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What an amazing life Beate Sirota Gordon lived. This book caught my attention because it dealt with her part in helping write a new constitution for post-war Japan. It also gives a good account of conditions in Japan before, during, and just after the war. Over half the book deals with Beate's life in various countries with a large amount of her growing years spent in Japan. This helps understand where her passion came from in fighting to include articles in the new constitution about protection...
In Oct. 2007 I had the privilege of hearing Ms.Gordon speak at a renowned women's college in Tokyo. Now in her 80s, Ms. Gordon traveled from her home in the US to visit again the country of her youth, Japan. She spoke in Japanese for over an hour, giving a summary of her life, but most importantly, stressing the importance of the Equal Rights Clause of Japan's constitution, which by quirk of fate she had written.The Only Woman in the Room, a brief memoir, which includes her contribution to the h...
I was surprised to read in the forward that this was the English version of her Japanese autobiography, which I had read a few years ago. Somehow this version seems less detailed, but that could just be because it takes me a lot longer to read Japanese than English. In any case, I find it a bit ironic that 66 years ago an American woman wrote an equal rights clause in the Japanese constitution, while just the other day my female senator voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act. Why should it be
I put this book on my library list after reading the author's obituary when she passed away a few months ago. It seemed like she had a pretty fascinating life, and that was borne out in the book. It's short and not elegantly written, but that just adds to my fascination. There's so much you can imagine happening between the lines, so many thoughts and emotions that must have been left out. The author was involved in writing the Japanese Constitution after WWII, and drafted the parts regarding wo...
Loved the first two thirds of this book as the author talked about her family living in Japan and her returning to Japan as soon as WWII ended looking for her parents. She was able to get a job working for the US government in part because her Japanese was excellent and she had already been working for the US government translating Japanese to English/English to Japanese. Her record of what Japan was like at the time she was there was fascinating. She was part of the team that was tasked with co...
The memoirs of the only woman on the American occupation team to write Japan's post-World War Two constitution, I picked this up not quite sure what to expect. I found it very well-written and easy to read. It was fascinating to read Gordon's thoughts of writing the section on women's rights in Japan's constitution and the process 'behind the scenes' of SCAP, the occupying force. That was the section I was most interested in but after the occupation of Japan, Gordon went on tell of how she becam...
A self-indulgent story about how she was the best person at everything and everything she did was really important and noone was as good at or understood as much as her. Had to read this for a Japanese History class even though only a tiny part of the book was really relevant to Japanese History and hated every minute I spent reading this ego trip.
A fascinating life! Gordon was born in Vienna to Russian Jewish parents, grew up in Japan, went to college in the US and graduated while working for the FCC translating Japanese radio broadcasts and not knowing what had happened to her parents in Japan during WWII. She went back to Japan during Occupation as a translator and to look for her parents. She ended up helping write the new Japanese Constitution particularly the sections on women's rights and academic freedom and participated as a tran...
This memoir is the fascinating life story of a woman who was born in Vienna, the daughter of Russian Jews, who lived in Japan between the ages of 5-15 to escape Hitler in the 1930's, and then went to the USA to escape the Japanese during WWII. The best part of the story is how she was chosen as a 22 year old (yes, only age 22) to go to Japan as a US government worker in the years right after the war to help write the new Japanese constitution. Since she spoke Japanese and was familiar with Japan...
Beata Sirota Gordon had truly interesting and important life that makes reading this short book worthwhile. Some of the twists and turns in her life, such as growing up in Japan, were not of her own making. But what Ms. Sirota Gordon did with her knowledge of the country and language and culture are extraordinary! She had a major impact on the place of women's rights in the new Japanese constitution after World War II. And she brought many of the performing arts of Japan and other parts of Asia
This one is terribly interesting. After WWII, the US forced Japan to rewrite their constitution. When they didn't do it to our liking, we did it for them. Beate Sirota Gordon was one of the women employed by the army in post-war Japan, specializing in languages. She had also lived for many years in Japan with her parents.When the decision to write their own constitution was made, they pulled her aside and basically said, "You lived in Japan. You're a woman. You'll write the section on women's ri...
