Crystal Eastman: A Revolutionary Life

Oxford Univ.. Dec. 2019. 408p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199948734. $34.95. BIOG
In a biography of the pioneering and overlooked American feminist Crystal Eastman (1881–1928), Aronson (journalism, media studies, Fordham Univ.) focuses on Eastman’s activism as a lens through which to illuminate cultural issues that resonate today, especially social justice and the work-life balance. Involved in major currents of Progressive Era reform, Eastman began her career as a labor reporter investigating industrial accidents, and penned an influential report that triggered the nation’s first workers’ compensation laws. She founded the monthly magazine The Liberator with her brother, Max Eastman. Aronson offers useful historical context when descrbring the causes Eastman championed: suffrage, anti-militarism, reproductive rights, socialism, pacifism, and world federation. This meticulously researched book shines when it shows how Eastman’s profound longing for motherhood inspired the most important theme of her writings: gender inequality in domestic relations. Unlike many of her feminist colleagues, Eastman had no desire to see women fully liberated from motherhood and child rearing. An intimate look at her relationships with well-known reformers, including her brother Max, propels the narrative forward.
VERDICT For academics and general readers interested in women’s rights and biographies of achieving women.

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