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Cupcakes and Kalashnikovs

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100 years of the best journalism by women.

364 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2005

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5 stars
111 (28%)
4 stars
169 (44%)
3 stars
90 (23%)
2 stars
11 (2%)
1 star
2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews
Profile Image for Zanna.
676 reviews967 followers
October 28, 2019
"Most of the world's great newspapers were established in the middle of the nineteenth century - or even before. In America the New York Times was established in 1861, in Britain The Times started to thunder in 1785 with the Observer and Sunday Times with even the tabloids such as the News of the World and the People coming on stream by 1881..."

The introduction has not noticed that 'America' (meaning the USA, clearly) and Britain are not the world. Surely a collection of journalism in English will be inevitably confined to the English speaking world? Well, yes, I grant that, but the English-speaking world also includes formerly colonised places such as India, parts of the Caribbean, Canada, Kenya, Nigeria, Australia, Ireland and more. The first sentence is mismatched with the second.

This ethnocentric prelude rather sets the tone for a collection of articles mostly drawn from British and US-based newspapers and magazines, mostly by middle class heterosexual cis white women. Again, I ought not to blame the editors for this; middle class white women's voices are the ones that have been (grudgingly and gradually) welcomed into the white man media of the US/UK. The fact that this book has not particularly set out to look outside the mainstream is probably an unfair criticism; I just wish there were a little more acknowledgement of the wider world.

Mills has made some effort to provide voices on opposing sides of some issues such as abortion (India Knight sort-of-vs Alice Walker, whose Right to Life is unanswerably powerful) and to include black women writing about race - Audre Lorde and June Jordan, as well as Walker, contribute outstanding pieces. I see an aim for political balance: two articles by anarchist Emma Goldman are featured, as is Susan Sontag's superb essay on the abuse of Iraqi prisoners of war at Abu Ghraib, Regarding the Torture of Others . In opposition to this, there are lots of unremarkable conservative little pieces on all sorts of topics.

On gender, we have Jilly Cooper and Zelda Fitzgerald being repellantly regressive. Erica Jong contributes an essay, The Post-feminist Woman - is she Perhaps More Oppressed than Ever? on the burden of having it all (from a position of overwhelming privilege - the proportion of women in similar situations must be miniscule) that does make some good points and helpfully states: "the basic structures of our society are hostile to women and children", which ends by sounding the alarm that children are not getting enough parental care in the 'post-feminist' situation of the two-working-parent family. The final sentence is "What is at stake is nothing more and nothing less than the future of our kids." What? I thought this article was about the oppression of women? Are we less human than our children then? Elsewhere, Jong's portrait of Hilary Clinton, held to impossible standards and scapegoated for her husband's transgressions, is the best 'celebrity' piece in this collection. Perhaps most depressingly, there is not a single mention of LGBTQIA/GRSM issues.

Feminism makes rather a mild showing. Djuna Barnes' description of being force-fed is excruciating and unassailable, and Sylvia Pankhurst's piece on the need for suffragettes to call for universal suffrage, rather than parity for women with men, who had to meet property criteria to vote speaks, reveals some of the roots of the second wave. Other attacks on the patriarchy are pretty tame. Perhaps it's instructive that the contribution from radical feminist Andrea Dworkin is uncontroversial: about the agony she suffered from arthritis. Rose George's piece on gang rape is shocking and vital reading, and Judy Syfers satirical classic Why I want a Wife with its message that nobody has a right to the unpaid joyful tireless service of another, still rings from the rooftops. Crystal Eastman's 1927 essay on her inspiring mother is very moving, and Jill Tweedie's essay on the 'right to be ugly' seems progressive for 1970.

There are some excellent reports on war and justice issues. Martha Gellhorn's report from Dachau is incredible, and her piece on witnessing a lynching Justice at Night, despite the ridiculous title, is equally affecting. Anne Tyler stands out stylistically with a really original piece on local government corruption. I'll look out for her work in future.

Another person who redeems this book somewhat is Angela Carter, who is mercifully featured twice. The first piece of hers felt like reaching an island after a long swim through the exceptionally white, wealthy and western 'Home and Family' section. At last a woman conscious of her privilege, aware of her oppression, and fired with both righteous anger at injustice and passionate empathy for others! I vowed to read every word she ever wrote.

What with Carter, Lorde, Gellhorn, Walker and other greats, I might have given this book four stars, despite its failings, if it weren't for the final section 'Interviews and Icons', which contains every bigoted ism I can think of, and ends with Julie Burchill confessing her secret admiration for Margaret Thatcher, which is every bit as vomit-inducing as it sounds.

