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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'must read' biography with a contemporary twist, 12 Aug 2011
This review is from: First Lady of Fleet Street: A Biography of Rachel Beer (Hardcover)
This superb biography - if it weren't factual it could almost be a sequel to Trollope's, The Way We Live Now - is a gripping account of one of the most extraordinary and powerful women of the last century and a half, Rachel Beer, the first, and only (!), female editor of The Times and The Observer. Her trailblazing example, her espousal of ethical causes - the Dreyfus affair to name just one - and her championing of women's rights give her heroic stature. What makes it crucially pertinent for us today is the invidious comparison of Rachel Beer with those morally and intellectually diminished (and most shamefully, women) editors who followed her.

The trajectory of incandescence that her brief career afforded was cut tragically short in the first years of the 20th century when she had a breakdown following the death of her husband. Familial pressure and medical incompetence conspired to have her declared insane, removing from her those rights and freedoms that she had fought so hard to give others.

The First Lady of Fleet Street also brilliantly illuminates a period that bridged the late 19th and early 20th centuries, where British culture flowered with the benificence and genius of newly immigrant Jewish communities. The authors have created a source book for any researcher examining the social history of British media of the late Victorian era. It offers an acerbic perspective of a flawed and hypocritical society. It is also a tragic history of Rachel Beer's family, the Sassoons, who cruelly disowned her on her marriage to Frederick Beer and her subsequent conversion to Anglicanism. With forebears in Baghdad that grew wealthy from the sale of opium to their astonishing assimilation into British society the Sassoons enjoyed a privileged existence. As an ironic footnote Rachel's nephew, Siegfried Sassoon, one of the most quintessentially British of writers, emerges as a cynical and self-aggrandizing individual.

Poignantly, as I write, Rupert Murdoch is on television floundering under the questions of a government select committee. The seeds of his humiliation are identified in the analysis of the endemic corruption and nepotism of 20th century British corporate society brought to light by Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren. The First Lady of Fleet Street, therefore has enormous contemporary relevance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Lady of Fleet Street, 26 April 2012
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This review is from: First Lady of Fleet Street: A Biography of Rachel Beer (Hardcover)
It is absolutely tragic that a woman (who contributed so much to the British Newspaper industry) was vilified, by some of her contemporaries, for her jewish ancestry and sex.

From the social class constraints to the professional obstacles she managed to overcome, Rachel Beer's journalistic and musical gifts shone.

Both Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren (authors of the book) have done an excellent job of detailing her extraordinary life.

A brilliant, inspiring read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Women, 22 Jan 2012
This review is from: First Lady of Fleet Street: A Biography of Rachel Beer (Hardcover)
This is a must have book since it gives a lot of details about the life and times, and politics in Victorian England. Much of it is relevant today. Rachel Beer has been mostly forgotten. A sad story about an exceptional women well ahead of her time. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
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First Lady of Fleet Street: A Biography of Rachel Beer
First Lady of Fleet Street: A Biography of Rachel Beer by Eilat Negev (Hardcover - 24 April 2011)
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