Review by Choice Review
In the theoretical debates concerning German feminism, Reagin carves out a middling position for herself and defends the necessity of analyzing class as well as gender to explain why the German women's movement shifted to the right, particularly after 1918. She chooses the city of Hanover to test her thesis because it represents the more typical manifestations of grass-roots membership than do the radical extremes of Berlin, Bremen, or Hamburg. Reagin demonstrates convincingly that ideology within the movement was not so important as class in determining its politics. Ostensibly the Hanoverians were "uberparteilich, seeking to establish themselves as "mothers of the community" analogous to "city fathers." They were largely successful in expanding the public role of women in Hanover because they appeared to be efficient workers for the common good and because were able to take advantage of personal relations with the male governing elite. But Reagin sees the pose of being "above politics" for what it is--an extremely "partisan neutrality." The bourgeois members of the movement consciously inculcated bourgeois values among working-class women while working against Social Democratic influence over them. This is a sophisticated work of feminist and urban history. All levels. R. S. Levy; University of Illinois at Chicago
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.