Leslie Brody
Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford
January 15, 2019 Comments.. 226
Irrepressible The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford Admirers and detractors use the same words to describe Jessica Mitford subversive muckraker mischief maker But those who knew her best simply called her Decca Born into one of Britain s most famous

  • Title: Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford
  • Author: Leslie Brody
  • ISBN: 9781582437675
  • Page: 426
  • Format: Paperback
  • Admirers and detractors use the same words to describe Jessica Mitford subversive, muckraker, mischief maker But those who knew her best simply called her Decca Born into one of Britain s most famous aristocratic families, at the age of nineteen she ran away with Winston Churchill s nephew Their elopement severed ties with her privilege, a rupture only exacerbated by tAdmirers and detractors use the same words to describe Jessica Mitford subversive, muckraker, mischief maker But those who knew her best simply called her Decca Born into one of Britain s most famous aristocratic families, at the age of nineteen she ran away with Winston Churchill s nephew Their elopement severed ties with her privilege, a rupture only exacerbated by the controversial life she would go on to lead for seventy eight years.Decca arrived in the United States in 1939, and before long became one of the New Deal s most notorious bureaucrats She went on to work as a civil rights activist and an investigative journalist championing the underdog She coined the term frenemies, and as a member of the American Communist Party for fifteen years, she made several, though not among the Cold War witch hunters In 1958, when she finally left the Party, she did so with no hard feelings, declaring herself an ex red menace and promising to be subversive whenever the opportunity arose Staying true to her word, late in life she hit her stride as a writer, publishing nine books including Hons and Rebels, The American Way of Death, and A Fine Old Conflict before her death in 1996.Yoked to every important event for nearly all of the twentieth century, Decca not only was defined by the history she witnessed, but by bearing witness helped to define that history.

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    1 Blog on “Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford

    1. Richard Derus says:

      Rating: 3* of fiveThe Publisher Says: Admirers and detractors use the same words to describe Jessica Mitford: subversive, mischief-maker, muckraker. J.K. Rowling calls her her “most influential writer.” Those who knew her best simply called her Decca. Born into one of Britain’s most famous aristocratic families, she eloped with Winston Churchill’s nephew as a teenager. Their marriage severed ties with her privilege, a rupture exacerbated by the life she lead for seventy-eight years.After [...]

    2. Audra (Unabridged Chick) says:

      In a high school journalism class, I read some excerpts from Jessica Mitford's amazing book The American Way of Death, an expose and exploration of the American funeral business (her book was said to have influenced Robert F. Kennedy's coffin choice for his brother). It was much later that I learned this Mitford was related to that other Mitford I knew, Nancy.Born in 1917, Jessica was the sixth of seven children born to an English baron and his wife. Jessica's childhood was influenced by the pri [...]

    3. Margaret says:

      I wish I could give this more stars, but I wasn't all that impressed by it. Brody seems to have done her homework and offers many quotations from Decca herself and from friends and families, but the book is all just narrative, offering little analysis of Decca's thoughts or actions: not what I look for in a biography. She tries for a clever, witty tone, appropriate to such a witty subject, but I found it self-conscious and annoying. This, for example:"Suddenly, [Decca and her first husband, Esmo [...]

    4. Patty says:

      I received this book through the giveaway program here at Good Reads. I especially appreciate this program because it introduced me to a wonderful book about a woman that I knew very little about.I was aware that Jessica Mitford was a writer, whose book, The American Way of Death, had caused a great deal of fuss when it was published. I also knew that Jessica Mitford was somehow related to Nancy Mitford and they had several other famous or infamous relatives. My sense of history is not too well [...]

    5. Amy Lignor says:

      Jessica Mitford (called "Decca" by family and friends) was the sixth of seven children born to David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron of Redesdale and wife Sydney. She grew up a very privileged child in a series of country houses in England. She didn't have much of a formal education as her mother did not believe in sending girls off to school but, Decca was a dedicated reader. Two of her sisters, Unity and Diana were well known English supporters of Adolf Hitler and her father and mother claimed to b [...]

    6. Jaylia3 says:

      A welcome book, long overdue. 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 m [...]

    7. Richard Thomas says:

      I was a little disappointed by the book. It covers the ground well and describes what was by any account a fascinating life and perhaps this is where my reservations lie. The book describes but does not really analyse or explain how and why someone brought up in privilege grew to resist and resent this. There is much to understand for example in how and why a childish stance of resistance to what an older sister did and believed developed into a genuine and thorough going radicalism.

    8. Nancy says:

      A Mitford book, how could I resist? This isn't a very satisfactory one, however. No sparkle, no insight, workmanlike prose, and sufficient errors of the type that cast doubt on the quality of the research (just as an example, the author thinks Evelyn Waugh converted later in life; he was 27). Still, it fills out the picture of Decca's later years; however, I'd go to the source rather than read this.

    9. Kaylan says:

      I think Jessica has taken Nancy's place as my favorite Mitford sister. This biography reads like a novel, with the heroine of the story being so much more colorful and interesting than I could have imagined. I loved reading about her adventures and was so happy to know she took such a leading role in certain events that have changed the course of history in this country.

    10. Nicholas says:

      I am as devoted to the Mitfords as anyone, but I found this biography a little boring. As much as I agree with Jessica Mitford's politics more than any of her sisters (and certainly more than Unity, who was friends with Hitler, or Diana, who married the British fascist leader, Oswald Mosley), Decca in this telling also comes off as pretty insufferable at times. Of course one does not have to like the subject of a biography in order to like the biography, but this account of Mitford's life is alm [...]

