A lively, well-researched look at women's experiences of mental illness and its treatment from the late 18th century to the present day. Chapters areA lively, well-researched look at women's experiences of mental illness and its treatment from the late 18th century to the present day. Chapters are arranged in roughly chronological order, with each chapter highlighting a particular theme that predominated each era's understanding of mental illness and its expression. (Appignanesi is a big believer in cultural influences dictating the form a mental illness takes). Each chapter also features one or two famous case histories that illustrate these principles; the women profiled include Virginia Woolf, Zelda Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, Marilyn Monroe, French revolutionary Theroigne de Mericourt, and Prozac Nation author Elizabeth Wurtzel....more
A dense, informative, extensively footnoted history of the relationship between post-WWII suburbanization and the American environmental movement. BegA dense, informative, extensively footnoted history of the relationship between post-WWII suburbanization and the American environmental movement. Beginning with the return of the GIs from the war, and the huge demand for housing they put on an already undersupplied market, the book details almost three decades' worth of conflict between an American population expanding faster than its ability to plan its growth and the physical environment their expansion inevitably brought them up against.
The first two chapters deal with the adaptation of mass-production techniques to homebuilding, as homes built one by one, by individual builders, could never possibly meet the demand posed by all the WWII veterans returning and wanting to buy homes at once. Apart from being more destructive to the land, as huge tracts would be bulldozed to build a subdivision on, the widespread adoption of "tract housing" led to dramatically increased household energy use, since homes were no longer designed with passive solar heating (or cooling, as the case may be). The third chapter moves on to the problems of septic tanks, which leaked waste (most famously, soap suds) into the groundwater, and the fourth and fifth chapters discuss efforts by conservationists and government to preserve open space in general (for aesthetic reasons) and wetlands, hillsides and floodplains in particular (for ecological and hydrological reasons). The fifth, sixth and seventh chapters also spell out the role government agencies (particularly, three: the US Geological Survey, the Soil Conservation Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service) played in studying, publicizing and regulating the environmental costs of development.
What Rome does here that's new is, besides tracing the evolution of the environmental movement in parallel with the development of tract housing (which both introduced new environmental problems and put lots of people in a position to witness them firsthand, thereby raising their environmental consciousness), positing a bigger role for the federal government than previous environmental historians have been willing to grant.
He also gives a detailed intellectual history of both the environmental movement and the backlash to it --- for the former, in the baby steps taken from the aesthetic, quality-of-life approach to conservation to a more complex (and also more radical) ecological understanding, and for the latter, beyond simple economic motivations to a populist critique of "no-growth" measures (which can be seen as veiled attempts to keep out undesirable immigrants to an area) and a libertarian concern for property rights. ...more
Authoritative recounting of the eugenics movement's international origins --- first conceived in England, readily accepted, promulgated and adapted inAuthoritative recounting of the eugenics movement's international origins --- first conceived in England, readily accepted, promulgated and adapted into policy in America, and finally taken to its logical conclusion in Nazi Germany. ...more
This book is a collection of eighteen women's recollections of giving up babies they had as teenagers in the 1950s and '60s, always without any considThis book is a collection of eighteen women's recollections of giving up babies they had as teenagers in the 1950s and '60s, always without any consideration of whether they might want to keep the babies. These stories are bookended by the author's own saga of tracking down her biological mother and hearing HER story of giving up her child!
A powerful, eye-opening book; before reading this, I had no idea that women ever were forced to give up babies, let alone in such large numbers. ...more
This was a really fun and interesting read, and I learned a lot about the origins and evolution of early American comic books (and their ancestors, thThis was a really fun and interesting read, and I learned a lot about the origins and evolution of early American comic books (and their ancestors, the newspaper comics pages).
The author, David Hadju, has a particular knack for capturing the outsized, cartoonish personalities involved in comics history, especially EC Comics creator Bill Gaines. Hadju has an apparently inexhaustible wealth of quirky anecdotes about all the people he mentions (however briefly), and, while this gives the book much of its charm, it tends to detract from the flow. You forget, as you're reading all these intimate little asides and anecdotes, how the larger narrative had brought you there in the first place. I had to reread several passages to get my bearings.
I strongly recommend you read this and Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay either simultaneously or in fairly close succession, because Kavalier and Clay is a fictionalized version of this same story. ...more