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Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety - Hardcover

 
9781573223041: Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety
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An exploration of the world of modern motherhood describes the author's early parenting experiences in Paris and how they contrasted with anxiety-marked parenting expectations in the United States, drawing on mainstream media sources to identify what is shaping American cultural assumptions about parenting. By the author of Hilary Clinton: The Inside Story. 35,000 first printing.

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Review:
The old adage is especially true for Perfect Madness: don't judge this eminently readable book by its stern and academic-looking cover. Judith Warner's missive on the "Mommy Mystique" can be read in a weekend, if readers have the time. Of course--according to the book--many would-be readers will have to carve out the hours in between an endless sea of child-enriching activities, a soul-sucking swirl that leads many mothers into a well of despair. Warner's book seeks to answer the question, "Why are today's young mothers so stressed out?" Whether shuttling kids to "enriching" after-school activities or worrying about the quality of available child care, the women of Perfect Madness describe a life far out of balance. Warner spends most of the book explaining how things got to this point, and what can be done to restore some sanity to the parenting process.

Warner draws her research from a group of 20- to 40-year-old, upper-middle-class, college-educated women living in the East Coast corridor. In other words, mirror images of Warner herself. Her limited scope has caused controversy and criticism, as have some of her more sweeping statements. (For example, Warner blames second-wave feminism--rather than corporate culture--for the many limitations women still experience as they try to balance the work-family dynamic.) Other favorite targets include the mainstream media, detached fathers, and controlling, "hyperactive" mothers who create impossible standards for themselves, their children, and the community of other parents around them. Warner begins and ends the book with a compelling argument for the need for more societal support of mothers--quality-of-life government "entitlements" such as those found in France. It's these big-picture issues that will provide the solution, she says, even if most mothers don't want to discuss them because they consider the topic "tacky, strident-sounding, not the point." In these sections on governmental policy, and also when she steps back, encouraging women to be kinder to each other, the author's warmth comes across easily on the page. Pilloried by some readers and supported by others, Warner should at least be applauded for opening up the Pandora's Box of American motherhood for a new generation. And if readers are of two minds about the issues raised Perfect Madness, as Warner sometimes seems to be herself, it's a fitting reaction to a topic with few easy answers. --Jennifer Buckendorff END

About the Author:
Judith Warner writes about women's issues and politics for The New Republic and Elle magazine. She is the author of Hillary Clinton: The Inside Story and coauthor of books about Grace Mirabella and Newt Gingrich. A former special correspondent for Newsweek in Paris, Warner lives with her husband and their two small children.

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  • PublisherRiverhead Hardcover
  • Publication date2005
  • ISBN 10 1573223042
  • ISBN 13 9781573223041
  • BindingHardcover
  • Edition number1
  • Number of pages336
  • Rating

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