    11. Susan says:

      I waited to finish reading The Sisters about all the Mitford daughters before I completed this biogrphy of Jessica, who was certainly my favorite of the clan. Despite an aristocratic English upbringing, she ran away to join the International Brigade to fight the fascists in the Spanish Civil War with the man who was to be her first husband; after his death in WW II joined the Communist Party, became an American citizen and married a Harvard-educated lawyer(his was the law firm that gave Hillary [...]

    12. Kat Warren says:

      Yesterday I slurped up Leslie Brody's "Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford." Splendid, superb, brilliant.There's much that can go wrong with biography: too much detail, not enough detail, inability to detect unappealing attributes in the subject, tendency to over-focus on subject's unappealing attributes; lack of professional notes and sourcing and more. Brody is just right: not too much, not too little, well balanced, impeccably sourced notes, and most important: she's a delici [...]

    13. Pamela says:

      I'm fascinated by the Mitford family--they're all such strong personalities, and Jessica definitely was one of the strongest. I read this last year, along with their book of letters--that's one I'll definitely read again and again. Their relationships are so complex, none more so than those between Jessica and her sisters. She was definitely a rebel--left home to elope with her cousin and ended up living in America the majority of her adult life. I would have loved knowing her--Irrepressible is [...]

    14. Dana Burgess says:

      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 lo [...]

    15. Nancy Spiller says:

      For me, growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 60s and 70s, Jessica Mitford was a goddess of smart, scathingly funny yet solid journalism, daring to illuminate the foolishness and hypocrisy to be found in the conventions of American life. Her expose of the funeral industry and her collection titled "Poison Penmanship" have been a lifelong inspiration to me as a journalist and author. That she is hardly known today is criminal. That Leslie Brody wrote this wonderful biography of her is a [...]

    16. Claudia says:

      Very interesting biography of Jessica Mitford. I have read several books about the Mitfords but Jessica is usually covered in just a few paragraphs: she ran away to fight in the Spanish Civil War, she was a communist and moved to America. While all of that is correct, there is a lot more to her story.

    17. Maureen Flatley says:

      I've been fascinated by the Mitford sisters for years. This is a great biography about Jessica, who wrote the ground breaking expose of the funeral industry, The American Way of Death, a book that created the genre of exposes and literally changed the landscape of American public policy and consumer protection in America.

    18. Mary says:

      Jessica Mitford is my personal hero, and I'm pretty indulgent of anyone else who feels the same (as this author clearly does). I loved gleaning more details of Jessica's life from this breezy, chatty biography, and I'll happily give it a pass on its somewhat book-report-ish tone and the spottiness of the later chapters.

    19. Cynthia Kane says:

      I loved this book - the Mitford sisters are fascinating and I have been drawn to Jessica Mitford, her politics and her pluck for a long time. But as a resident now of the Bay Area and in particular Oakland, her story and that of husband, Bob Treuhaft and her children resonated highly.It's a quick and energetic read and I thank the author greatly for this insightful and delightful biography.

    20. Alisa says:

      This book lives up to its subject! Mitford was a muckraker, a raconteur (raconteuse?), and a total party-girl of the party. There will doubtless be scholarly biographies galore within the next few years that will turn her into some kind of mouthpiece for something or other, but this one accesses the essence of a woman who lived in the moment. Mitford was great good company, and so is this book.

    21. Katie says:

      A fascinating woman from a fascinating family. Decca is my favorite Mitford girl, and this very readable biography does an excellent job of revealing this recovered aristocrat, communist activist, writer, and mother as an independed individual rather than yet another cog in the Mitford Empire. kathrynfunk.squarespace/jo

    22. Maggie says:

      As a newly minted Mitford fan, this biography was badly written and underwhelming until getting to the settled part of Decca's life, where she and her husband were politically active as Communists and social rights activists. The writing smoothed out and was much less awkward at this point, and the sheer amount of living Decca did took over the narrative. I enjoyed the second half very much.

    23. Lisa says:

      This biography is well written and interesting. Despite these attributed, however, my attention waned. I'd had no previous knowledge of Jessica Mitford and I didn't feel the need to plow through to learn more. I gave it a whirl based on a positive review of the book.

    24. Sigrid Ellis says:

      An engaging biography of Jessica "Decca" Mitford's life. Since her life was incredibly interesting, there's a lot that goes by quickly. Much as, I suspect, Decca would have experienced it herself.

    25. Diane Swiben says:

      I'm with another reviewer on this one. Just take a look of the picture in the book of Jessica Mitford as a child and that picture says it all! I enjoyed the writer's style and loved reading about one gutsy woman!

    26. Benjamin Lettuce Treuhaft says:

      It is all about my mommy and daddy. It is quirky but a spectacularly told story. You should be so lucky as to have Leslie Brody write a book about yours.

    27. Lisa says:

      An enjoyable read about an interesting person. I especially liked the Bay Area history aspects.

    28. Jamie says:

      I love Decca so I can't wait to read this!

    29. Laura Lee says:

      Pretty good. Did not know all this stuff.

    30. Gayla Bassham says:

      Thoroughly enjoyable, particularly if you have a fascination with the Mitford sisters (as I do).

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