I only hope that the next hundred years' women writers are a little more diverse
Profile Image for Kathryn Bashaar.
Author 2 books91 followers
January 18, 2014
Really liked these essays by woman journalists going back as far as the early 20th century. Some of my favorites were on the topics of birth control and abortion - somewhat surprisingly, since I am past the stage of life when those issues are personal to me. I passionately support birth control, so I loved Emma Goldman's 1916 essay on the topic. Hard to believe that birth control was still illegal that recently! On abortion, I am much more ambivalent. I liked India Knight's "Thank God I Let My Baby Live." Even better, though, was Alice Walker's "The Right to Life: what can the White Man say to the Black Woman." I don't agree with every word she said, but the piece is very impassioned and makes a good fundamental point: Why do middle-aged white men care so passionately about little black fetuses, and so little about already-born little black children?
I'm not a big Joan Didion fan, but I also liked her 1961 essay "On Self-respect" and I loved Judy Syfers' 1971 "Why I Want a Wife."
50 reviews
April 3, 2018
This book is a great book about a number of journals women from the 1915, to 1971. Each journalist have there own 1 to 3 page section of there early life, to career, and legacy. Women in the journalism field have a hard time getting the proper work that they are seeking for. Although things have changed from different movements such as the Revolt movement when still today in the journalistic world face problems like being be little by men because they are women, having jobs that don't match there degree. These women faced a lot of feminism stereotyping and judgement from men who feel that they can do a better job then women. Each of these women in this book was strong and a few of the women in the book that I found interesting was Alice Walker who wrote articles about her ancestors, the torture and hate that they had gone through. Also Joreen Freeman, I liked her section a lot the word "Bitch" is used a lot towards women and she intact took control in the word and turned it into a great word when referring to a women. Joreen is very strong and out spoken and I like that very much about her.
The litter of this book was a graphic there are hundreds stories from these women from the things that they have done to the things that this is an adult book.
I gave this book 5 stars because I love reading about women history, especially African American history.
Profile Image for Jane.
2,681 reviews52 followers
April 17, 2018
Great title, and some wonderful pieces in this smorgasbord of a book. Subjects range from having a baby at age forty to front-line war reports. Martha Gellhorn was a big reveal for me. Her piece on visiting Dachau was utterly appalling, completely brilliant. And Lynn Barber's eviscerating interview with Marianne Faithfull is laugh-out-loud funny.
Profile Image for Iris Pea.
8 reviews2 followers
February 27, 2021
Some of the most influential, controversial and entertaining work of women journalists writing in English. A good anthology that explains well why women or ‘the other’ can always bring a fresh voice and perspective to news or issues we’ve read about a million times.
Favourite opening sentence: ‘The day I got out of hospital after having my first baby I went out for tea with an evil dictator’.
Profile Image for Athena Macmillan.
297 reviews27 followers
December 11, 2018
A brilliant selection of journalistic essays written by women over the past 100 years. A wide selection, some empathetic, others humorous and many still relevant today even though they were written decades ago. An excellent read that you can take your time with.
Profile Image for Emily Young.
13 reviews1 follower
August 17, 2023
A book full of journals written by inspiring women - what more could you want?! Touching upon very important topics such as birth control and abortion and the perspectives on these topics dating back as far as WW1 - I really enjoyed it and would recommend :)
Profile Image for Sarah Gardyne.
81 reviews
November 7, 2021
Such a great view if history and so many great writers. It has been put together in such a careful way and was moving to read.
Profile Image for Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere).
194 reviews41 followers
Shelved as 'owned-and-waiting-to-be-read'
February 21, 2013
Emma Goldman - The Promoters of the War Mania (March 1917)
Nancy Cunard - Report from the Spanish Civil War (9 Feb 1939)
Helen Kirkpatrick - On Surviving the London Blitz (9 Sept 1940)
Martha Gellhorn - Dachau (1945)
Marguerite Higgins - On the American Invasion of Inchon, Korea (18 Sept 1950)
Mary McCarthy - Report from VietnamL I. The Home Program (20 Apr 1967)
Julie Flint - Mountainsides of Hell (14 Apr 1991)
Susan Sontag - Regarding the Torture of Others (23 May 2004)

