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Jane Addams: A Biography [Paperback]

By James W. Linn (Author) & Anne Firor Scott (Foreword by)
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Item description for Jane Addams: A Biography by James W. Linn & Anne Firor Scott...

Jane Addams is most widely remembered as a founder of Hull House, but her social vision extended far beyond Chicago's Halsted Street. This title offers a glimpse of the private Addams, from her childhood and schooling through her first efforts in public service and her rise to a position of national influence.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: University of Illinois Press
Pages   504
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.26" Width: 5.67" Height: 1.23"
Weight:   1.28 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 11, 2000
Publisher   University of Illinois Press
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0252069048  
ISBN13  9780252069048  

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Historical > General
3Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Historical > United States > General
4Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Historical > United States
5Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Specific Groups > Women
6Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > 20th Century > General
7Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Current Events > Poverty > Social Services & Welfare
8Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
9Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology

Reviews - What do customers think about Jane Addams: A Biography?

A Limited Biography  Nov 1, 2007
James Weber Linn's "Jane Addams: A Biography" is the story of the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The founder of the Settlement House Movement, she was famous for her nonviolent activism and socially progressive policies during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Today she is lauded as an instrumental figure in labor and welfare reform, women's rights, and activism for peace.

In his preface, James Weber Linn clearly explains that he intends his biography of Jane Addams to be simply the story of her life as opposed to an interpretation of her character and motivations. The value of his work is the authority and knowledge with which he writes Jane's story. Jane was his aunt, enabling him to draw on his personal relationship with her, an acquaintance of nearly 60 years, as well as to utilize all of the manuscripts, letters, and records that she passed on to him in her will. Moreover, according to Linn, Jane read, edited, and annotated the first eight chapters of the biography. This serves to authenticate the content of the biography, lending it an air of truth and honesty. However, Linn's relationship with Jane also indicates a bias in the writing of the biography that colors the presentation of the facts.

This biography is incredibly detailed, providing excellent descriptions of Jane's life and experiences. For anyone interested in studying Jane Addams or learning more about her work and accomplishments, I would certainly recommend this book as an excellent, reliable first source of information. However, Linn's writing style is somewhat dry, rambling, and tends to laud Jane slightly too often. I would caution the reader to perhaps balance this biography of Jane with a slightly more critical and less biased account of her life, as Linn clearly felt unmitigated admiration for his aunt. Additionally, because the book was published in the year of Jane's death, it does not have the advantage of retrospect or historical perspective. A more modern biography of Jane Addams would be able to convey to the reader the full impact Jane made upon subsequent political figures and social movements.

This text certainly endows the reader with a deep sense of respect for Jane Addams. Linn does an excellent job of conveying her intense selflessness and active involvement in political and social reform, an especially astonishing circumstance given the lack of freedom and social mobility for women during that time period. However, his view is somewhat limited because of his relationship with Jane and the strong regard he had for her. Moreover, though Linn states that his book is meant to be merely the story of Jane's life, I would have appreciated more analysis and interpretation. The value of the book is lessened precisely because it lacks critical scrutiny. And, as I stated earlier, the book would also be much more useful if it included the historical perspective of Jane's life as well as a retrospective analysis of her achievements in modern context. I would recommend the interested person to balance a reading of this text with one of the many excellent, more recent biographies of Jane Addams, written by authors such as Louise W. Knight, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Allen F. Davis, and Dennis and Judith Fradin.
Great Bio, Towering Figure  May 8, 2002
This biography has an advantage over all other biographies of Addams: it was written not too long after her death by a family member that knew her well. Furthermore, Weber Linn was an English scholar, so his writing style is very refined and easy to read. Despite its complete lack of citations, the author is very objective to the subject at hand. The end result is a very intimate portrait of one (if not the) most amazing woman in American History. Some of the larger aspects of her life included: forming the Women's League for Peace in WWI, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, setting off the Settlement house movement in United States, and being blacklisted by the House for Un-American Activities (yes, she was that cool!). The greatness of Jane Addams is to be found in the details, however, and this book provides the reader with just that. An amazing life, well told.

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