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3.4 out of 5 stars
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3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 20 May 2012
In this fascinating book, Jessica Mann gives an account of what life was like for women in the 1950s. It makes for compelling reading and I can't imagine any woman, after having read this book, express a yearning to return to those days and be a "captive wife." It is hard for those of us born after the 1960s to imagine what it must have been like: limited educational and work opportunities, complete financial dependence upon your husband, the devastating consequences of a pregnancy outside of marriage and the eternal domestic grind without the labour saving devices we take for granted today are just some of the aspects which Mann covers.
I read this book with a mixture of fascination, horror and a heartfelt appreciation for the times I live in today. Highly recommended for women of all ages.
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on 5 May 2012
I was born just after the war and I am mortified to be reminded of the limited hygiene we took for granted! Jessica Mann's book is full of such reminders - and I have given copies to my adult children so they may have an insight into the life of their parents and grandparents.
While 'The Fifties Mystique' does highlight the incredible indignities that women took for granted in that decade and beyond, this does not mean that it is of interest only to ardent feminists. It is a very enjoyable read, well-researched and a reminder that all freedoms have to be won and protected.
Recommended for anyone who would like to learn, or be reminded about, everyday life and social behaviour in the post-war years - and to discover how far we have come.
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on 1 April 2012
This book tells the post-Feminist generation what it was really like in the fifties, why we needed Feminism so very badly, and why we must do everything in our power to protect it.
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on 3 May 2012
A real eye opener for those who take today's equality of the sexes very much as a given. Vivid descriptions of pre-machine drudgery and the boredom of the diurnal round, of the ignorance brought about by prudery- of how recently things were so very different, and less good, for women. A lovely read, in short chunks or as a whole. The author's voice comes across loud and clear and determined to correct nostalgic rose-tinted views of those bad old days.
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on 5 May 2012
Writer Jessica Mann -- previously best known for her literary journalism and crime novels -- takes a look back at what it was like to be a young woman in the 1950s. For those who look at the past through rose-tinted, Daily Mail style glasses this brilliant and compelling book will come as an eye opener. And for any men who really think that forcing your women to feign stupidity and helplessness is or was a good idea, even more so. If the past is another country, for women the 1950s was North Korea! Heartily recommended.
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on 25 January 2013
Oddly readable and entertaining? Yes I was not expecting this to be as absorbing or good fun to read. I think I was expecting a 'bang bang right on book for wummin', but Jessica Mann keeps popping out from behind the facts ( some of them actually very depressing when you look back) like some welcomed and amusing best friend sharing a secret, amply demonstrating a confidence and command of her thoughts and material. I originally bought this as a Christmas gift for my sister - and got sucked in from the opening paragraph. There is a lovely directness from the author which prevents all the detail about surveys and legislation drowning the narrative whilst still marshalling the facts - I like a book with 'voice' and I liked what I heard.
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on 9 July 2012
Jessica Mann's book is fascinating and everything she says so true. Born in the late Forties, I was lucky to be brought up on the other side of the pond in the late Fifties and Sixties. When I came to live in England in the Seventies, I found society here still suffocatingly repressive - I think the society reflected in the Fifties Mystique lasted a good bit longer than just that decade and the next. What Ms. Mann's book has helped me to understand is why my British relatives and in-laws, born in the twenties, were so full of old-fashioned incomprehensible prejudices and assumptions, they seemed to be stuck in a time-warp - I guess they couldn't help it, they just didn't know any better. I hope my daughter, born in the late nineties, continues to benefit from the enlightenment and hard-won freedom of choice the Baby-Boomers fought to get her, but no doubt about it, there's no guarantee, she could be experiencing an Emancipation Mystique and it might be her daughter next who wonders 'what happened?'.

Thank you, Ms. Mann.
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on 10 January 2016
Not bad quite an interesting book not read it all get keep going back to it. It's not a story just someone telling you how things were so you can delve in and out whenever really I was hoping for a persons life telling me about their life growing up in the fifties but its just facts really but I'll read it to the end because I'm interested in that era but the aurthor does write like it was an awful ere and not pleasant at all dosnt mention any advantages and I'm sure they were many like more respect less crime been able to rely on your neighbours more and more community spirit etc
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on 12 June 2014
I really enjoyed this book and identified with the author. I was born in 1948 and am thus a child of the Sixties and a Baby Boomer, but obviously I lived though the Fifties and everything she describes is familiar. my only problem with the book (as a retired journalist and book publisher) is that the proof-reading is poor - it would be nice if someone could rectify that. And hilariously, my iPad refuses to write 'My' in that last sentence...
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VINE VOICEon 28 April 2016
Within its relatively small compass Jessica Mann's account of what everyday life was like during the 1950s in Britain is shrewd, entertaining and full of first-hand observations. This was a decade that was, paradoxically, both full of hope and packed with inhibitions of all kinds. The author was 13 years old in 1950 and thus grew up experiencing the shortages and austerity of the first part of the period and the years of "Never had it so good.." when, in 1957, Harold Macmillan stated that life in the United Kingdom was affluent and comfortable as never before. Jessica Mann examines the social attitudes of the time critically and with great insight, contrasting life now with what people experienced then sensitively and sympathetically. The period of the 1950s has attracted a great deal of attention from historians in recent years and this book is a a very good introduction to understanding the decade.
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