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AS HEARD ON RADIO 4 WOMAN'S HOUR
'Captivating ... a brilliant many-layered social history of women's ambition and a rapidly changing New York' Observer
'A fascinating look at a piece of forgotten female history' Sunday Times
'A treat, elegantly spinning a forgotten story of female liberation, ambition and self-invention' Guardian
'A deeply researched history, leavened with gossip ... offers a full sweep of the changing status of American women in the twentieth century' TLS
WELCOME TO THE BARBIZON, NEW YORK'S PREMIER WOMEN-ONLY HOTEL
Built in 1927 as a home for the 'Modern Woman' seeking a career in the arts, the Barbizon became the place to stay for ambitious, independent women, who were lured by the promise of fame and good fortune. Sylvia Plath fictionalized her time there in The Bell Jar, and over the years, its 688 tiny floral 'highly feminine boudoirs' also housed Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly (notorious for sneaking in men), Joan Didion, Candice Bergen, Charlie's Angel Jaclyn Smith, Ali MacGraw, Cybil Shepherd, Elaine Stritch, Liza Minnelli, Eudora Welty, The Cosby Show's Phylicia Rashad, Grey Gardens's Edith Bouvier Beale, and writers Mona Simpson and Ann Beattie, among many others. Mademoiselle boarded its summer interns there - perfectly turned-out young women, who would never be spotted hatless - as did Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School its students - in their white-gloves and kitten heels - and the Ford Modelling Agency its young models.
THE BARBIZON is a colourful, glamorous portrait of the lives of the young women, who -- from the Jazz Age New Women of the 1920s to the Liberated Women of the 1960s -- came to New York looking for something more.
'The story of the Barbizon is in many ways the story of American women in the twentieth century' Economist
'Illuminating . . . this vivid, well researched account is testament to its vibrant history and the women who made it such a powerhouse' Daily Express
The 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia brought an end to the Prague Spring and its promise of "socialism with a human face." Before the invasion, Czech reformers had made unexpected use of television to advance political and social change. In its aftermath, Communist Party leaders employed the medium to achieve "normalization," pitching television stars against political dissidents in a televised spectacle that defined the times. The Greengrocer and His TV offers a new cultural history of communism from the Prague Spring to the Velvet Revolution that reveals how state-endorsed ideologies were played out on television, particularly through soap opera-like serials. In focusing on the small screen, Paulina Bren looks to the "normal" of normalization, to the everyday experience of late communism.
The figure central to this book is the greengrocer who, in a seminal essay by Václav Havel, symbolized the ordinary citizen who acquiesced to the communist regime out of fear. Bren challenges simplistic dichotomies of fearful acquiescence and courageous dissent to dramatically reconfigure what we know, or think we know, about everyday life under communism in the 1970s and 1980s. Deftly moving between the small screen, the street, and the Central Committee (and imaginatively drawing on a wide range of sources that include television shows, TV viewers' letters, newspapers, radio programs, the underground press, and the Communist Party archives), Bren shows how Havel's greengrocer actually experienced "normalization" and the ways in which popular television serials framed this experience. Now back by popular demand, socialist-era serials, such as The Woman Behind the Counter and The Thirty Adventures of Major Zeman, provide, Bren contends, a way of seeing—literally and figuratively—Czechoslovakia's normalization and Eastern Europe's real socialism.