Book Review

My Life on the Road – Gloria Steinem

Firstly apologies for the delay. Reviews should be more frequent from now on, but every one has a lapse when life gets a little too busy.

This book is the first of the Shared Shelf book club, run by Emma Watson.

Gloria Steinem is a journalist, a social activist, lecturer, writer and has been present at many of the monumental events in the United States of America’s recent history. She was standing in the crowd at Martin Luther King’s speech in Washington, and was there for JFK’s final farewell to speech writer Ted Sorensen before his fateful trip to Dallas.

The delight of this book caused me to re-read it before I could even think of writing a word about the knowledge it imparts on readers. Steinem obviously has a fluent and intellectual style of writing, built through her career as a journalist and from her experiences in the world, but she combines this mastery of words with beautifully emotive language that brings us into each and every event in her life.

When I first picked up this book, I expected a rather chronological narrative of trips across the world and around the United States. I was surprised instead by a collection of tales detailing her role and the role of many others in the rise of equal rights in America.

Living out of boxes for most of her life, Steinem grew up with a father who would have rather lived in his car, then settle in a house with his wife and children. Although she has written about her father in previous works, this is the first time she has gone into such detail of how his travelling ways brought her to live the lifestyle in her own way. Calling herself a “wandering organiser”, Steinem explains how it has shaped the way she sees the world and brought warmth to her anecdotes of harassed flight attendants learning to stand up for themselves, and taxi drivers experience all walks of life through their passengers,

It becomes a diary for the women’s movement in America and follows Steinem’s many contributions to efforts from women all of the country, in all manners of home, relationships and ideals to bring equality to women. A campaigner for McCarthy and Hilary Clinton it also delves into her politics and the decision to campaign for Clinton over Obama. Full of anecdotes and soundbite quotes surely soon to be seen printed on canvasses in the homes of readers across the world she shows the willpower that influenced so many men and women, in every sentence.

“If you find yourself drawn to an event against all logic, go. The universe is telling you something.

In this way and many others, Steinem is telling us “yes we can”, and by her acknowledgement of all the fears she faces and all the flaws she has, she gives us hope that anything we decide to do can make a difference too.

Certainly not a tell-all of her life, little of her personal life is involved. Steinem grasps the theme of travel with both hands and runs with it resulting in extraordinary writing but a lack of personal depth overall.

Confronting, thought-provoking and full of passion, this book is an inspiration to those who wish to be part of something bigger.

 

 

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