Home & Family
Evelyn Sharp - The Rebel on the Hearth (4 Mar 1924)
Crystal Eastman - Mother-worship (16 Mar 1927)
Maddy Vegtel - Forty - when the Baby was Born (1930s)
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings - I Sing While I Cook (1930s)
Eleanor Roosevelt - My Day (11 Nov 1938)
Daphne Du Maurier - Letter Writing in Wartime (Sept 1940)
Mary Stott - Learning to be a Widow (27 July 1968)
Angela Carter - Notes from a Maternity Ward (Dec 1983)
Ruth Picardie - Before I Say Goodbye (24 Aug 1997)
Danielle Crittenden - AmandaBright@home (25 May 2001)
Sarah Baxter - My Brave, Wounded New World (11 Nov 2001)
India Knight - Thank God I Let my Baby Live (25 Apr 2004)

Politics, Race & Society
Nellie Bly - Ten Days in a Madhouse (1888)
Mary Heaton Vorse - The War in Passaic (17 Mar 1926)
Audre Lorde - That Summer I Left Childhood was White (1982)
Nancy Mitford - The English Aristocracy (Sept 1955)
Elizabeth Drew - A Watergate Diary (Aug 1973)
Alice Walker - The Right to Life: what can the White Man...Say to the Black Woman? (22 May 1989)
Ann Leslie - Report on the Fall of the Berlin Wall (1989)
Erica Jong - Hillary's Husband Re-elected: the Clinton Marriage of Politics and Power (25 Nov 1996)
Barbara Ehrenreich - Nickel-and-Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (Jan 1999)
Eleanor Mills - Putting Her Best Face on a Murky Business (10 Oct 1999)
Melanie Phillips - Everybody Wins, and All Must Have Prizes (22 Sept 2003)
Marie Colvin - The Arafat I Knew (14 Nov 2004)

Emancipation & Having It All
Djuna Barnes - How it Feels to be Forcibly Fed (6 Sept 1914)
Sylvia Pankhurst - Human Suffrage (18 Dec 1915)
Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick - Should Married Women Work? (1924)
Mary Stott - Women Talking to Men (15 Oct 1964)
Joreen Freeman - The BITCH Manifesto (1971)
Judy Syfers - Why I want a Wife (Dec 1971)
Betty Friedan - The Women at Houston (10 Dec 1977)
Erica Jong - The Post-feminist Woman - is she Perhaps More Oppressed Than Ever? (30 Dec 1984)
Pauline Kael - The Feminine Mystique (19 Oct 1987)
Naomi Wolf - Sex and the Sisters (20 July 2003)
Christina Lamb - My Double Life: Kalashnikovs and Cupcakes (23 Jan 2005)

Crime & Punishment
Martha Gellhorn - Justice at Night (Aug 1936)
Rebecca West - On the Nuremburg Trials (1946)
Rose Styron - Torture in Chile (20 March 1976)
Anne Tyler - Trouble in the Boys' Club (30 July 1977)
June Jordan - Can I get a Witness (12 Dec 1991)
Gitta Sereny - On the Murder of James Bulger (30 Jan 2000)
Nicci Gerrard - Holly and Jessica - we'll Never Know (21 Dec 2003)
Rose George - They don't See it as Rape, They Just See it as Pleasure for Them (5 June 2004)

Sex & Body Image
Emma Goldman - The Social Aspects of Birth Control (April 1916)
Gladys Hall - interviews Tallulah Bankhead (Sept 1932)
Joan Didion - On Self-respect (1961)
Katharine Whitehorn - Sluts I (29 Dec 1963)
Jill Tweedie - Feminists and the Right to be Ugly (2 Feb 1970)
Jilly Cooper - If this is Sex, I'm Glad I'm English (1970s)
Angela Carter - Fat is Ugly (28 Nov 1974)
Erin Pizzey - Fabulously Fat (Feb 1980)
Helen Fielding - Bridget Jones's Diary (9 Aug 1995)
Andrea Dworkin - Through the Pain Barrier (23 April 2005)

Interviews & Icons
Zelda Fitzgerald - What Became of the Flappers? (Oct 1925)
Dorothy Parker - Poor, Immortal Isadora (14 Jan 1928)
Katherine Anne Porter - Jacqueline Kennedy (March 1964)
Catherine Stott - The Iron Butterfly: Helen Gurley Brown (11 April 1968)
Joan Didion - Georgia O'Keeffe (1979)
Camille Paglia - Diana Regina (3 Aug 1992)
Lesley White - Net Prophet (12 Nov 1995)
Lynn Barber - You Know, I'm Not Everybody's Cup of Tea! (15 July 2001)
Julie Burchill - Slimeballs Always Hate a Strong Woman (14 Oct 2004)

