- Series: Sport and Society
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: University of Illinois Press (May 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 025206593X
- ISBN-13: 978-0252065934
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,212,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Babe: The Life and Legend of Babe Didrikson Zaharias (Sport and Society)
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Babe Didrikson Zaharias was the premier female athlete of her era, beginning with two gold medals in the 1932 Olympics and extending through a professional golf career that ended just before her death in 1956. Cayleff, professor of women's studies at San Diego State, examines this unique life from three perspectives: Babe's life as she lived it; the public persona Babe created in order to cope with the attitudes and mores of the times; and, finally, Babe's lesbianism. Unable to acknowledge her sexuality, Babe was forced to manufacture a palatable lifestyle for public consumption; hence, her marriage to professional wrestler George Zaharias. In researching her subject, Cayleff relies on Didrikson's sanitized autobiography, subsequent biographies, newspaper accounts, and interviews with family and friends, including the woman with whom Babe shared an intimate relationship, fellow golfer Betty Dodd. The result is a groundbreaking portrait of an astute, gifted woman forced to cope with a society that grudgingly approved of her athleticism but wasn't willing to deal with her sexuality. Wes Lukowsky --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Supremely gifted, [Zaharias] was brash, coarse, and loud, and this biography tells her story wonderfully." -- Library Journal. "A masterful portrait of a complex woman whose innate sense of showmanship allowed her to use her athletic gifts to create a mythic self. She always played in two games: the athletic contest and the mythic drama that made the contest matter." -- Sport History Review
Top customer reviews
This is well written, but suffers from my own perspective with an underlying desire to document how cruel and unmodern Babe's cultural times were to not allow lesbian relationships to be openly exposed and women to be subjected to conformity.
We live in just the reversal, where abnormality shines brightly as acceptable or even desirable, and where has this sexual revolution gotten our society?
Babe loved the game of golf, and my interest was primarily in this achievement area of her career. She should deserve more recognition as one of the game's truly greats!
Besides being way too long, the book contains more than a few statements bordering on the ridiculous, way too many distracting footnotes, and at LEAST one factual error. In the last chapter, Suzy Favor is cited as the 'outstanding swimmer' from University of Wisconsin who won a Babe-inspired award. In fact, Ms. Favor (now Mrs. Hamilton) is a nine-time NCAA champion RUNNER.
This error did not inspire confidence in the book's other assertions-foremost being that Babe's efforts to be more outwardly feminine in her later years were a facade to conceal her lesbianism. By the end of the book, I couldn't help thinking that perhaps Babe actually LIKED lipstick, skirts and perhaps even marriage.
What's really surprising is that the author fails to prove her case: she interviewed the young woman golfer who moved in with Babe and her husband George Zaharias after George ballooned up to 400 pounds, but she never got around to asking her if she and Babe really did the nasty. In fact, I was more struck by reading about the intensely heterosexual love affair between Babe and her professional wrestler husband. Some time in her late twenties, after her Olympic triumphs, Babe suddenly grew breasts and developed an interest in boys.