PositiveThe Washington PostLevy has done a sensitive job telling the stories of the nine pioneering women he has designated as those who cracked the glass ceiling of comedy ... demonstrates how tough the work was — incessant travel, leaving one’s family for weeks at a time just to get heckled onstage or fondled backstage, doesn’t seem so fun. Levy spends too much time calculating what a 1959 paycheck would be today. We get it: inflation.
PositiveThe Star TribuneLevy has done a sensitive job telling the stories of nine pioneering women he has designated as those who cracked the glass ceiling of comedy ... demonstrates how tough the work was — incessant travel, leaving one\'s family for weeks at a time just to get heckled onstage or fondled backstage, doesn\'t seem so fun. Levy spends too much time calculating what a 1959 paycheck would be today. We get it: inflation ... Of his nine exemplars, only one is still alive: Elaine May. I was so looking forward to reading Levy\'s interview with her and disappointed that her profile was written without her input. At the end of his book, Levy does list some of the more successful working comics who are women. They are not funny despite being women, and they are not funny because they are women. They are funny. Here\'s looking at you, Amy Schumer.
RaveThe Washington Post... generous and compassionate ... Her tour of humanity, spanning unlighted country roads in Australia to crumbling apartments in the South Bronx, shows that many human beings benefit from finding an ideology that encompasses not just their beliefs but their ways of living. I don’t know if Krasnostein is entertained, credulous or just tolerant of the ghost types, and that is one of her gifts ... Krasnostein skips from subject to subject and returns, with the fluidity of a string wound for a game of cat’s cradle—in and out and back where she started ... Her talent for penetrating intimate settings and eliciting personal testimony is impressive. The profiles are fascinating—I can’t imagine talking to paranormal enthusiasts for more than 10 minutes without nodding off or secretly checking my phone, but Krasnostein’s portraits left me feeling melancholy all the same. We all want so much to belong, to believe, to connect, to be whole, to be good—and that’s a lot, whether you work at the Ark Encounter in Kentucky or are chasing space aliens in Victoria.
PositiveWashington PostAll this will be fascinating to beauty (and scholarship) pageant devotees who are curious about the before, during and immediate afterward of a winner’s life ... What was new to me was the plight of the organization and the people who clutched power within it. I probably would have welcomed more of that, along with pictures of these lesser gods ... I confess I became a little impatient with all the names of all the contestants.
PositiveThe Washington PostMiles’s tone swings all this speed-herstory along, with a giant helping of feminist theory. On the book goes, finding daring women of all kinds. Miles takes on not just the patriarchy but the phallusy as well ... She introduces us to explorers, pilots, warriors, spies, writers, queens, traitors, courtesans, athletes and politicians we’ve not heard of before. And some we have. Alongside their brief biographies are frequent asides about the lack of recognition these ladies endured, or something about how if men had to menstruate it would become a sacred act. In other words, Miles is pissed off ... Woven throughout The Women’s History of the Modern World are little pauses — almost like cul de sacs — in which Miles (who is married and has grown children) hints that conventional women’s lives centered on a husband and family are not always the most satisfying or enriching ... Miles skips many damning stories of women who were the true stars behind their men, but then that could fill volumes.
RaveThe Washington PostCollins is a cheerful companion through the decades. Right from the introduction, the reader understands Collins’s point of view: A woman can be kind, intelligent, hard-working and successful, but we’re always going to wonder if she’s coloring her hair, or has gained or lost a little weight. Nevertheless, there are dozens upon dozens of heroic stories of remarkable women in this book that will be new to the average reader ... This is a history book, a sprightly one ... devotes much more time and space to politics and good works.
Steven M. Gillon
MixedThe Washington PostYes, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was a strict parent ... And sure, Aristotle Onassis was probably not the best choice for a fun stepdad, but nothing thus far tells us anything the casual Kennedy watcher didn’t already know. In fact, it had this reviewer scratching her head, wondering why the big embargoed fuss over the book ... it’s not until two-thirds of the way through this book that we get to the what-I-hate-to-call-the-juicy-parts, complete with a villainess or two ... Page after page of never-before-revealed details about [the magazine George\'s] advertising plans are something to look forward to here, as well as the conflict that was a constant in Kennedy’s life—people just wanting to look at him (is that so wrong?) vs. taking him seriously ... In this portrait, [Carolyn Bessette] comes across as unhappy, unhinged and self-absorbed ... America’s Reluctant Prince underscores a problem in the genre of friends becoming biographers of their subjects. On the one hand, the writer has access to his own memories and mutual friends. On the other, he is perhaps too close to his subject to dig deep. He functions more as protector than as provocateur.