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A Wild and Precious Life

4.49  ·  Rating details ·  334 ratings  ·  56 reviews
A lively, intimate memoir from a marriage equality icon of the gay rights movement, describing gay life in the 1950s and 60s New York City and her longtime activism.

"Brash, funny and brave." --NPR

"A captivating and inspiring story of a queer woman who believed in her right to take up space and be seen."-- BuzzFeed

"Windsor's story fighting for what she believed in is one
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by St. Martin's Press
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Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, 2019
Edie Windsor never could have expected to be at the forefront of a Supreme Court decision that would ultimately provide marriage equality at the federal level in the United States, and yet that’s exactly where she found herself in 2015. While that one day in June would catapult her into being an international icon within the LGBTQIA+ community, it was merely one defining moment in a life full of them. From her first moment of personal acceptance as a lesbian to her rise up the ranks of IBM, with ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Edie Windsor's best-known legacy will forever be the 2013 Supreme Court case of The United States vs. Windsor. This case overturned the section of the Defense of Marriage Act which stated that only one woman and one man could claim the rights associated with marriage, including inheritance rights. Windsor had been forced to pay inheritance taxes on her deceased spouse Thea Spyer's estate that she wouldn't have had to pay if either she or her spouse had been male. Windsor's case brought American ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Edie Windsor really did lead a wild and precious life!

Edie had a brilliant mind, a passion for life, and the stubbornness you need to make love last. She became internationally famous for taking on the supreme court regarding discrimination against the LGBTQ community, but while incredibly important, that case came in the last decade of her life and this book focuses more on all the living she did both before and after.

Given where we find ourselves today and that Edie literally had to fight the
Bob H
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful and lively biography of a long and adventurous life. It's not about the historic U.S. v. Windsor Supreme Court case -- but we learn just how much Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer meant to each other over 40 years together, and how much their marriage meant when it came time for Ms. Windsor to file suit. And, reading about Ms. Windsor's tumultuous life, and pioneering career in high tech, a reader might not find it surprising that she took the leadership role she did. We read of her ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I find myself crying, thankful that this account exists so that I could bear witness to such a lovely, long-lasting relationship.

Despite the fact that she was well-known among NYC’s lesbian community, I had never heard of Edie Windsor before her landmark Supreme Court case. A case that was being argued on March 27, 2013 as Gloria and I were getting married in New York City’s Carl Schurz Park.

Gloria and I—as well as countless other LGBTQ+ couples—owe a debt of gratitude to Edie’s grit and determ
Madalena Roseta
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Edie Windsor has been my role model ever since I caught the endearing tale of her very long engagement to Thea Spyer at an LGBT film festival in Lisbon. Her larger than life personality fills the pages of the book, her tremendous love for Thea leaves us wishing that their life had been easier. Being a lesbian in the 50s, 60s and 70s must have taken a lot of courage!
And of course once Thea died the fact that Edie took on the United States(!) to get her marriage to be recognized, going all the wa
Rosemary Vivian Gohd
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this mostly because its focus was primarily on Edie's relationships and life, not so much on the legal events. But what made the book so thoroughly good for me is that her life and relationships take the reader through a good cross section of LGBTQ+ history in America at its most important turning points. I felt thankful for having read it as I felt it broadened my appreciation for LGBTQ+ challenges past and present.
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, memoir
Wow. What a story. Edie Windsor was a super smart, self-assured woman who loved deeply and passionately. Being rich certainly afforded her many comfortabilities (which she readily acknowledged). It also gave her many opportunities — including the 2013 court decision that paved the way for marriage equality in the US. Bonus: she grew up in Philadelphia!
Anne Bolgert
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I so enjoyed how Joshua Lyon handled completing this book after Edie passed away - it was sensitively done and his additions at the end of each chapter also provided interesting background and insight to Edie's life, relationships, and the writing process.
April Taylor
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Edie Windsor didn't become an LGBTQ+ icon by choice, but her decision to fight for equal rights was truly life-changing for many people in the LGBTQ+ community (myself included). If it wasn't for Windsor's battle to avoid paying inheritance taxes after her partner of 40 years died, same-sex marriage would probably still be illegal in the United States. Thankfully, she not only fought that battle but won. I'm grateful for her personal sacrifices every single day because they made it possible for ...more
Jill Meyer
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Edie Windsor must have been quite a character. Windsor was the lead plaintiff in "United States vs Windsor", the landmark Supreme Court case which overturned Section 3 of DOMA, and led the way to gay marriage country-wide. But Edie Windsor was a news-maker and trend-setter her entire life.

Edie Windsor began her memoir, "A Wild and Precious Life: A Memoir", after the court case. She died before the book was finished and her co-author Joshua Lyon finished it up, and annotated much of what Windsor
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
A Wild and Precious Life by Edie Windsor & Joshua Lyon is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early October.

An assembled first-person autobiography from written correspondence, interviews with loved ones, mementos, newsprint, and tenuous, yet savant memories as Windsor had grown more advanced in age before her death in late September 2017. Gosh, she's so grownup, alluring, zoftig, and charismatic. She and Thea meet in 1963, bond as dance partners, both being Jewish, highly motivated, and devot
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
It must be immensely challenging to be working with someone on their memoir, only to have them pass away before the book is finished. I think the coauthor did an amazing job of filling in the blanks left at Edie Windsor's death.

