This started out good but fizzled in the last half. She dealt with some ugly stuff in her life and found a sane way through it. I give her credit forThis started out good but fizzled in the last half. She dealt with some ugly stuff in her life and found a sane way through it. I give her credit for that. ...more
This is a somewhat difficult book to evaluate. The story of her life is intense and ultimately tragic, yet the kernel of triumph is that she was ableThis is a somewhat difficult book to evaluate. The story of her life is intense and ultimately tragic, yet the kernel of triumph is that she was able to emerge despite the most challenging of circumstances that would crush anyone. The book is written in Billie's own voice; great because you get the real feel of this woman, but I think her co-author could have done so much more to flesh out some of the details, which is where the book fell flat. She endured some unimaginable circumstances - raped at the age of 10 and jailed for it (!), raised in poverty by a mother who had her at 13 and bounced around between living with her mother and other relatives, drug addiction, living through the great depression and WWII, racism and Jim Crow laws, and preyed on by unscrupulous 'managers' who took advantage of her financially and sexually. What endures is the story of her amazing talent.
The bonus of this book was the tribute CD that came with it! Music she made popular performed by other artists - terrific. Deborah Cox performing Fine and Mellow is absolutely wonderful....more
A memoir full of conflicting feelings and actions told with amazing personal grace. Strom Thurmond was the longest serving Senator when he retired atA memoir full of conflicting feelings and actions told with amazing personal grace. Strom Thurmond was the longest serving Senator when he retired at the age of 100, and easily one of the most controversial figures over the course of his career. Many remember him as a staunch segregationist. Which makes the circumstances of this book all the more confounding - the author is his daughter, who was the product of an affair he had as a very young man with his family's black maid. Essie Mae grew up in the early years of her life thinking that the two people who raised her were her parents. She was being raised by her mother's sister and her husband. Surprise! This discovery was dropped on her in the most unusual way, first by her mother, and eventually her mother introduced her to the man who was her biological father, the Senator. This book tells the story of Essie Mae's discovery of her unusual family lineage, her eventual relationship with her father, how she kept it a secret until after his passing, and her reconciling of her feelings throughout the course of her life. Strom Thurmond's politics always made my stomach turn and this book did not endear him to me at all, despite the generous forgiveness bestowed on him by Essie Mae. Even though I read the book, I am still trying to imagine how she came to terms with her feelings and her father. Remarkable. ...more
Great book about a wonderful and brave woman. Frances Perkins was the first woman appointed to a Presidential Cabinet post when FDR appointed her as SGreat book about a wonderful and brave woman. Frances Perkins was the first woman appointed to a Presidential Cabinet post when FDR appointed her as Secretary of Labor in his first administration. As the title suggests, the book focuses on the establishment of all government programs that define The New Deal - the establishment of labor and employment rights and regulations, child welfare, immigration, unemployment insurance, and Social Security. Make no mistake, Frances Perkins was the visionary, author, and driver behind all of this. Her early life was one of privilege, but there was a restlessness in her that set her on a quest for learning and finding a way to help others. It was her witness of the tragedy of The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York that set her life calling and determination to forge workplace protections involving worker safety and fair treatment. She became active in New York State politics, and it was during this time that her paths crossed lightly with FDR. Frances had a diplomacy about her that was surely appealing to FDR, and it was this kind of give and take between them that provided the foundation for a relationship built on mutual trust and confidence. At a time when women were viewed as anomalies in politics, her assent onto the national governing stage is the first break in the White House glass ceiling. And what a break it was. In her first meeting with FDR prior to her appointment, she waltzed in expecting to talk about her recommendations for all the social programs she thought she be part of his administrations focus, but had no intention of accepting the Labor Secretary post. FDR politely did not take no for an answer, and soon she was home asking permission from her ill husband if she could take the job and packing her bags for Washington.
Her journey and her life work changed the country dramatically. She took over a bureaucratic post leading an agency that was badly run and neglected. She had to establish herself and take her rightful position in White House administration among skeptics and naysayers who would oppose her and her work for no other reason than her gender, yet she knew in order to get things done she had to be effective in a structure that relied on her ability to forge relationships and influence her detractors. She was careful to understand the motivations of those whose support she needed in order to advance an entire slate of New Deal programs. Although she had plenty of justification to resort to a sharp elbowed approach, brashness was not her way. She knew how to politic without being a pushover. She was a tireless advocate for her vision of government's proper role to provide dignity and security throughout life for every citizen, from cradle to grave, and how this would lead to lasting economic and national security. The forty hour work week, workplace safety, workers rights and protections secured through collective bargaining, elimination of child labor, and the minimum wage. Don't forget Social Security. Her one regret? Not being able to pass universal health insurance. Republican Senators torpedoed that plan. No doubt she would have been a big proponent of the Affordable Health Care Act if she were alive today - although she might have thought it did not go far enough. :-)
Kirstin Downey authored a magnificent book which brings to life the work of Frances Perkins, a magnificent woman of incredible vision, resolve, and results. There are many great insights about her working relationship with FDR as well as how he worked with his other cabinet members. The New Deal was landmark for its time and the legacy of that is something we all enjoy in this country. Ironic that I finished this book on Independence Day. ...more
If you are a fan of Mark Twain, you might enjoy this autobiographical sketch of his experiences along the Mississippi River. Much of this book is compIf you are a fan of Mark Twain, you might enjoy this autobiographical sketch of his experiences along the Mississippi River. Much of this book is comprised of vignettes told from the time of his young life as a riverboat cub and then his return trip many years later. Parts are told in his clasic wit style, but I struggled with his disjointed connections and it lacked flow in the story line. It was average overall even though there were some engaging parts to it. For a memoir my expectations were higher. For a series of short stories it would be more appealing....more