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Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women's Changing Lives Paperback – 8 Feb 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 297 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books; Reprint edition (8 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679758887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679758884
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.2 x 2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 693,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 17 reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Every woman should read this 18 July 2005
By A. Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am not the author's friend, nor do I know the author. This is a true and unbiased opinion on this book.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way (I am always wary of five star reviews myself), I just have to say that this is a great book. I first bought the book thinking it was a book on teaching woman how to be more ambitious. I am a pretty passive person in general. I lack drive and motivation, but have big dreams for myself. Yep, I'm also pretty lazy. So I was looking for a book to jumpstart my psyche so I can go out there and get what I want. Well, I didn't get that from this book. What I got was an eye-opening experience on why woman do the things they do, what drives them to do it, and a brief history of women's accomplishments and hardships through the centuries. I could not put this book down. While reading, I felt compassion, anger, hope, devastation, and a slew of other emotions that I haven't felt in a long time. I was finally understanding why I do the things that I do, why I defer to men all the time and let some of them run my life. This is a deeply psychological book, and the way it is written reminds me of a professional research paper. What I'm saying is, you really have to follow closely and pay attention to get the most out of it. It is definitely for the serious reader. So please, whether you are a woman or a man, you will benefit much from reading this fine work.
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, but More -- Wise 6 May 2004
By Katha Pollitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
How many women do you know who have a hard time claiming their own path and fulfilling their gifts? Who do all the work and let others take the credit? Anti-feminists argue that women lack ambition and drive, or care more, in the end, about taking care of their families. Drawing on a wealth of new research and her own psychiatric practice, Fels argues that ambition is social: women, like men, need positive reinforcement from others for their work (praise, attention, appreciation, reward, advancement), but, unlike men, are discouraged in many ways from seeking it, or even acknowledging its importance.
Not a self help book -- there are no Ten Steps to a Better You in these pages --Necessary Dreams will help you think about your life in new and maybe surprising ways. It's the perfect answer to the ongoing backlash against feminism that has done so much to make women feel guilty for wanting things men take for granted. The writing is a joy, too--clear, trenchant, and witty.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Is ambition the dirtiest word in a woman's vocubulary? 15 April 2004
By Martha H. Garvey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Fels has managed to do several extraordinary things within the covers of this book. She has, first and foremost, told a great, if sometimes disheartening, story: the saga of middle class American women as the fourth generation of feminism is about to be born. Why does "ambition" remain a dirty word for so many glorious, accomplished women? What are the subtle, and not so subtle, cues in our culture that seem to dampen women's desire to be and do more? Why do mentors mean so much, and what happens when they disappear? Why did Madonna have such a damn big wedding, while Oprah bragged about having no wedding at all? This book provides the answers in beautifully written prose, and also functions, as the best therapy does, as a kind of catalyst for change.
It's also the rare scholarly psych book that's also...very funny. Fels' two-page takedown of John Gray's tired (and wildly flawed!) Mars/Venus formula will make you laugh...while you wince. Women of the Western world, read this book: you're not crazy, but you are tired and suffering from a kind of low-grade, ambition-sapping flu. This book provides a healing balm...and a bracing wakeup call.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Made me angry, made me cry, made me determined 4 Feb 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Others have already given great reviews of this book - I just wanted to share how validating this book is to someone who is working up the ladder. Fels backs up her insights with clear, irrefutable evidence - her explanation of the "spelling bee" study has helped me to convey precisely how antagonistic our culture is to a woman "taking" recognition from a man.

This book is not about male-bashing; it's about seeing the ways in which our society (male and female) consistently discourages women from seeking recognition for their achievements - and ultimately from achieving anything at all. While Fels offers some guidance on how to correct the imbalance, I wish there were a clearer path laid out. I suppose that's up to us to figure out.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The next great book in the woman's movement 14 May 2004
By Kate Snow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Necessary Dreams" is quite simply the next book in this progression: "The Second Sex," "The Feminine Mystique," and "Necessary Dreams." Fels distills the past to its essence and elucidates what must happen in the future if women and men are ever to be equals, and she does all this in less than 300 pages. It is written in a straight-forward and eminently readable style with no scapegoats. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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