The Literary Horizon: When Everything Changed, Hellraisers

There’s more nonfiction on this week’s The Literary Horizon!

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins


Picking up where her previous successful, and highly lauded book, America’s Women, left off, Gail Collins recounts the sea change women have experienced since 1960. A comprehensive mix of oral history and Collins’s keen research, this is the definitive book about five crucial decades of progress, told with the down-to-earth, amusing, and agenda-free tone this beloved New York Times columnist is known for. The interviews with women who have lived through these transformative years include an advertising executive in the 60s who was not allowed to attend board meetings that took place in the all-male dining room; and an airline stewardess who remembered being required to bend over to light her passengers’ cigars on the men-only ‘Executive Flight’ from New York to Chicago.

We, too, may have forgotten the enormous strides made by women since 1960–and the rare setbacks. “Hell yes, we have a quota [7%]” said a medical school dean in 1961. “We do keep women out, when we can.” At a pre-graduation party at Barnard College, “they handed corsages to the girls who were engaged and lemons to those who weren’t.” In 1960, two-thirds of women 18-60 surveyed by Gallup didn’t approve of the idea of a female president. Until 1972, no woman ran in the Boston Marathon, the year when Title IX passed, requiring parity for boys and girls in school athletic programs (and also the year after Nixon vetoed the childcare legislation passed by congress). What happened during the past fifty years–a period that led to the first woman’s winning a Presidential Primary–and why? The cataclysmic change in the lives of American women is a story Gail Collins seems to have been born to tell.

via Hachette Book Group

It’s easy for the girls of my generation (and younger!) to forget exactly what the Second Wave of feminism gave us–higher education, greater employment, and the like. I consider myself quite lucky to have been born in this era, with all the opportunities afforded me. As social change picks up speed exponentially, it’s too easy to not look back. I’m also just interested in women’s history–how does one get from patronizing and discriminating against women who sought higher education and better employment to a viable female candidate for the presidency of the United States in a space of fifty years?

When Everything Changed was released on October 14.

Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole and Oliver Reed by Robert Sellers


The Boozy Biography of the Four Greatest Actors to Ever Walk–Or Stagger–Into a Pub.
This book traces the intertwining lives and careers of Burton, Harris, O’Toole, and Reed, plus an assortment of other movie boozers who crossed their path. It’s a celebratory catalogue of their miscreant deeds, a greatest-hits package, as it were, of their most breathtakingly outrageous behavior, told with humor and affection. You can’t help but enjoy it—after all, they bloody well did.
Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O’Toole, and Oliver Reed: On screen they were stars. Off screen they were legends!
Hellraisers is the story of drunken binges of near biblical proportions, parties and orgies, broken marriages, riots, and wanton sexual conquests. Indeed, acts so outrageous that if you or I had perpetrated them we could have ended up in jail. Their mercurial acting talent and love from the press and the public allowed them to get away with the kind of behaviour that today’s film stars could scarcely dream of. They were truly the last of a breed, the last of the movie hellraisers.

via St. Martin’s Press at MacMillian

Now, for something completely different! While I do not know much about these four actors, I do know of them–they were (and O’Toole still is) called on to play wizened patriarchs in films, which is how film audiences these days know them. Their characters are wise, calm, and sometimes tragic–a far cry from their real lives.

I don’t read a lot of biographies, although I hope to correct this. Hellraisers sounds like great fun, documenting the drunken adventures of these wonderful actors. Hopefully, it will also devote a handful of pages to their careers, but I think it will prove a rollicking introduction to these great actors and the circles they moved in via their adventures on their own time.

Hellraisers will be released in the United States on December 8.

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