Most helpful critical review
A few nuggets in an otherwise sorry treatment of the subject
on December 6, 2001
I bought this book prepared to be fascinated. I was not disappointed. The author addresses some truly fascinating topics of how we view motherhood and breastfeeding in the United States. She makes some good points.
There were, however, so many problems with this book that it really overshadowed what the author did well. An interesting contrast is shown between the African American mothers and Caucasian American mothers that she interviewed for this book. One group feeling guilty about not breastfeeding and using public assistance, the other group apparently feeling no guilt about not breastfeeding and expressing a sense of entitlement to public assistance programs. Rather than expounding upon this fascinating subject of differing emotional perspectives on breastfeeding, the author serves up her thinly veiled personal political views. Worse, she openly expresses disrespect for one of the mothers that she interviewed, denoting in the book how she "kept the upper hand" in the interview. While one could argue that an interviewer "needs" to stay in control of the interview, there is absolutely no reason to show such public rudeness to someone who freely gave of their time to help the author with her research.
The author makes a conversation about the medical community pushing mothers into guilt about not breastfeeding, based upon ONE interveiw. Without even going into the lack of coverage of varying medical attitudes about breastfeeding in different regions of the United States, it has to be stated that making any such statement based upon just one statement is not only poor judgement, but simply ridiculous. Again the author takes a large issue and over-simplifies it for the convenience of her book.
Ms. Blum's contradictory treatment of the importance of breastfeeding is infuriating. With one hand she states her belief in the benefits of breastfeeding, with the other she marginalizes its importance, as if the decision were no more important than whether to wear blue jeans of khakis.
If you want a very slim beginning to this subject go ahead and read the book. Please, though, borrow it rather than buy it and reward the author for such a poor job.