From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women in the World by Marilyn French


book jacket abstract image of womanFrom Eve to Dawn: A History of Women in the World by Marilyn French (2008) Volume 1: Origins. Foreword by Margaret Atwood.

Marilyn French has a smooth writing style that is easy to read but still packs a punch by her coherence and context for absorbing new information.

The bbook jacket illustration of wall and women in red with white hatsook is divided into 3 basic parts: 1. Parents, 2. The Rise of the State, 3. Gods, Glory, and Delusions of Grandeur. Under the States part it is a treat to go back all the way to Peru, Egypt, and Sumner. Other nations include a chapter on China, India, Mexico and a concluding analysis on the State in the abstract. She adds descriptors to identify the nature of the respective states: Secular=China, Religious = India, Militaristic = Mexico.

Under the Gods portion she covers Judaism, Greece, Rome, Christianity, Islam. There are number of supplemental notes, a glossary, a bibliography, and and index as well as some maps.

Here’s a bit from Margaret Atwood’s foreword:

Women who read this book will do so with horror and growing anger: From Eve to Dawn is to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex as won is to poodle. Men who read it might be put off by the depiction of the collective male as brutal book jacket photo of author Simone de Beauvoirpsychopath, or puzzled by French’s idea that men should “take responsibility for what their sex has done.” . . . However, no one will be able to avoid the relentless piling up of detail and event — the bizarre customs, the woman-hating legal structure, the gynecological absurdities, the child abuse, the sanctioned violence, the sexual outrageous — millennium after millennium. How to explain them? Are all men twisted? Are all women doomed? Is there hope? French is ambivalent about the twisted part, but, being a peculiarly American kind of activist, she insists on hope. (p.x)

Her intention was to put together a narrative answer to a question that had bothered her for a long time: how had men under up with ALL THE POWER — specifically, with all the power over women? Had it always been like that? If not, how was such power grasped and then enforced? Nothing she had read had addressed this issue directly. In most conventional histories, women simply aren’t there. Or they’re there as footnotes. (p.xi)

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Three Felonies a Day by Harvey A. Silverglate

people on hill with hand on gavelThree Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harry A. Silverglate (2009). Excellent forward by Alan Dershowitz

.This book was an interlibrary loan book, so I have to take it back without being able to quote much from it. It is well-written and readable if a bit intense and complex. He argues that the laws and other aspects of law, like the Code of Federal Regulations has grown so bloated and extensive that ordinary people break  laws and rules and never even know it. Unless, of course, they have done something to draw the Feds attention to themselves, and then the full prosecutorial forces grab onto the most inconsequential detail and use it like a hammer on a nail to take down someone who never INTENTIONALLY broke the law. No one can completely know all of the laws the government has implemented these days, so ignorance of the law should actually be a reasonable defense. And he cites many many cases and circumstances that prove deliberate targeting and selective enforcement.

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A Choice not an Echo by Phyllis Schlafly

book jacketA choice not an Echo (updated and expanded 50th anniversary edition) with forward by Ron Paul by Phyllis Schlafly (original  edition 1964, this edition 2014)

This woman proves the point that a single person can change the world. Alas, the implication is generally that the world can be changed for the better. Not so with Phyllis Schlafly who fucked a generation and more of women while living a life she wanted to denied the rest of us. And her big bogeymen, mixed sex bathrooms and women in combat and subject to the draft arrived anyway! Meanwhile we are still underpaid, undervalued, and fighting for personal autonomy and against forced birth. And she’s still alive (91), dammit. And still self-righteous. And still an evil horrible human being. But that doesn’t maker her wrong about everything. And I was shocked and a little horrified that this book contains many facts that everyone should know, although perhaps interpret them somewhat differently.

Yet it is funny because, unlike the deep and resounding hatred I hold for Henry Hyde (deceased 2007), Jesse Helms (deceased 2008), and the blessedly dead (2016) Antonin Scalia, somehow I seem to be acting in a sex discriminatory manner for not hating this woman as much as these men. Don’t get me wrong, I do hate her and what she did to stop the simple ERA and her absurd belief that women should stay home and have babies and be good Christian Madonnas serving and servicing their husbands regardless of abuse, adultery, or financial withholding. She is a smart Harvard-educated woman, a lawyer, and a mother of six. She remains a plague upon our nation continuing her involvement with Republicans “usually as a delegate, at every Republican National Convention since 1952” (back jacket copy).