This was an interesting turn of the century book. Things are different in the world not only because of the war, but women are starting to work more and have some say in the goings-on.This story about a girl living in Japan before and after the war (College she spent in the US) then her life with her husband and her lack of involvement with her kids due to her constant attention to her work preserving heritages and 3rd world customs.
Wonderfully fascinating memoir of an amazing life. Ms. Gordon tells facts and anecdotes of her childhood in Japan with famous Russian Jewish pianist father and gregarious mother, survival in the U.S. by herself after WWII separated her from parents, her work helping draft the new Japanese constitution, her years spent bringing Asian cultural art performances to the U.S. So fun and historic we are bringing her to town to hear her speak.
A very interesting read as I was reading it while taking a Japanese hisotry class. I heard her speak in Vancouver (then bought the book based on her talk) and her story is inspirational and kind of funny, too. Highly recommended for students of Japanese history.
This is a fascinating story that is true and will give you some insights to how the Japanese constitution was influenced by one woman and how the lives of all Japanese women were changed after WWII because of it. A really good read
Beats Sirota was the woman who brought the idea of equal rights for women to Japan when she helped write the Japanese constitution. I wish my students knew her story and he contribution to their lives. However, I found her autobiography sparse and I wanted to know more.
This was fantastic. Really quick, well-paced read, and her life was really interesting both before and after the drafting of the Japanese Constitution, so the book didn't have an abrupt drop-off after her "crown achievement" like I was expecting it to. Tons of great pictures too.
Only used one chapter on the drawing up of the constitution; the rest of the book is an autobiography of her life.It was good. Easy to read and insightful. Made me think perhaps women's rights were not a battle of the countries, but the sexes.
This was fascinating and I wish there had been much more about making the Japanese constitution and the discussion about the post-war era and the internment etc, but it gave me a few leads so that was great.
My rating is based solely on the fact that the writing was dull and it felt like she still had a very American perspective on Japan and other countries. She still had a rich life and that itself is not at all dull or unimpressive.
A short and sweet memoir of Beate's extraordinary life, with her contribution to the writing of the postwar Japanese constitution as centerpiece. The prose is simple and straightforward, with some wonderful anecdotes. A lovely read!
this book i DID use for my application to stanford. it's a fabulous memoir about a young woman's (foreigner) huge role in writing japan's new constitution post ww2.
Jan is right. Excellent book
Modestly written auto-bio from a woman who led an extraordinary life.
I don't remember where I heard about this book, but have looked for it off and on for a number of years. Finally it's in print again. I found it fascinating and well written.
A fascinating insight into US and Japanese decision making at the end of WW2
I would only recommend this book for those who were either friends of the Shirotas and thus in their inner circle, or for those who are into the classical music scene in Japan. Most of the book is about this subject. I had heard so many good things about Beate Sirota Gordon that the last thing I expected was a memoir that was so completely egotistical. Perhaps I was thrown off by the cover that shows Beate as a demure young woman rather than one who gushes about her own accomplishments the way p...
I read it on accident (I was supposed to be reading Marie Benedict's "Only Woman in the Room" for book club), and what a happy accident. WHAT a life Gordon lived. To be able to be in a position to write the articles (for Japan's new constitution) affecting women in post-WWII Japan, to be elbow-to-elbow with what seems like a who's-who of the arts community both in the 60s (Yoko Ono! Yayoi Kusama!) and growing up with a famous pianist for a father, and then parlaying all those connections into a
Truth is truly stranger than fiction. Mrs. Sirota-Gordon and her family somehow managed to be at the right place at the right time a lot! It’s fascinating! I found the section of the book when she was actually in Japan the most interesting, but over all I just enjoyed the book because she did it all, and I love women who seem to be unstoppable forces who push for equality.