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Women in the Material World Hardcover – August 20, 1996


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Women in the Material World + Material World: A Global Family Portrait + Hungry Planet: What the World Eats
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A follow-up to coauthor Peter Menzel's lauded Material World: A Global Family Portrait, Women in the Material World once again illuminates the human family--but this time with the focus on women. The result is an arresting collection of photographs, interviews, and anecdotes documenting the day-to-day lives and thoughts of women from 20 different countries. From Albania to India to the United States, we hear the female viewpoint on politics and religion, men and marriage, children and education. Cultural stereotypes are both supported (an Ethiopian mother explains why her daughter must be circumcised) and shattered (the loving equity of an Albanian marriage). The gorgeous accompanying photographs artfully link narrative text with faces and environs, from the rugged peaks of Bhutan to the Mediterranean beaches of Israel. What emerges is a captivating survey of women's lives in the late 20th century, and--even more--a powerful feeling of connectedness with these fellow human beings. --Rebecca Gleason

From Publishers Weekly

The lives of women in 20 diverse countries are spotlighted in this beautiful and moving photo-essay, an offshoot of Menzel's Material World: A Global Family Portrait. In Russia, Zhanna Kapsalova, still recovering from the Christmastime 1993 murder of her husband, shuttles frantically between two teaching jobs. In Ethiopia, Zenebu Tulu, who was kidnapped into marriage by her future husband, explains that having regular, unwanted pregnancies is an unavoidable fact of life, and she resourcefully makes the best of her situation. In Albania, Hanke Cakoni bathes her severely disabled seven-year-old son, then makes lunch before her three other children return from school, while the family's goats wander through the house. "In our country women are treated as one step beneath men," she says, a sentiment often echoed in the interviews with women in China, Italy, India, Japan, the U.S., Jordan, Israel, Mali, South Africa, Mongolia, Thailand, Bhutan, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti and Guatemala. A unique, revealing, multicultural celebration of women's invisible role in societies around the world. (Sept.) FYI: D'Aluisio, a former TV news producer in Houston (now living in California), and Menzel, a photographer for Life and Smithsonian, led a team of female photojournalists and interpreters to compile the interviews and 375 color photos.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Sierra Club Books Publication
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sierra Club Books (August 20, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871563983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871563989
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.9 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #770,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Erika Mitchell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a superlative sequel to the early Material World by Peter Menzel. I have read the earlier book so many times that when this new volume came out, I bought it immediately sight unseen. In this book, Faith D'Aluisio revisits 19 of the 30 families featured in the Material World to find out about the women's lives.
The articles are organized alphabetically, together with short features on marriage, laundry, work, education, childcare, hair, food, water, and friends. At the back of the book, we find statistical charts about women, and a useful statistics glossary. Each article has an extended interview with the mother of the family that reveals parts of her life story as well as her attitudes towards topics such as marriage, child care, education, money, and possessions. The articles are of course filled with numerous color photos, large and small, of the women at work and with other family members.
The Material World itself is a monumental book, but it was hard to go back to it after reading this book, where we find that the details presented in the Material World were so incredibly superficial. For example, family life for Maria dos Anjos Ferrerira in Brazil or Carmen Balderas de Castillo in Mexico isn't nearly as rosy as one might guess from looking at their original smiling photos in the Material World. On the other hand, Zhanna Kapralova from Russia continues to be a survivor. No matter how much you learn from the Material World, it will be far eclipsed by this book with its extended interviews and additional photographs.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on June 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A sequel to the authors' successful, "Material World: A Global Family Portrait," which interviewed 30 "statistically average" families from around the world and photographed them surrounded by all their worldly goods, "Women In The Material World," by Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel, revisits 21 women from these families.
With interviews conducted by women over a period of days, even weeks, and 375 color photographs of women captured in their daily lives, this is an absorbing look into an overlooked world of marriage, women's work and families. From female circumcision to divorce, from finances to education, gender roles, work, and friends, women discuss every aspect of their lives - seemingly freely.

Two themes repeat through this largely agricultural world - women's work begins before dawn and ends long after dark and most women feel they have enough children - whatever that number may be.
This is a fascinating, captivating and beautiful volume, to be read, not just browsed.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Diane Moore VINE VOICE on June 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I first read Material World: a Global family portrait. This one is similar, and has some of the same people in it, but this one focuses on the women in the family, and how she takes care of her family, what she thinks about, how she gets along in life in general.
There are some statistics about the country, things about how much money they make, the literacy rate, etc.. none of it boring. the book makes you feel like you are traveling around the world and meeting all of these people. The pictures are also beautiful.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in other cultures and the way that women live around the world.. i would love to find more books like this. It makes me thankful for how much I have and the opportunities in this country that are open to women!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Allyn on July 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
When I first ordered this book and received it in the mail, after opening the box it came in, sat down right then and there "just to take a peek". Well, let's just say, my short "peek" turned into an interrupted 30 minutes! "Women in the Material World" certainly joins the ranks of "can't-put-down-and-can't-forget-about" books. It is a very worthy sequel to "Material World", in which women from some of the "Material World" families are looked at more closely. Perhaps the most special thing about this book is a long, personal, and intimate interview with each women. The women are surprisingly open in responding about their daily life, their children, their marriage, and their future hopes. "Women in the Material World" simply lets the women speak for themselves, and in the process, breaks down many stereotypes (who would have thought a 58-year Chinese woman would love farming much more than her traditional household duties?)and lets others remain (the secluded life of an Indian woman). Statistics for that country, quick facts about each woman, a brief write-up on conditions for women in each of their countries, and field notes from the photographer further enrich this amazing book. The women in this book will inspire you, challenge you, and never let you forget this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Erica Dequina on May 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read the book, Women in the Material World after I saw the author at a young women's conference last year. I thought the book was great. It showed many women's points of view on life and the way they live. This book made me think about other women and how we are all very different but also the same. I think this book is very truthful and has a beautiful message. There are not many books like this out there so I commend Faith for writing it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Smith on July 20, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A companion to Material World: Portrait of the Global Family, this book is an incredible expose of the lives of typical, average women all over the world. I, as an American woman with everything I could ever possibly dream of, especially appreciate seeing how things may have different for me had God just decided to make me the girl child of a Vietnamese working family vs. my background. It really makes you take stock of your life, appreciate it, and feel blessed no matter what your circumstances may be. America is truly a wealthy and favored nation. Even our poor, compared with most of the countries in the world, are rich! We should all feel compelled to give back, not matter how much (or how little) we have. I've been giving this book to my friends for gifts (thank you, Amazon!) A MUST READ!
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