Her heir apparent is the revolting Ann Coulter who did a back jacket blurb that will give me nightmares:

A Choice Not an Echo “changed the Republican Party forever. . . Without Schlafly, without that book, without Goldwater’s candidacy [and Hillary Clinton as a supporter], it is unlikely that RONALD REAGAN would ever have been elected president.”

Oh for a time machine! Of course the problem with that is you cannot tell if you would make matters worse (such as killing Hitler alternative histories, though with him never born, pretty sure the world would have been better off under any scenario). I try to picture a world without her effect, without Reagan, without Hyde and Helms, and especially without the legacy of Scalia (and Thomas and Alito and Mitch McConnell and all the other slime we are living with that are killing democracy and the rights of women. Toss in the rise of the un-Christian theocrats, the American caused rise of radical Islam (that is, the rise of murderous bullies and thugs in the name of religion, oh wait, that applies to the forced-birther Christians too!), and the state of perpetual war, the rule of the few, the theft of economic security and rise of the debtor slaves, oh the dominoes go everywhere and reach everyone. To my sorrow. The damage she has done really needs an in-depth historical review.

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Imbeciles by Adam Cohen

book jacket with title and authorImbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck by Adam Cohen, (2016)

This is probably the most famous case of any relating to the ill-considered eugenics movement that contributed to the discredited Social Darwinism philosophy and serious racism (blacks being considered subhuman for no actual basis other than having been enslaved because of the color of their skin – which I think if it was written as science fiction no one with a brain would find this notion credible and would not be able to suspend their disbelief for such a novel). And more obviously, led to the genocide of the Jews in the Holocaust, which led to a withdrawal of the concept from acceptable “science” but I fear lingers on to this day. We see genocide over religion as well as people who are in tribes that are simply taller people (Rawanda – read Elmore Leonard’s novel Pagan Babies, that includes some on it, horrifying).

So the gist of the issue was that 8 Supreme Court justices decided Carrie Buck was of low intelligence (without any basis; when she was allowed in school she was better than average). As the child of a single mom because the husband had abandoned the family, she was vulnerable. After her mother was confined to a facility for purported “immorality” [pretty sure only women were confined for that] and prostitution [not sure she had another way of making a living], and syphilis [big surprise].

Carrie was sent to live with foster parents, who removed her from school to be treated as a servant. Then the family’s nephew raped Carrie and she become pregnant herself, giving birth to a daughter out of wedlock (it is a really horrible story; the foster parents adopted and got custody of Carrie’s child while she was sent to the home, and were, as I recall abusive of  her child. The daughter died at age eight.

Carrie was deemed “immoral” for having been raped. We have not made much progress on that front. She was a test case by the Nazi sympathizer involved in a move to sterilize for race purity and mentally challenged as well as, shockingly, epileptics.

The short version is that they used her as a test case to validate the right of the State to sterilize people. And the dreadful horrible evil of 8 of 9 old white men decided that the State had a right to sterilize people without their permission and often without their knowledge.

Like other horrible Supreme Court decisions, the completely horrific consequences were not seen as evil at the time, people did not protest. They agreed that this should be done.

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The Great Escape by Angus Deaton

title text great escape: health, wealth, and the origins of inequalityThe Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality by Angus Deaton (2013)

This is a good book. Highly recommended to read. Full of details that are really informative but results in a lot of numbers and statistics. The following tidbits are in random order rather than sequentially by chapters.


I have been puzzled a lot by how poverty is established because when I do the math, to pay for all the basics (rent, food, utilities, phone, Internet, medical insurance, drug insurance, co-pays and deductibles) it exceeds poverty by a lot. I don’t even remotely understand how any one can manage just the cost of tampons and diapers alone, much less clothing, especially for growing kids — the mind boggles. Prior to this section there was an informative but this part was a bit tedious on the GDP and how it is calculated. Informative true, but also depressing because he described how inadequate and somewhat spurious our economic system is based on the GDP.

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