Profile Image for Amanda.
212 reviews7 followers
June 6, 2011
This book has a truly electic range of pieces ranging from war-front reports to in-depth profile pieces to humorous essays, showcasing the best women writers in every area of journalism. Today's most beloved women writers, from Erica Jong to Barbara Ehrenreich to Joan Didion, can all be found here, along with trail-blazing journalistas from the past, such as Emma Goldman and Nellie Bly. One of the things I appreciated most about the book was the relevance of pieces that I would have expected to be outdated. Alice Walker's 1989 piece, "What Can the White Man Say to the Black Woman?" fits startlingly well into the recent religious campaign against abortion that dubs it "black genocide," and Erica Jong's "The Post-feminist Woman — is she Perhaps More Oppressed than Ever?" from 1984 feels like it was written today. While many of the pieces are focused on what we call "women's issues" - such as motherhood, "a woman's place" and finding happiness as a single woman - the book also delves into harder journalistic territory, with chilling pieces on Nazi concentration camps, gang rape and kidnapping. While Eleanor Mills admits that compiling the absolute best stories by women journalists, for all time, and including everyone, is impossible, she comes pretty damn close here.
Profile Image for Kim Olson.
161 reviews3 followers
August 16, 2012
An important collection of women's writing--mostly American and British--that ranges from war reporting, to essays on social issues, to profiles. Some is journalism, some is not. Some pieces are brilliantly written, others not so much.

Some of the most compelling pieces are personal accounts of historic events. Embedded with US Marines in 1950, Marguerite Higgins tells of their harrowing amphibious landing at Inchon, Korea, under mortar fire. A pioneering Gonzo journalist, Djuna Barnes, having posed as a suffragist, describes how it feels to be force fed. And Martha Gellhorn tells of finding herself a witness to a lynching in the 1930s.

For a dash of spice, there's a nice scattering of opinion pieces, some quite gutsy (and prescient) for their time. And some of the profiles of well-knowns--Bill Gates and Margaret Thatcher, for instance--managed to tip my view.

The pieces were clearly curated to cover a range of events, issues, and styles, so it's quite a mish-mash, and there's nothing wrong with that. Lots of gems, a few duds.

Profile Image for Sara Pereira.
27 reviews23 followers
January 7, 2013
this is a must-read book. this collection of essays, all written by women is an eye-opening experience. reading stories written by women in the 1880s - who knes?!? - is amazing. i felt the feminist in me grow and i turned the pages.
the book is divided into areas of writing such as war, home and family, race, politics, sex to the emancipation of women. the stories range from the famous Nellie Bly's "Ten Days in a Madhouse" to Susan Sontag's "Regarding the Torture of Others".
different writting styles are reflected in different stories and perspectives, all written with a personal tone and all equally memorable.
a true delight to read. i think it took me close to 2 months to finish reading the book because i wanted to soak in all that these amazing women had to offer me. i liked it so much that i didn't even write the date on when i finished reading it on the back. hightly recommended.
Profile Image for Floramanda.
57 reviews11 followers
May 1, 2009
An interesting compilation of articles written by women over the last 100 years. Like any compilation, some were mediocre but some were really brilliant. Susan Sontag's article on torture and photography stood out in my mind as a particularly insightful look at our society and the images we now collect and share. Topics ranged from politics and war, to women's perceptions of body image, to our roles in society as wives and mothers. One article was written as the journalist entered Dachau just as it was liberated at the end of WWI. Another by a suffragette who was force fed as she held a hunger strike in protest women's inability to vote (yes, that was less than 100 years ago). On the lighter side, you could read an article on Jackie Kennedy or Hilary Clinton. But because the articles were excerpts, a few would end just as you were getting interested!
Profile Image for Courteney Fisher.
75 reviews19 followers
April 3, 2016
I had to read this book as part of my English A Level. I don't think I would have read it on my own but it's really changed my mind about journalism! This was an empowering book because it reminds me of female accomplishment. Some of the articles are funny, witty and fictional. Yet others are dark, factual and informative. One of the things I love about it is that there are many sections which means that it is accessible to lots of people. Whilst I didn't really care for the home section I found the Crime and punishment, sex and body image sections really interesting. It's the perfect book for anyone who wants to try journalism or has a passion for it. I think my favourite articles include: 'On the Murder of James Bulger'; 'Ten Days in a Madhouse'; and 'If This is Sex, I'm Glad I'm English'
Profile Image for Jennifer.
98 reviews26 followers
May 25, 2007
An excerpt from an Emma Goldman piece included in this inspiring collection of trail blazing female journalists:

