AN OLD WIFE'S TALE: My Seven Decades in Love and War

Midge Decter, Author . ReganBooks $26 (234p) ISBN 978-0-06-039428-8

Under cover of a memoir, Decter, a politically conservative columnist and author (Liberal Parents, Radical Children), has a lot of fun railing at two of her favorite targets: feminists and communists. A right wing fixture in many debates with feminists (whom she refers to as "libbers") in the 1970s, she still can't figure out what possible complaint women could harbor against their position in society. Although she obviously enjoyed working in the literary field while raising children, the former executive editor of Harper's now wishes she had waited until her youngest was in high school. In addition to swipes at Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and lesbians at large, she also ventures the unpopular opinion that housework is "nourishing" and blames the 1960s and '70s women's movement for self-destructive trends, such as anorexia, that afflict girls today. Her hostility toward communists led Decter to form the Committee for a Free World (now disbanded), composed of conservative thinkers, to provide journalistic support for worldwide economic and political freedom. The ideological rants in this very readable and occasionally witty account will be of great interest to many conservative readers, but Decter's personal, less caustic recollections, especially those about her four children, 10 grandchildren and longtime husband, Norman Podhoretz (also a prominent conservative intellectual), have a wider appeal. Agent, Lynne Chu. (Sept.)

Forecast:Sure to attract reviews, this feisty memoir is slated for a 15-city NPR campaign and author appearances in New York City.

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-06-098900-2
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