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Virginity or Death!: And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time Paperback – June 13, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
This second collection of Pollitt's columns in the Nation offers more lively and penetrating discussion of political, social and cultural trends from one of the country's finest left commentators and feminist stalwarts. Picking up in early 2001 where her previous collection (Subject to Debate) left off, the 84 taut essays—invariably witty, astute and relentlessly logical—together chart the progress of right-wing policies under the Bush administration before and after the flash point of 9/11, while engaging such urgent and related issues as the attack on abortion rights, the health-care crisis, the rise of the Christian Right, expanding war and militarism, gay marriage and the perpetual "demise" of feminism in the mass media. Selections include perhaps her most infamous essay, "Put Out No Flags" (Oct. 8, 2001)—an account of an argument with her teenage daughter over displaying the U.S. flag at home after 9/11—but there are also dozens of incisive, frequently hilarious gems here. While no conservative interested in public debate should ignore so formidable an opponent, this book will appeal mostly to progressive readers (fans of Barbara Ehrenreich or Molly Ivins are only the most obvious match). (June 13)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Noting that the editorial staff likes to observe that while George Bush "has been a disaster for the nation" he has been great for the Nation, columnist Pollitt offers a collection of the many ways the administration has provoked her wry observations. Arranged in chronological order, this collection provides an acerbic look at a wide range of social and political issues from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to Catholic priests sexually abusing children. Pollitt asks why women seeking abortions must be subject to a litany of possible--and unsubstantiated--health risks but are never advised of the greater risks of continuing a pregnancy, as conservatives cover their antiabortion positions under the guise of protecting women's health. She critiques the myriad other ways that women's rights have come under attack, from bogus research on the harmful effects of day care on children to popular books purporting to show that career women are unhappy. Her column cautioning Americans against the impulse to engage in flag-waving jingoism after 9/11 is also included in this thought-provoking collection. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
What really impresses me is the way that Pollitt captures the country in the George W. Bush years, combining a catalog of calamities on a social and political level. Pollitt is able to connect the big picture with the average person, the personal story with the propaganda-driven policy. She articulates clear, and unmuddled perceptions that pop truth in every turn of phrase.
I have two favorites. In one, Pollitt takes on the sudden use of "framing" by Democrats. "Perhaps I'm naïve," she writes, "but I keep thinking that reframing misses the point, which is to speak clearly from a moral center - precisely not to mince words and change the subject and turn the tables." Every essay by Pollitt mirrors that demand.
Another personal "best" -- and it's hard to choose - is when Pollitt takes on opinionator William Saleton, who considers himself pro-choice, but wags his finger at pro-choice women for abortion and not practicing "contraceptive diligence." Pollitt points out that it is the anti-abortion movement that opposes contraception. And she notes, "Nobody's proposing the walk of shame for men who don't or won't use condoms."
Pollitt writes in her intro that we need to think about our world in a bigger way. Her special ability is to help break down that world and find its touch points in our lives. After all, she writes, "The requirements of real life count for something, no matter what ideology says."
"Virginity or Death!" is exciting and invigorating. It should be a coursework staple in sociology, anthropology, political science -- and logic. And it is wonderful reading for all who care about the direction of our country. Highly recommended!
Huntington News Network Book Critic
Hinton, WV (HNN) - If you're a liberal - I believe the current vogue word is "progressive" since the L-word is the kiss of death for many - Katha Pollitt's second collection of columns from the The Nation magazine will be red meat--a classic case of preaching to the choir.
The columns gathered in "Virginity or Death!" (Random House Trade Paperback, $13.95, 288 pages) are among the best writing in the magazine. I often disagree with Pollitt's conclusions and arguments, but her columns are the first ones I read in The Nation. She's the equal of Molly Ivins, Maureen Dowd and any number of liberal, er, progressive male writers. Speaking of Dowd, Pollitt takes on the Gray Lady's sole Times Select female columnist in "The World According to Dowd." She's got good and bad things to say about Nicholas Kristof, David Brooks and other Select'd Ones. (Note to NY Times: Drop this Times Select mishigash and let ordinary readers like me read Brooks, Herbert, Rich, Dowd, Kristof and all the rest.).
The 84 essays in this collection by Pollitt include the one where she advised her teenage daughter Sophie that she (Sophie) could put a U.S. flag out her bedroom window, but not out of the living room window. "Put Out No Flags" was the title of that controversial post 9/11 piece and it attracted lots of hate mail for Pollitt and several flags for her daughter.
Since the departure of Christopher Hitchens from the ranks of The Nation columnists, Pollitt is the only one worth reading, in my opinion. She's even got a column or two addressing the circumstances of Hitchens' departure.Read more ›
For potential purchasers/readers, let me offer a couple of wonderful samples to tempt you.
Some states, California among them, have "conscience laws" permnitting anti-choice healthworkers to refuse to be involved in abortions. And some pharmacists refuse to provide the morning-after pill. But imagine if a Jehovah's Witness nurse refused to assist with a blood transusion or a Muslim bank loan officer refused to charge interest or a Southern Baptist psychotherapist told Jewish patients they were going to hell.
"The Family Research Council says that every frozen embryo should 'have an opportunity to be born'.... So, concerned Women of America, give a frozen embryo the gift of gestation. Mona Charen, Ann Coulter, it isn't enough to write columns comparing stem-cell research to tearing transplantable organs out of freshly killed prisoners - you could be leading the way.... Frozen embryo rescue would [also] be an interesting project for the Sisters of Life, the anti-choice order founded by the late John Cardinal O'Connor. Sort of a virgin birth kind of thing."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
..feisty, fearless, funny. I've just got to condoms. Saying their advocacy 'sends a "mixed message" about the value of total abstinance until marriage..[is].. Read morePublished on September 11, 2011 by Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso'
I'm rather conservative but something about the reviews for this book made me want to buy it. Even though I'm opinionated, I still like to sample opposing points of view just for... Read morePublished on February 1, 2007 by lighten_up_already2
Katha Pollitt's columns in the Nation show some of the best writing in the country. This book is a collection of some of her columns over the last few years. Read morePublished on August 31, 2006 by Kristin Belko
Katha Pollitt makes every reader think. Her writing fuses incisive political argument with wise wit and elegant style. Read morePublished on August 28, 2006 by Dolores Hayden
Unflinching in its analysis and unfailing in its logic, "Virginity or Death!" wrestles with some of the most difficult and confounding issues of the day and, with death-defying... Read morePublished on July 28, 2006 by Kamy Wicoff
Katha Pollitt remains one of the great, largely undiscovered resources of wisdom with teeth in this country. Rank her with Molly Ivins and Barbara Ehrenreich! Read morePublished on July 24, 2006 by Gary Daily
I have never read anything by Katha Pollitt that suggests even remotely that she thinks for herself. This book is no exception. I'm definitely a progressive, politically. Read morePublished on July 12, 2006 by Daz
Even though I am compulsive about finishing books that I start, I just cannot bring myself to waste more time with this one. It is boring.
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