"At this most critical moment it becomes imperative for every liberty loving person to voice a fiery protest against the participation of this country in the European mass murder. If the opponents of war, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, would immediately join their voices into a thunderous NO!, then the horror that now menaces America might yet be averted. Unfortuntately it is only too true that the people in our so-called Democracy are to a large extent a dumb, suffering herd rather than thinking beings who dare to give expression to a frank, earnest opinion."

Yowza. Replace 'European' with 'Iraqi' and this could have been written yesterday.
Profile Image for Marie Elena.
63 reviews4 followers
December 31, 2007
So much fun to go through and read pieces from some of the journalists I learned about in my journalism classes as well as many contemporary female writers. The pieces are grouped into category which makes it easy to read exactly what you're in the mood for. Each piece gives a bio of the author and the date it was written. My favorites were Nellie Bly's "Ten Days in a Madhouse" (1888), Ruth Picardie's "Before I Say Goodbye" (1997) and Joreen Freeman's "The BITCH Manifesto" (1978). They all left me wanting more, but this book was a good start. Putting all of these pieces into one easily accessible book was brilliant.
Profile Image for Reader.
58 reviews38 followers
March 10, 2009
A wonderful read from the start. Everypage is different from the next. These women are writer's doing what men did for so long. These women report from the was zone to crime to body images to interviews with celebrities and more. I found the interview about Bill Gates very interesting very interesting. These women became the top of there field doing what they do best.
Profile Image for Karen.
385 reviews
October 23, 2009
Turns out I don’t like Journalism articles, I should have known this. I much prefer essays of researched information. I did like several of the articles in the War; Politics, Race & Society; and Crime & Punishments sections as they held some information. But basically didn’t like any in the Home & Family; Emancipation; or Sex and Body Image sections. Interviews and Icons were just okay.
Profile Image for Emily.
122 reviews38 followers
June 17, 2015
I think this book is too British-and-American-focused. Are there really no women reporters in Canada or Australia or in other countries with English-language newspapers that wrote excellent articles? Also, the editor included one of her own pieces in the book, which seems a bit presumptuous to me. I liked the material a lot, but the narrow scope bothered me.
Profile Image for Dbook.
28 reviews
August 1, 2014
An interesting and diverse collection of writing. The editors have chosen writers from all ends of the political spectrum. Some pieces left me thing 'why?' whereas others were provoking and fascinating especially from a time perspective. It is amazing how writing about women's rights over a hundred years ago wasn't much different from today. We haven't come as far as we think.
Profile Image for Annie.
10 reviews1 follower
April 13, 2009
Disappointing. With a few rare exceptions, the articles seemed to have been selected, not as compelling examples of journalism, but as essays on the token social issues of a century. I guess I expected the main criteria to be exceptional writing and reporting.
Profile Image for Sonie.
26 reviews1 follower
August 3, 2009
This book is a great read and is not only for aspiring female journalists. The book has great stories on a variety of life topics, from work-family balance to relationships with family and friends to career advice and more.
Profile Image for Nicki.
1,319 reviews
December 5, 2012
Fabulous book full of accounts by women journalists from all over the world. I remember that there are some particularly harrowing accounts from the end of second world war and during segregation in America too. Definitely worth reading.
Profile Image for Seonaid.
121 reviews2 followers
April 3, 2015
A great collection of articles by some amazing writers - from war-front reporting to showbiz interviews, it covers a great deal. Some of my favourites are in here too (Angela Carter!) and some are remarkable in their prescience or relatable content.
Profile Image for Kira Joy.
7 reviews
June 12, 2007
Just some of the most amazing reporting from some of the most amazing women in the field.
Profile Image for Melissa.
72 reviews4 followers
June 26, 2008
This book is really cool. All kinds of facinating topics covered by fascinating women.
407 reviews24 followers
July 6, 2010
A decent collection, but why so many Brits? Didn't American women add much to the world of journalism, or what?
Profile Image for Lory.
10 reviews17 followers
July 18, 2013
I tip my hat to Miss Mills for attempting to collate the often-overlooked-highly criticised pieces of female journalism.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 34 reviews

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