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Heroes of Their Own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  30 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
A brilliant history of family violence that reveals the reasons for society'sfailure to control it. "Feminist scholarship at its best"--The New York TimesBook Review. 16 pages of photos.
Paperback, 416 pages
Published April 1st 1989 by Penguin Books (first published 1988)
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Mels Mueller
Oct 20, 2012 Mels Mueller rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Book Clubs, People who want to know about Social Work in Boston
Recommended to Mels by: Book Club
Shelves: book-club-books
Such a biased book. It is clear that the author is a historian since she went to all the effort of reading the case files from the MSPCC but I was often left wondering why she chose only Boston (I know she told us but still) when she herself is from Wisconsin. Surely she could have looked at several different cities to have gotten an average of the social work in the country at the time. The fact that she only looked at Boston (if the reader is not aware of this fact) makes it look like the prob ...more
Oct 10, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In class we have been discussing a lot of positives and negatives about this book, but I think most readers who are interested in the topic will find the book fascinating and will not particularly care about the various ways it can be criticized. The biggest problem is that pretty much all of this is based on one set of sources - case records prepared by social workers. These social workers were middle or upper class people, and they were recording information about lower class people, often imm ...more
Feb 05, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theory, history
This was a very interesting study of, as the tag line reads, "the politics and history of family violence." Using evidence from Boston from 1880-1960, Linda Gordon presents both an interesting, provocative, and at times untenable historical analysis. On the one hand, several of her claims and conclusions are clear and well-supported. I totally buy that "family violence" is a culturally, socially, and politically constructed category; I also agree with her evidence that shows that, in historical ...more
This was interesting, but a bit old perhaps. There were some issues, such as speaking about the white Americans as "native" and I too got confused about the Freudian stuff. In some cases the author was clearly referring to the beliefs of the historical time she was researching but in some occasions it sounded a bit like the author herself was also defending those Freudian theories.

But all in all it was still and interesting read. Just keep in mind, that the book is from the 80's.
Nov 04, 2009 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
This is the way a history based on organizational records should be done. Excellent examination of family violence based on the records of a Boston children's welfare organization. Well written, compelling, and thought provoking
Nov 15, 2011 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was very helpful for my paper on the social construction of Child Maltreatment. It explores how Boston looked at child abuse and the social control of the upper and middle class imposed on the poor.
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Linda Gordon is the Florence Kelley Professor of History at New York University. She is the author of numerous books and won the Bancroft Prize for The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction. She lives in New York. "
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