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The Hearts of Men: American Dreams and the Flight from Commitment Paperback – March 1, 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1st edition (1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385176155
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385176156
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #585,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

BARBARA EHRENREICH is the author of fourteen books, including the bestselling Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. She lives in Virginia, USA.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Steven Menzer on December 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
For men who think that feminism is a threat to the male sex, this book will open eyes and minds in the same way abolition liberated white slave-owners from their barbaric addiction to controlling other human beings against their will. And for women who see feminism as a threat to families, this book will either help relieve them of their ignorance of history, or only further convince them that a woman can have no other meaningful purpose than to bear and rear children.

This book addresses the disconnect between traditional gender roles and reality that has been building up steadily since the industrial revolution. The trend toward industrialization came to a head during WWI and especially WWII when many women worked in factories to produce munitions used by their husbands to kill. As the sudden return of men from great carnage sparked the baby boom, the notion of the "housewife" came to describe women's return to domesticity aided with a new arsenal of household gadgets and appliances. Betty Friedan wrote "The Feminine Mystique", in response to the vacuousness of this newly created paradigm of the suburban housewife paradise. Her book pointed out the absurdity of the domestic female role when modern conveniences had rendered them obsolete. Even childrearing was becoming usurped from the domain of women by the increasing institutionalization of public schools as day care centers.

A quarter century after Betty Friedan's landmark book, Barbara Ehrenreich finally gave men the same insight into how their roles have become outmoded in response to historical changes. If the feminist protest was against viewing females as mere baby-factories, this book critiques the socialization of men into being either breadwinners, or soldiers willing to sacrifice their lives in war.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Swartz on June 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
Barbara Ehrenreich was a prominent feminist author, who'd written books chronicling the way the culture has mistreated women, like For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women (with Deirdre English). But then she got interested in the notion that the culture was also mistreating men. At first, she says, she was skeptical. She intended to write a book mocking the idea. But the more she researched it, the more she realized the men had a point: patriarchy hurts them too.

The result is a book that's not only a brilliant chronicle of how the sexual revolution has changed men's lives, but an honest attempt to grapple with what it all means for women. It's a fascinating read -- her reinterpretation of Playboy alone is worth the work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By elizabeth earle on September 15, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ehrenreich is known as a great truth-teller. Many people are familiar with "Nickel and Dimed" for example, and many (women especially) remember "For Her Own Good." After having been impressed by her recent personal memoir "Living with a Wild God," I was inspired to delve into her earlier work and read "The Hearts of Men." (Although our public library is very well supplied, I had to request this one through interlibrary loan. Then, after I read it, I had to buy my own copy so that I could have it to share with friends.) Although this brilliant retrospective on changing social mores affecting sex, love, marriage and family covers mainly the years between 1950 and 1980, now more than thirty years after its publication this little book will cause grown-up readers of all ages to feel: "OK, now I get it." The author has connected the dots, so to speak, in a way that really makes sense and clearly illustrates the origins of present confusions, stresses and strains.
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By Jennifer Dawson on December 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though dated and not so groundbreaking as Ehrenreich's seminal immersion journalism work Nickel and Dimed, The Hearts of Men is an engaging read on an important subject that remains largely ignored. For a more complex, comprehensive, and thoroughly compelling text I enthusiastically recommend Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man by Pulitzer Prize winning feminist writer Susan Faludi.
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40 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence Krubner on August 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ehrenreich emphasizes that the economy changed dramatically during the post war boom, and the changes in the economy eventually demanded changes in the culture. Women have always worked, but they use to work at home on a farm. Even as late as the 30s and 40s America was still heavily agricutural. But during the 50s and 60s farm life died out in America, not totally of course, but to a large extent, replaced by big industry and then computers. On a farm a woman could do valuable work, in the new world of the 50s there was nothing for a woman to do but sit around and look pretty. You had millions of women of intelligence and strength and a desire for meaningful labor, and they no longer had an outlet, because they no longer lived on a farm. On a farm the could help their man and their family everyday, in a meaninful way. In the 50s, they were mere parasites, living at home in ease while the men worked. And eventualy, of course, the men got tired of that arrangement. To put it another way, on a farm, a man needs a wife. In the modern world, a man doesn't need a woman as much, or at least not in the same way. At some point, the culture had to adjust to the changes in the economy, and that adjustment was feminism. Women had to work so they could still contribute something meaninful to a marriage.
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