Bella Abzug: A Real Broad

Bella Abzug is a political and feminist icon. Not just among her New York City constituents whom she  represented in the 1970’s, but the world over. Bella was a true politician, unlike many of those who are in the government today. She meant what she said and said what she meant. She stood behind her convictions, even if they made her unpopular.

The 2008 biography by Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom, Bella Abzug: How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Pissed Off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and … Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way, is not the standard biography.

Born in 1920 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Bella Abzug (nee Savitsky) was a born fighter. Her first brush with feminism when was her father died when she was a young girl. Traditional Judaism dictates that a son should say kaddish (prayers for mourning) for his father. But Bella, the youngest of two girls, had no brothers. So she said kaddish for her father.

Most biographies have a typical cut and dry style. The person profiled was born on this date, accomplished x,y and z during their lifetime and died on this date.  But not this biography. What I enjoy about this book is that instead of being just another impersonal and historical biography, is the interviews. Not just with the subject herself, but with the those who knew her best. Her family, her friends, her colleagues. I feel like, as a reader, that even though I never met her, that I knew who she was, as a human being, warts and all.

I recommend this book.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, New York City

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