Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Nifty Book By a Nifty Gal

One of my first professional duties, of which I rapidly grew rather fond, at the Institute was assembling the Institute`s Annual Report, some of which are online here. In the course of that pleasant duty, I came across these people known as the Braidwoods, and could expect an early-autumn call from Linda Braidwood to go over their contributions, which neither age nor political complications deterred them from submitting or vetting. Over time, I developed a respectful amateur's admiration for the serious work of Bob and Linda Braidwood, and had occasion to meet much of their family, all of whom more than passed muster. The fact that Bob Braidwood could trace his family to the same part of Canada that my respectable ancestors called home was certainly a bonus.

Over time, I learned of a Linda Braidwood book entitled Digging Beyond the Tigris, which I read first in 1998, and have just returned to McGill's Library after a second scan. It is hard to find for purchase, but was wisely accessioned by any number of libraries, which I believe can be regionally-accessed here. I am likely only slightly less probable a feminist than I am a woman, but I first read this book with women like Betty Friedan on my mind. What strikes me, now as then, about Linda's book is her matter-of-fact, dare one say Midwestern, tone. Obviously, she must have known that her world--raising a family in the middle of Kurdistan with World War II far from a distant memory--was a bit different, or she would not have bothered with the book. However, it is entirely clear of complaint or special pleading, and is, in my view, an incomparable record of a woman born well before women could vote who went on to observe the sexual revolution, the ERA, and a dozen other supremely-important social developments. I heartily recommend taking it out of your nearest library, and, for those who can, putting it on curricula.

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