Judith Nies' memoir is the story of her transformation from a naive small town girl to an worldly aware women. It is part coming of age story, part travelogue and part history lesson. It is a report from the front lines from someone who lived it.
Neis captures the essence of the other sixties. Not the "sex, drugs and rock and roll" variety. She portrays in detail the political transformation of a generation.
She weaves together the stories of the cold war, the CIA and the FBI into the fabric of civil rights marches, Vietnam war teach-ins and women's sit ins. She tells of government secrecy and downright lies. She talks of old boy's clubs and class in America.
Her stories of working on Capitol Hill in the late sixties bring some of the pivotal players of that time into sharp focus. They are all on display from Congressman Burton of California to Daniel Ellsburg; from Senator Fulbright to Gloria Stienem. She even manages to compare and contrast the political climate of 1964 and 2004.
She graphically reminds of us of why "The Political is Personal".
This is very much the story of women. Women and their quest for educations and votes. Women seeking equal access to and opportunity in the workplace. The fight for viable health care, birth control and child care. It is the story of women in the 20th century with a straight line from the suffragettes to NOW. Unfortunately, many of these stories have have been forgotten. It is important that we remember them and that we honor the brave women who tirelessly worked to ensure that women today have a measure of equality.
Most young women of today take it for granted that a women can vote. They never question the idea that they can choose a career and be taken seriously in the workplace. Most young girls don't even question the "right" to play sports or have equal access to public accommodations. Thankfully, most young women do not really understand institutionalized sexual harassment.
And for all of that, women are too often judged by their appearance, and faced with conflicting demands about who and what they should be.
We've come a long way, baby . . . and we still have a long, long way to go!
Here is the publishers synopsis:
At the height of the Vietnam War protests, twenty-eight-year-old Judith Nies and her husband lived a seemingly idyllic life. Both were building their respective careers in Washington—Nies as the speechwriter and chief staffer to a core group of antiwar congressmen, her husband as a Treasury department economist. They lived in the carriage house of the famed Marjorie Merriweather Post estate. But when her husband brought home a list of questions from an FBI file with Judith's name on the front, Nies soon realized that her life was about to take a radical turn. Shocked to find herself the focus of an FBI investigation into her political activities, Nies began to reevaluate her role as grateful employee and dutiful wife. In The Girl I Left Behind, she chronicles the experiences of those women who, like herself, reinvented their lives in the midst of a wildly shifting social and political landscape.
In a fresh, candid look at the 1960s, Nies pairs illuminating descriptions of feminist leaders, women's liberation protests, and other pivotal social developments with the story of her own transformation into a staunch activist and writer. From exposing institutionalized sexism on Capitol Hill in her first published article to orchestrating the removal of a separate "Ladies Gallery" on the House floor to taking leadership of the Women in Fellowships Committee, Nies discusses her own efforts to enlarge women's choices and to change the workplace—and how the repercussions of those efforts in the sixties can still be felt today.
A heartfelt memoir and piercing social commentary, The Girl I Left Behind recounts one woman's courageous journey toward independence and equality. It also evaluates the consequences of the feminist movement on the same women who made it happen—and on the daughters born in their wake.