Friday, July 11, 2008

Pg. 99: Judith Nies' "The Girl I Left Behind"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: The Girl I Left Behind: A Narrative History of the Sixties by Judith Nies.

About the book, from the publisher:
At the height of the Vietnam War protests, twenty-eight-year-old Judith Nies and her husband lived a seemingly idyllic life. Both were building their respective careers in Washington—Nies as the speechwriter and chief staffer to a core group of antiwar congressmen, her husband as a Treasury department economist. They lived in the carriage house of the famed Marjorie Merriweather Post estate. But when her husband brought home a list of questions from an FBI file with Judith's name on the front, Nies soon realized that her life was about to take a radical turn. Shocked to find herself the focus of an FBI investigation into her political activities, Nies began to reevaluate her role as grateful employee and dutiful wife. In The Girl I Left Behind, she chronicles the experiences of those women who, like herself, reinvented their lives in the midst of a wildly shifting social and political landscape.

In a fresh, candid look at the 1960s, Nies pairs illuminating descriptions of feminist leaders, women's liberation protests, and other pivotal social developments with the story of her own transformation into a staunch activist and writer. From exposing institutionalized sexism on Capitol Hill in her first published article to orchestrating the removal of a separate "Ladies Gallery" on the House floor to taking leadership of the Women in Fellowships Committee, Nies discusses her own efforts to enlarge women's choices and to change the workplace—and how the repercussions of those efforts in the sixties can still be felt today.

A heartfelt memoir and piercing social commentary, The Girl I Left Behind recounts one woman's courageous journey toward independence and equality. It also evaluates the consequences of the feminist movement on the same women who made it happen—and on the daughters born in their wake.
Among the early praise for the book:
"Nies’ combination period history and memoir is a highly valuable first-person record of a woman who finds herself, and the movement she grew with."
Publishers Weekly

"Refreshingly candid. . . . Nies’ personal take on the ripple effects of the women’s movement—both on those involved directly and those who followed—is honest and engaging."

"An important book. I know of no book like it."
—Jill Ker Conway

"Educational and entertaining."
Kirkus Reviews

“A dense and energetic public and private history [for our] ambitious daughters who have no idea how recent ancient history can be."
Boston Globe

"The life experiences she relates so freshly (including political parallels to this era’s war) make this book captivating for students of the political and cultural history of the Sixties. Highly recommended…”
Library Journal
Read an excerpt from The Girl I Left Behind, and learn more about the author and her work at Judith Nies' website.

Judith Nies has worked as a journalist, teacher, historian, researcher, and speechwriter, and is the author of several books, including Nine Women: Portraits from the American Radical Tradition. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, Ms., the Harvard Review, and other publications. She teaches writing at Massachusetts College of Art and is a member of PEN America.

The Page 99 Test: The Girl I Left Behind.

--Marshal Zeringue