My Life On The Road, Gloria Steinem author; narrator Debra Winger
This is not a book I would have chosen to read. I am not an ultra progressive. However, I have always considered myself to be a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. The author is nothing short of an extremist on the side of the progressives. She has written a book which is interesting about the places she visited and the people she met. Her family history is touching. Her father never liked domestic life and preferred the open road. He was known as a kind man, if not a man who was well groomed. Her mother would have liked a life in an urban setting as a journalist but seemed to sacrifice her own dreams for her family. She was emotionally challenged and could not live alone after being hospitalized with a breakdown. They rarely had a normal home or home life. Gloria’s life was challenging, but she harbors no ill will toward her family. She seems to love them and respect their different views on life.
However, the book is so left-leaning and biased that I had a hard time finishing it, and truthfully, if I had not already paid a handsome sum to hear her speak at an author breakfast in the spring, I would have walked away from it. I found many of the comments about people on the right not only unfair, but insulting. Gloria does not seem to approve of any views other than her own, and at times her words seemed hypocritical, like this obvious example when she stated that George W. Bush would not have been President without his family while mentioning nothing about Hillary Clinton hanging onto her husband’s coattails.
On the other hand, she paints a broad picture of her life of giving and fund-raising for many worthy causes like women’s rights, civil rights, and American Indian rights. She also speaks of her knowledge and relationship with Shirley Chisholm, Maxine Waters, Ho Chi Minh, Hugo Chavez and George Soros. There were times reading the book that I thought that she could rival Jane Fonda in her beliefs about several issues and in her stand on them. I will not mention them because a reader of her book should read it without anyone else’s positive or negative influence. We all come from different places and will have different emotional reactions to her past and present actions. There were times when I wondered about her remarks about America and religion, but others may not find them disturbing.
She never balked at venturing into unknown territory. She did work tirelessly for women’s issues and that effort bled into many other issues that needed reform and/or support. She covered many topics from The Hmong to effigy mounds. She campaigned for Lyndon Johnson and supported Hillary Clinton, among many other prominent liberals. She lived in an ashram, mixed with truck drivers, engaged with cab drivers and always, throughout her life attempted to find out their needs, their thoughts and their dreams. Then, if she identified with their plight, she worked hard to help further their cause, publicizing and fundraising to raise awareness. She made many friends and traveled far and wide. She espoused following your dreams so long as your dreams did not oppose her beliefs.
The book was a simple read. It was narrated by a left-“winger” of like mind and it was obvious in her presentation. Had the book not been filled with comments about those who disagreed with her obvious political positions, I might have actually liked it because of the unusual bits and pieces of information that were previously unknown to me. She should have written it for a broader audience. To me, it was nothing more than a free advertisement, promotion, or commercial for the left wing of the United States. I do not like to be hijacked into reading things that are not what I expect, and this was not what I expected. I felt that it was not about her life on the road as much as it was about having a platform to rail against those who disagreed with her so she could support the causes she favored. Her travels were interesting, her personal observations about people were insightful, but her remarks about her opposition were offensive to me. Some of the well-known people she insulted and denigrated were people for whom I have great respect. In America, we are supposed to have the ability to voice our opinions equally, and yet, it seems more and more that progressives only want to hear the sound of their own voices echoing back at them and to silence others. I thought she was a cheering squad for herself and those she appreciated, and that she placed a halo on all of their heads, including her own, while painting horns on the heads of those who opposed her.