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Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History


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About the Author

LAUREL THATCHER ULRICH was born in Sugar City, Idaho. She holds degrees from the University of New Hampshire, University of Utah, and Simmons College. She is 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University and past president of the American Historical Association. As a MacArthur Fellow, Ulrich worked on the PBS documentary based on her Pulitzer Prize-winning book A Midwife's Tale. Her work is also featured on an award-winning website called dohistory.org. She is immediate past president of the Mormon History Association. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Harvard professor Ulrich expands on a remark she famously made in 1976, reiterated in her title. With an eight-city tour. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

In 1976, graduate student Ulrich asserted in an obscure scholarly article that "well-behaved women seldom make history." But Ulrich, now at Harvard, made history, winning the Pulitzer and the Bancroft Prizes for A Midwife's Tale-and her slogan did, too: it began popping up on T-shirts, greeting cards and buttons. Why the appeal, Ulrich wondered? And what makes a woman qualify as well-behaved or rebellious? Several chapters of this accessible and beautifully written study are brilliant. In one, Ulrich follows the lead of Virginia Woolf (who invented an ill-fated fictional sister of Shakespeare) by digging into what we know-and don't know-about the women in the Bard's family. In another, she offers a piercing analysis of "four 19th-century Harriets"-ex-slaves Tubman, Jacobs and Powell, and novelist Stowe-to uncover the interplay of race and gender in questions of liberation. And in a third, richly illustrated chapter, she utilizes a medieval book of days as a window into women's labor through the ages. If other chapters, such as a wide-ranging exploration of the Amazon myth and a rumination on second-wave feminism, don't cohere as tightly or showcase Ulrich's strengths as an extraordinary interpreter of ordinary records, this can be forgiven in a work that is so often sharp and insightful. 26 illus. (Sept. 7) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

A bravura performance. . . . Ulrich is brilliant here. . . . Few have done as much to so profoundly enrich and enlarge our vision of the past. --The Boston Globe The book is a pleasure to read. . . . Ulrich's style is plain and direct. --The Washington Post Book World Ulrich writes with deep insight and humor about subjects that touch our daily lives. --The Washington Times

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