished researcher and an excellent writer.
Flaggal
Judith Nies has written about the women's movement and Washington politics as both an insider and a very astute observer.
Love Words
I just learned about this book from C-SPAN2 presentation and I have ordered the book.
Carol Grosser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C. Donaher on September 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I just finished this book and am dazzled by the author's ability to recall and reconstruct her life and the(to the less integrative eye) disparate up-ending events of the 1960's. So much was totally familiar to me(I'm that cohort) and at the same time I had no roadmap for making any sense of it until she generously produced this extraordinary work. It must have been a tumultuous emotional journey for her to revisit all those relationships, encounters and powerful feelings-- she did(we all did --and still do) absorb a lot of disrespect and indignities--but I do think that we can also take some credit for the substantial progress that's been made by women over the past 30 years. There's so much more to say-- her writing is lucid- --- a pleasure to read; she certainly has a strong identifiable voice - --
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gina Ogden on July 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
[[ASIN:1590303644 The Return of Desire: A Guide to Rediscovering Your Sexual Passion]
Living and working in Washington DC as a speechwriter for the men (sic) who famously made government policy during the Vietnam years gave Judith Nies a fascinating life story through which she shows history unfolding that is trenchantly relevant to Iraq-era politics today. As she gradually leaves behind the "girl" who is trained to wear white gloves and ask few questions, she confronts inequities of gender and race, demonstrating how far we've come in the last 40 years--and how far we still have to go. If you've ever wondered if bras were really burned at the Miss America pageant in 1968, how women first got to become news reporters, or how war and peace actually proliferate, read this book--and be sure to discuss it with ten friends.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Anne Leslie on June 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In "The Girl I Left Behind" Judith Nies' tells us the history behind the feminist movement of the 1960's. The book could not be more timely, coming as it does on the heels of the contentious Democratic Primary season when for the first time in history we had a woman as a serious presidential candidate. Much has been written about Hillary Clinton's supporters, her most ardent being older white women. The constituencies of Hillary and Obama have put the spotlight on a feminist divide. Women who supported Obama or Edwards felt they were being assailed for not being "true" feminists. And there were those who discredited Hillary's candidacy on the "Evita" basis; that is, a woman taking over after her husband had left office to perpetuate his reign, so to speak. Hillary's older women supporters seemed to feel that younger women took things for granted after all the good fights they had fought.
Judith accesses for us the history of the modern feminist movement as it was initially led by older women who still had connections to the suffrage movement; the civil rights struggle and the anti-Vietnam war movement. Thus the book provides a point of departure to expand the current discussion of what it means to be a feminist in 2008 by reminding all of us, young and old alike, or indeed telling us for the first time that the Boomers, however many advances they helped to make for women, did not create the modern feminist movement.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lynn C. Tolson on April 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Judith Nies focuses on the sixties in terms of both her personal and professional lives. After earning a graduate degree in 1962, Ms. Nies could not find a job. Social norms dictated that women's roles were limited to wife and mother. Nies writes: "A successful college woman of the era was supposed to have an engagement ring on her finger by the end of her senior year." Campus recruiters encouraged her to take a job as a receptionist or customer service rep.

Nies' husband, Mac, was an economist working at the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. When he's called into the office of security agents, he is shown a file compiled by the FBI that pertains to Judith. Mac explains to his wife that it was customary for family members to be included in a security clearance. Judith was still in her twenties. What could possibly concern the FBI? Thus begins the weaving of professional with personal, and the stretch and strength that led to this memoir.

Judith gets a job as an aide to ten Congressmen. Her job is considered "the most interesting job in Washington." Nies uses her unique professional experience to examine women's history, which includes the institutionalized gender discrimination that oppresses and subjugates women. Nies is faced with hostile work environments filled with sexual innuendo, disparities of income, and credit reserved for men only. Judith must also make impossible personal decisions limited by the mores of the time.

Judith Nies views the sixties with clarity so that readers are able to see how the collective feminist consciousness evolves. The Girl I Left Behind is as much of a history of social cause and effect as it is a personal memoir of Nies challenges and changes.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Carol Grosser on August 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just learned about this book from C-SPAN2 presentation and I have ordered the book. So I am writing a request for this author or other feminist authors to answer my question--where and how and when did we lose the feminist movement and here is my evidence that it was lost.

I am 63 and I worked for the anti-Vietnam War movement in San Antonio for the American Friends Service Committe as the typist and mimeographer.

I was in the early consciousness raising groups of the feminist movement. I left that group because my husband wanted to come to be "liberated" and then took up with one of the other women leaving me in the dust!! Additionally, one of the most amazing facts dropped by one of the "leaders" of our consciousness raising group was that many major corporations were financing the women's movement. I began to think the feminist movement must be going awry if that were true.

I still very much hold to feminist ideals and beliefs in spite of that.

However, I remember the naysayers during the early feminist movement saying that we just wanted to be "men!" But now I see a vanished feminist movement turning out to make the naysayers true.

How do you explain the heavily-made up, pretty, young, mostly dyed blond hair females on the networks in stocks, weather, and news loudly proclaiming what male spectator sports to attend or applaud? How do you explain Jane Mayer's book where one of the most evil of Bush's torturers was female?

We lost the female persona of nurturing and care and just added the male persona of the biggest cojones are the best. We have the highest rate of female violence that is mentioned occasionally as if it is of little import.
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