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Jane Addams was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Now Citizen, Louise W. Knight's masterful biography, reveals Addams's early.
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In other words, instead of using the "finished products" found in her books, like Twenty Years at Hull-House with Autobiographical Notes or Democracy and Social Ethics , as the text from which both to understand and to assess Addams's contributions, Knight traces the moral and intellectual struggle facing Addams as she makes choices about how to live her life.

Readers have no doubt about the significant influence of Addams's family.

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Specifically, Knight underscores the importance of John Huy Addams, Jane's father, and demonstrates how he wielded considerable authority over her early religious and moral development. In addition, John's success as a businessman and politician allowed him the luxury of making sure his children, Jane included, were well-educated citizens.


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Because her mother, Sarah, died before [End Page ] Jane reached the age of three, Knight describes a shared closeness between Jane and her father that was disrupted when John remarried in Knight also delves into the relationship between Addams and her stepmother. She contends that because Anna Hostetter Haldeman Addams believed women ought to adhere to traditional norms of feminine decorum, Jane often found herself at odds with the ideas and expectations of her stepmother. Indeed, Knight identifi es many ways in which Anna's dominant personality shaped Jane's actions as a young adult, and how Jane's decision to found Hull House created a semipermanent break between the two women.

Though occasionally laborious, by the end of "The Given Years, —88," readers have a clear view of a woman who was constrained in certain ways by her upbringing, but then rejected the shackles of those ideological constraints.

As Knight writes, Addams's doubts about her new path "had not fallen away or been dissolved by fate; they had been removed by Jane herself" In some senses, "Part Two: The Chosen Life, —99" provides a much more compelling story than the first part of Citizen. Whereas the background provided in the first part of the book is essential to understanding the significance of Addams It touches on her sexuality and how it was common for women of the time to enter into "Boston marriages" which although not legal were perfectly socially acceptable.

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Reading about this made me feel like we have take giant steps back an forward with GLBT rights. But Jane Addam I started knowing nothing about Jane Addams' history or how Hull House originally started, but this book has not only given me a wealth of information about both those subjects but also of late 19th century life in general. But Jane Addams was certainly a pioneer and reading this biography does a great job of highlighting why and also introducing us to the other women who helped make Hull House a success.

Sep 15, Sheila rated it liked it. This is probably not the book I'd recommend for that purpose.

Citizen: Jane Addams and the struggle for democracy.

It focused on her early years rather than a full retrospective. It also was very focused on the evolution of our philosophy and ethics.

For someone more interested in moral absolutism vs moral relativism, that would be great but it was too much treatment of that topic for me. Jan 07, Ellen rated it really liked it. I'm a sucker for biography and a sucker for Jane Addams and Chicago history so it not really surprising that I liked this book. It did however take me a while to get into it, but once I did I found it to be a good exploration of how JA came to her understanding of democracy and the role of women in public life.

Aug 02, Rachel rated it liked it. This was a good introduction to Jane Addams, but with the amount she quoted J. Jan 06, Autumn rated it really liked it. So far, the book is great, but I am going to set it aside for awhile simply because it has been languishing on my currently reading list and although I pick it up now and then, it deserves more attention than I am currently giving it.

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Nov 22, Sissy marked it as to-read Shelves: Dense, editorial voice was very dry - did not offer any new angles and since I am well versed on Jane Addams I let this pass by. Nov 24, Kathleen Boozang added it. I so enjoyed getting a deeper understanding of the role of settlement houses as well as the theology that inspired them. Chicago has a truly fascinating history.

Feb 13, Michael rated it really liked it. Provides information in regards to Jane Addams the 'founding mother' of social work. Truly tried to bring about change on a micro and macro level. Christopher rated it it was ok May 27, Maureen rated it really liked it Dec 07, Erika rated it really liked it Mar 19, Nicole Lasky rated it liked it Jan 06, Mary rated it really liked it May 08, Jason rated it it was amazing Jan 30, Jason rated it it was amazing Jun 23, Michele rated it it was ok Jun 20, Nikkoth rated it really liked it Mar 20, Angela Colmone rated it liked it Feb 21, Kara Boucher rated it liked it Jul 25, Hanna Newby rated it really liked it Jan 24, These experiences, Knight makes clear, transformed Addams.

Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy

Always a believer in democracy as an abstraction, Addams came to understand that this national ideal was also a life philosophy and a mandate for civic activism by all. As her story unfolds, Knight astutely captures the enigmatic Addams's compassionate personality as well as her flawed human side. Written in a strong narrative voice, Citizen is an insightful portrait of the formative years of a great American leader.

We know a great deal about Jane Addams the public figure.

Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy, Knight

We know relatively little about how she made the transition from the 19th century to the 20th. Citizen is written neither to make money nor to gain academic tenure; it is a gift, meant to enlighten and improve. Jane Addams would have understood.