She was a remarkable woman who made a significant difference with the "wild and precious life" she had. I have worked in LGBT advocacy for several decades, and while our paths did not cross while she was alive, some people I know are mentioned in the book, and am reasona
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent memoir. Edie Windsor passed away slightly before the book was completed, and the way the co-author embellished the end of each chapter with information gleamed from friends, relatives, research into her vast collection of documents and memorabilia was truly a gift. Being able to fill in the blanks with others’ perspectives made the memoir all the richer.

I also enjoyed the forthright descriptions of her sexual life/sexuality, both at a younger age and as she got older. My favorite line
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was such a stunning book. It made me laugh and brought me to tears and made me feel so much pride and joy. Edie had such a badass, wild, amazing, incredible, inspirational life and so full of joy. Her relationship with Thea made me feel so many feels, they were so vibrant and passionate and BRB CRYING FOREVER. So many passages in the book made me exclaim out loud in joy, happiness, sadness.

Edie had such a vibrant, interesting, unusual life, and seized the day for sure! Also, I loved hearin
Mar 04, 2020 marked it as dnf
I greatly admire Edie Windsor and think she was incredibly courageous to take on the Supreme Court, which resulted in making marriage equality the law of the land in 2013. She sounds as if she was quite a character. Unfortunately, this memoir didn't quite work for me. It's told chronologically with an excessive amount of details that aren't necessary to the story (we don't really need to know down to the ashtrays how she decorated her first New York apartment). I found myself becoming bored by s ...more
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don’t really have words to express how much reading this meant to me or how much it made me feel. I love this book so much and I’m glad it exists in the world. It’s so much more than a memoir. I previously had read Then Comes Marriage by Roberta Kaplan and Lisa Dickey about the Supreme Court case. I’m so happy that I got to learn more about Edie Windsor as a person and her story is truly inspiring. It goes into detail about her love with Thea and their beautiful life together. “Don’t postpone ...more
Lauren LoGiudice
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A lovely read!

Edie tells her story and co-writer Joshua Lyon chimes in with historical context, as well as more insight into Edie's life.

Edie was a humble warrior so it was crucial to have Joshua shed light on the true impact she was having. She also lived through monumental historical events and having that understanding made it easier to see how Edie's story fits in with the larger narrative of the LGBTQ rights movement.

Edie's spirit really jumps off the page and makes you feel that, like he
Dec 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really like Edie Windsor, so it was fun to learn more about her life. The details were messier than I'd realized, but it is also a relief to learn more about a celebrity you admire and end up still liking them just as much. As a sidenote, I'd always wondered how Edie and Thea were so wealthy and was quite surprised to find a brief mention of the fact that Edie was a successfully gambler and good at counting cards!
Fay Jacobs
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book, part memoir part biography, telling the story of a remarkable woman. It reads like a novel, gives insights into the social climate for the LGBTQ community from the 1950s through the 2010s....the growth and change in attitudes and events were momentous and this book shows and tells exactly how Edie Windsor influenced it all. Terrific book.
Lynda Lippin
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this memoir, written by Edie Windsor with commentary by Joshua Lyon, we get a history of gay NY, of technology and computing, and of LGBTQ rights. And all this fascinating history is intertwined in Windsor's life and love stories.

I wish I had known her, and has shared just a little bit in her life and love. She was a powerhouse until the day she died, still planning events and activities.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best book I have read in ages. I generally can't finish non-fiction, I really have to have a plot. This one kept me laughing and crying and turning pages. A very compelling subject, but the writing is also just superb.
Susie Dumond
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Edie Windsor rose to national fame as an LGBT activist in 2013 as the lead plaintiff in United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act. But before becoming the queer icon many remember her as today, she led what is truly a wild and precious life. In this memoir, she looks back on exploring her identity, queer life in 1960s New York, and her decades long relationship with her wife, Thea Spyer.

Edie Windsor was a legend, absolutely original and inimita
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
(1) Edie Windsor lived an incredible life. (2) She and Joshua Lyons have done an incredible job capturing that story.

While Edie may be known for her role in overturning DOMA as the named party in US v. Windsor, it's a testament to how much and how fully she lived that the court battle is appropriately only a small slice of her biography. A Wild and Precious Life weaves Edie's personal life story with the broader historical touchstones to create an experience that is both singular and universal.
Jan A.
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Love Story

We should all be so lucky in life to experience the love between Edie and Thea. And later in life experience another love Edie had with Judith. Such a moving book that led me to tears!

Toby Murphy
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
There could’ve been more but that may be due to Windsor’s passing during this. Overall, her story can be heartbreaking and inspiring. It’s great to see the story behind the woman who’s become a bit of an icon.
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can’t even explain how this book made me feel. I’m just so grateful to have Edie Windsor as a role model, and for the rights I have because of her. If you see me crying about this book, mind ya business
Adrian Shanker
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Edie Windsor’s memoir is fun to read and captivating, but is also a reminder of how far the movement for LGBT liberation has come. I especially appreciated that it memorializes Edie the way she asked to be remembered, and not mythologized only by her Supreme Court victory. Read this book!!!
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable memoir - Windsor doesn't hold back about what motivated her as she chose to hide her sexuality with some, and explore it in depth with others. The parts about her determination to work in math, and her career growth at IBM were inspiring as well.
Heather Bennett
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Wild and Precious Life is truly a fascinating look at Edie Windsor's life and the LGBTQ life in the 50's and 60s. Well written and interesting.
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