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My Life on the Road Paperback – August 23, 2016
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An Amazon Best Book of November 2015: To women “of a certain age” – a euphemism the author of this book would surely abhor – the idea that Gloria Steinem is a revolutionary thinker, a wonderful writer and a practical activist is not, perhaps, news. (But there is something joyful in the rediscovery of same.) To those who didn’t know or don’t remember the Steinem story – founding Ms. Magazine, fighting for reproductive rights, waiting to marry until she was in her 60s! -- it might be a revelation. Long before Sheryl Sandberg leaned in at work, Steinem was preaching the gospel of empowered women by, among other things, travelling the country and the world listening to people, gathering stories and insights, offering support of the intellectual and emotional kind. From the very first page – in which she dedicates her book to the British doctor who ended Steinem’s pregnancy, illegally, in 1957 – to the tales of a supposedly shy woman who admitted she wanted to nail their sloppy husband’s tossed-anywhere underwear to the floor, Steinem recounts a life well-travelled in every sense. Now 81, the woman who at 40 replied to a compliment about her appearance with “this is what 40 looks like,” Steinem can still raise consciousnesses, including her own. – Sara Nelson--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“This legendary feminist makes a compelling case for traveling as listening: a way of letting strangers’ stories flow, as she puts it, ‘out of our heads and into our hearts.’”—People
“Like Steinem herself, [My Life on the Road] is thoughtful and astonishingly humble. It is also filled with a sense of the momentous while offering deeply personal insights into what shaped her.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“[Steinem’s] new book is a lyrical meditation on restlessness and the quest for equity that has taken her from the women-only rail cars of India to myriad university campuses where she has helped generations of women and men rally their collective voices. . . . Part of the appeal of My Life is how Steinem, with evocative, melodic prose, conveys the air of discovery and wonder she felt during so many of her journeys. . . . Whatever one’s politics, such candor draws you in. And as the country continues to struggle with painful questions about race relations, reproductive rights and the plight of immigrants, the lessons imparted in Life on the Road offer more than a reminiscence. They are a beacon of hope for the future.”—USA Today
“My Life on the Road, Ms. Steinem’s first book in more than twenty years, is a warmly companionable look back at nearly five decades as itinerant feminist organizer and standard-bearer. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to sit down with Ms. Steinem for a casual dinner, this disarmingly intimate book gives a pretty good idea, mixing hard-won pragmatic lessons with more inspirational insights.”—The New York Times
“Steinem beautifully illustrates how her perpetual motion has shaped her professional life. . . . [She] has gained wisdom from cabdrivers and fellow airplane passengers, and gotten story tips from strangers at rural diners and truck stops. . . . Steinem’s life has been so remarkable that her memoir would have been fascinating even without a central theme, but her decision to use travel as a thematic thread was a smart one.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
“Steinem rocks. My Life on the Road abounds with fresh insights and is as populist as can be. . . . Honoring its title, My Life on the Road ranges around subject-wise. One minute Steinem is writing about stewardesses on the shuttle, the next women who taught Gandhi. Now she’s railing against Betty Friedan, whose focus on white middle-class feminism Steinem argues damaged the movement. Still later she’s celebrating her friendships with Native American women, whom she sees as guides into the future. . . . Go, Steinemite!”—The Boston Globe
“In person and in her writing, Steinem exudes a rare combination of calm, humility and honesty about her weaknesses that explains all she has accomplished and why she’s become the figurehead she has. . . . Her secret appears to be a surprising willingness to be open to learning from her incredibly varied audiences. . . . [This is] a memoir—but really, it’s a lens through which to see a great many people, a vessel for their stories, a mouthpiece to share them.”—Jezebel
“It’s amazing to have a lifelong heroine who is also one of my favorite writers. Gloria Steinem is a deeply revolutionary woman. She steered us through the contentious years of the women’s movement without losing her humanity or her wonderful sense of humor. She changed America in a fundamental way without being damaged by it or losing her joy. My Life on the Road is filled with beautifully told stories of the people she has spoken with and listened to, been changed by, helped organize, got radicalized by, could get lost in, could get found in. It is soul material, human and political, funny and touching, deeply spiritual. I began it again the day after I finished.”—Anne Lamott
“Rarely do women have the opportunity to travel as Steinem has done—living a life full of radical adventure. Everywhere she goes, she carries with her the vitality of democracy, of freedom for women and men, and her profound love of justice. Now she offers us the good fortune of journeying with her. My Life on the Road is an inspiring work, a call for action. Steinem shares her life as a global freedom fighter, inviting readers to continue the journey—and the struggle.”—bell hooks
“My Life on the Road is a personal, beautiful look at the deceptively radical act of travel and how it formed one of our most important voices for human rights. By delving deeper into her own thrilling story, Steinem shows us that we all have a fighter inside us—we need only pack our bags and follow her.”—Lena Dunham
“Countless times, I had to put Gloria Steinem’s new book down and allow an explosive truth she had just revealed to roll through me. And they all arrived—page after page—in the most personal, unexpected ways. I won’t be the same person after having read My Life on the Road.”—Jane Fonda
“Gloria Steinem’s new book is a lightning rod to the head and heart: stimulating, no, shocking us to get up out of our easy chairs and do something meaningful with our lives—to hit the road. Women will read My Life on the Road, but men must.”—James Patterson
“Gloria Steinem’s lightness of being combined with her complete seriousness, her love for words and her call for actions, remind us to celebrate her as one of the most important women of our time.”—Diane von Furstenberg
From the Hardcover edition.
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Steinem is the half generation between me and my mother. In the late 60's as my mother was ironing we were watching TV. The women's movement was considered radical fringe, even to my mother's peers who had built planes and careers during WWII only to be sent home afterwards. My mother watched Steinem on TV and said "she is so brave". I asked why and she said "she is so beautiful she could have had an easy life. She has chosen a hard road. It will make your life better". The absurd in the 1960s is now law of the land. It is with that in mind I read this book and appreciated the context of her travels and impact.
This is a fast conversation of a book, not a polemic. I loved it and I hope it finds a wide audience.