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Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford Hardcover – Oct 1 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (Oct. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582434530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582434537
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.4 x 23 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 703 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,339,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Praise for Irrepressible "Defying the odds, Leslie Brody has produced an excellent biography. Brody has made the world a better place by telling [Mitford's] saga so skillfully." --San Francisco Chronicle "With passion, commitment, and a keen sense of adventure--the same qualities that defined her famous subject--Leslie Brody presents Jessica 'Decca' Mitford as the delightfully complicated character she was: aristocrat, Communist, civil rights activist, mother, author, American dreamer. In brisk but sympathetic prose that will resonate even with those totally unfamiliar with Mitford, Brody traces the fascinating evolution of a woman whose life was shaped by the great political forces of her time, yet who always stayed true to herself and her personal vision. Irrepressible is a great, all-encompassing narrative in the age of niche." --Erin Aubry Kaplan, author of I, The People "Such a refreshing biography of Decca! What an inspiration Leslie Brody's calm yet always vivid history should be to young rebellious souls oppressed by the gloomy cul-de-sac into which our national politics have drifted. Here's the story of a true rebel in the finest traditions of upper-class English women who kicked over the traces. Decca's journey took her from Republican Spain to Oakland, California. Brody is never better than when describing the energy and idealism of Communists in those vicious postwar years and Decca's humor and enormous bravery in the face of real physical danger." --Alexander Cockburn

About the Author

Leslie Brody has won the PEN Center USA West prize and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and several awards for her playwriting. She is the author of the memoir Red Star Sister and of A Motel of the Mind. She teaches and lives in Redlands, California. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Confession time - before I was introduced to this book, I had no idea who Jessica Mitford was. Having read the book, I am sad I have spent so long without knowing her. What an interesting, energetic and involved character she was! Leslie Brody has done an amazing job of capturing Jessica (or Decca, as she was called). There is nothing dry or boring about either the woman or the book. This biography is well written, easy to follow and read, and interesting. There are also pictures. I happen to love pictures in biographies. My favorite is at page 214. It is a picture of Decca at age 5 looking defiant, stubborn and immovable - a foreshadowing of the woman she would become.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9c02c708) out of 5 stars 14 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bef8498) out of 5 stars A Welcome Book, Long Overdue Oct. 20 2010
By Jaylia - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Besides her own memoirs, which are limited in scope, we could only catch glimpses of Jessica in earlier books that are more about her sisters. Jessica is fascinating, a droll gadfly and jester who used her wits and endless energy to promote civil rights, uncover corruption and generally help the downtrodden, but even into adulthood latent communist sentiments meant she didn't mind stealing--jiggery pokery she called it--from people or institutions she felt had more than they needed. Reading about her exploits creates an irresistible sort of mental frisson because she was both superbly inspiring and spectacularly thoughtless, even cruel. At nineteen she ran away to Spain with her soon-to-be husband to fight the fascists, which was wonderful for the people and the cause she was able to help, but devastating to her family who had no idea where she was or what had happened to her. Maybe because less has been written about her later life I especially enjoyed the last sections of the book. By that point it was definitely a page turner for me--I couldn't put it down. If you've already read other Mitford books the first chapters may drag a little. POISON PENMANSHIP, a collection of Jessica's muckraking investigative reporting, was reissued this year and if you have both books you can follow along, reading her essays as they are covered in this biography.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c2a5bd0) out of 5 stars Well written summary Dec 29 2012
By Austenesque - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
There was very little new material material for me, and at times this felt more like an edited version of her life. Brody writes well and the jumble of life events, but particularly Decca`s flight to Spain, are organized well. Seemed well researched. Some aspects of Decca`s life seemed a bit neglected. Halfway through I got a little bored as I'd read much of this in prior Mitford books. Not as in depth as I was hoping for but I did read it with relish as the subject is a fascinating character.
On the whole, this was an enjoyable read, although not as much as reading the actual letters.

My biggest gripe with this book
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e092f30) out of 5 stars forget about this book, get Hons and Rebels, A Fine Old Conflict instead Nov. 28 2011
By m morrissey - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a pale summary of what Jessica "Decca" Mitford Rommily Treuhaft provided herself in the way of autobio.

Really .... a waste of money, go for the originals! Far better written, far more engaging.

I very much regretted reading this book after "Hons and Rebels" and before reading "A Fine Old Conflict" as such was the way in which to have its weaknesses utterly shown up. blah!
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9c02c240) out of 5 stars This book lives up to its subject! Oct. 6 2010
By Alisa S. - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
...which is a tall order! Jessica Mitford lived in tempestuous times, and did and saw so much; Leslie Brody's book captures the spirit not only of the Spanish Civil War, the early days of the Communist Party in America, and the civil rights struggle, but also Mitford's state of mind and decisions. Why would a fun-loving, principled activist stay in the party during the Stalin era? This book doesn't just explain why, it shows why, without ever preaching or overstating. It also reads like a novel, and isn't afraid to be witty and funny.
HASH(0x9c1f857c) out of 5 stars Portrait of a Passionate Woman July 1 2013
By Jenna Z. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To me, Jessica Mitford was a "lost woman" in our culture and Brody does a stellar job of bringing her to life. Her rebellion against a family divided by fascist leanings was dramatic and passionate, and left me rooting for Jessica (aka Decca) all the way. Brody also creates a historical context for the political waters that attracted Decca and the courage it took to swim in them. I found "Irrepressible" to be gracefully written by someone who is at ease with her subject matter and a masterful storyteller. I recommend it to anyone interested in women, WWII and its aftermath and American history.