OVERRIDE

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 Workers, Rallied Against War and for the Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way

Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

"I've been described as a tough and noisy woman, a prize fighter, a man-hater, you name it. They call me Battling Bella, Mother Courage, and a Jewish mother with more complaints than Portnoy. There are those who say I'm impatient, impetuous, uppity, rude, profane, brash, and overbearing. Whether I'm any of those things, or all of them, you can decide for yourself. But whatever I am--and this ought to made very clear--I am a very serious woman."
 
For more than fifty years, Bella Abzug championed the powerless and disenfranchised, as an activist, congresswoman, and leader in every major social initiative of her time--from Zionism and labor in the 40s to the ban-the-bomb efforts in the 50s, to civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War movements of the 60s, to the women's movement in the 70s and 80s, to enviromnemtal awareness and economic equality in the 90s. Her political idealism never waning, Abzug gave her final public speech before the U.N. in March 1998, just a few weeks before her death. Presented in the voices of both friends and foes, of those who knew, fought with, revered, and struggled alongside her, this oral biography will be the first comprehensive account of a woman who was one of our most influential leaders.

"I've been described as a tough and noisy woman, a prize fighter, a man-hater, you name it. They call me Battling Bella, Mother Courage, and a Jewish mother with more complaints than Portnoy. There are those who say I'm impatient, impetuous, uppity, rude, profane, brash, and overbearing. Whether I'm any of those things, or all of them, you can decide for yourself. But whatever I am--and this ought to made very clear--I am a very serious woman." For more than fifty years, Bella Abzug championed the powerless and disenfranchised, as an activist, congresswoman, and leader in every major social initiative of her time--from Zionism and labor in the 40s to the ban-the-bomb efforts in the 50s, to civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War movements of the 60s, to the women's movement in the 70s and 80s, to enviromnemtal awareness and economic equality in the 90s. Her political idealism never waning, Abzug gave her final public speech before the U.N. in March 1998, just a few weeks before her death. Presented in the voices of both friends and foes, of those who knew, fought with, revered, and struggled alongside her, this oral biography will be the first comprehensive account of a woman who was one of our most influential leaders.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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Bella Abzug
1The Early Years: A Passion for Social JusticeChronology 
 
My parents had the foresight to give birth to me in the year that women got the vote. I was born July 24, 1920, in a South Bronx apartment on Hoe Avenue. All the rooms were on one side of a hall that ran the length of the apartment. Mama and Papa shared a room, as did my grandparents (on Mama's side). Uncle Julius, the youngest of Grandpa's four sons, had a room. He lived with us until he married my gorgeous Aunt Janet. I think I slept in my parents' room. My sister, Helene, slept on the couch.Papa was a
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  • Rosie O'Donnell on Bella Abzug at Nat'l Women's Conference

    Rosie O'Donnell talks to teenagers at the National Women's Conference, organized by Bella Abzug's daughter Liz. She enthusiastically recommends Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom's oral history, 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 Workers, Rallied Against War and for the Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way.

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REVIEWS

Praise for Bella Abzug

"This is like being a fly on the wall for some of the most important moments in political history over the past fifty years. Being a part of this conversation makes you not just appreciate Bella's fierceness, but want to emulate it. "                       —MANIFESTA co-author and former Bella colleague, Amy Richards

"Bella was a radical, patriotic and passionate about transforming the system—with the courage to work from outside and the patience to work from inside. Like her life, this book radiates drama, humor, tactical brilliance-- and heart. Bella mattered. So does this book."   —Jane Fonda

"The authors have captured one of the most principled, vibrant figures of the twentieth century in this equally unique oral history. It seems fitting that an inimitable and influential maverick such as Bella Abzug would find her life recounted in a book brave enough to include the voices of family, friends, and foes."—Ashley Judd

"Stumped about what to do in this messed up world? Just get to know Bella Abzug, one of the most important activists of the twentieth century. By gathering the reminiscences of people who lived their personal and political lives right along with her—and sometimes had the courage to break the rules alongside her too—the authors have created a memoir in many voices that captures the suspense, humor, and contradictions of this great woman. Read this book and then ask yourself, What would Bella do?"—Gloria Steinem

"Bella Abzug didn't vet her opinions through consultants and polls. She wasn't a highly orchestrated pre-fab candidate sprung from a well-oiled multi-million dollar corporate machine. She was the real deal. Pro peace, pro worker, pro women. Angry, authentic, grassroots, alienating and alive. And, she actually got elected. This book is a call to all of us, but particularly those in government to run and lead through their own moral steam rather than blowing more hot air.  —Eve Ensler

"Bella Abzug is an important, inspiring piece of history. There's nothing we need more right now that this kind of cogent reminder of what it takes to make change in the halls of power—and what's at stake if we don't.  —Lisa Jervis, co-founder Bitch magazine

"This is like being a fly on the wall for some of the most important moments in political history over the past fifty years. Being a part of this conversation makes you not just appreciate Bella's fierceness, but want to emulate it. "                       —MANIFESTA co-author and former Bella colleague, Amy Richards

"Bella was a radical, patriotic and passionate about transforming the system—with the courage to work from outside and the patience to work from inside. Like her life, this book radiates drama, humor, tactical brilliance-- and heart. Bella mattered. So does this book."   —Jane Fonda

"The authors have captured one of the most principled, vibrant figures of the twentieth century in this equally unique oral history. It seems fitting that an inimitable and influential maverick such as Bella Abzug would find her life recounted in a book brave enough to include the voices of family, friends, and foes."—Ashley Judd

"Stumped about what to do in this messed up world? Just get to know Bella Abzug, one of the most important activists of the twentieth century. By gathering the reminiscences of people who lived their personal and political lives right along with her—and sometimes had the courage to break the rules alongside her too—the authors have created a memoir in many voices that captures the suspense, humor, and contradictions of this great woman. Read this book and then ask yourself, What would Bella do?"—Gloria Steinem

"Bella Abzug didn't vet her opinions through consultants and polls. She wasn't a highly orchestrated pre-fab candidate sprung from a well-oiled multi-million dollar corporate machine. She was the real deal. Pro peace, pro worker, pro women. Angry, authentic, grassroots, alienating and alive. And, she actually got elected. This book is a call to all of us, but particularly those in government to run and lead through their own moral steam rather than blowing more hot air.  —Eve Ensler

"Bella Abzug is an important, inspiring piece of history. There's nothing we need more right now that this kind of cogent reminder of what it takes to make change in the halls of power—and what's at stake if we don't.  —Lisa Jervis, co-founder Bitch magazine

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom

  • Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom are both nationally recognized authorities on women's issues. Most recently, Levine is the author of Inventing the Rest of Lives and Thom is the author of Inside Ms.
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Available Formats and Book Details

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 Workers, Rallied Against War and for the Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way

Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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