Zimmerman, Jean

views updated



Female; married Gil Reavill; children: Maud. Education: Graduated from Princeton University, 1979.


Home—Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Free Press, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.


Journalist and author.


Prize for poetry, Academy of Poets, 1985.


(With Felice N. Schwartz) Breaking with Tradition: Women and Work, the New Facts of Life, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1992.

(With husband, Gil Reavill) Manhattan, photography by Michael Yamashita, Compass American Guides (Oakland, CA), 1994, third edition, 1999.

Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995.

(With Gil Reavill) Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls' Lives, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Kate Figes) Life after Birth: What Even Your Friends Won't Tell You about Motherhood, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth, Free Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times, New York Daily News, and Houston Chronicle.


Many of author and freelance journalist Jean Zimmerman's books present a strong, assured feminist perspective on their subject matter. Her books focus on topics such as helping the upcoming generation of women adopt a positive body image through athletics; challenging the status quo of women's roles; and, when necessary, sometimes reclaiming old roles once thought obsolete.

Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook carefully examines the Tailhook scandal of the early 1990s and its direct effect on the expansion of roles for women in the U.S. military, particularly in combat. At the 1991 convention of the Tailhook Association, retired and active-duty military personnel gathered as they had many times before. "Over the years, Tailhook conventions had developed some significance as military symposiums and became important venues for military contractors, but they were also an opportunity for junior officers to party," wrote Neal Conan in the New York Times. Fueled by alcohol and charged with a celebratory atmosphere following the first Gulf War, a raucous party degenerated into fondling, groping, and sexual assault of female officers and personnel. Senior officers present at the party did nothing to stop it, the subsequent investigation by the navy was stymied from the inside, and those punishments that were meted out were ineffective. According to Zimmerman, the cause of the Tailhook scandal was the ban on women in combat positions. This ban led to the perception of combat roles within the military as a "men-only" club.

Robin L. Michaelson, writing on the Princeton Alumni Weekly Web site, called Tailspin "a fascinating yet disturbing account that Zimmerman researched with the Navy's cooperation, conducting nearly 500 formal interviews and going aboard several vessels. The result is a detailed, well-written narrative that blends character sketches, historical background, and analysis." Conan remarked that Zimmerman "vividly explains how the decision to end the legal ban on women in combat stems directly from the Tailhook scandal and argues persuasively that 'measured against virtually any historical or cultural time line, it signals a fundamental shift in the relations between the sexes.'" A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Tailspin "an angry book by a freelance investigative journalist of the first rank."

In Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls' Lives, written with her husband, Gil Reavill, Zimmerman explores the many positive benefits of sports and athletics on the physical and psychological well-being of girls and young women. Pat Swift, writing in the Buffalo News, commented that "in this book sports are almost a miracle drug. They not only make girls healthier and improve their body image, athletics help teen-agers skirt the low self-esteem stage, cope with anxieties of adolescence, deal with fractious family problems and, for many disadvantaged children, escape the dead-end world of poverty, drugs and crime." The book also indicated a link between athletics and improved academic performance.

A reviewer in the Piedmont Triad News and Record observed that Reavill and Zimmerman "clearly were familiar with the research on the benefit of sport for girls; they interpreted the research in light of their own and others' observations and experiences; and they communicated good information and advice in a clear, realistic and very readable manner." Raising Our Athletic Daughters "is good reading for anyone interested in the well-being of young girls," noted Jim and Elaine Schumacher in the Albuquerque Journal. A Publishers Weekly reviewer stated that the authors "make an articulate and convincing case that sports help many young women, and could help more."

Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth examines women's traditional roles from a feminist perspective. Barbara Haber, writing in Women's Review of Books, noted that "Zimmerman is convinced that revaluing traditional women's work, in the kitchen as well as at the quilting table, is a feminist act. She believes that the successes of feminism now allow for a broadening of its scope to include a renewed regard for the place of homemaking in women's history." Zimmerman includes details on the history of homemaking, the home economics movement, the conflicts that exist between feminism and homemaking, the deterioration of cooking skills in America, and the nearly vanished state of home cooking and needlecraft in American households. "Zimmerman herself initially disdained all things domestic," commented a Kirkus Reviews critic, "but now she proposes that women 'take back' domesticity."

Made from Scratch explores the practical role of domesticity in ancient times to the perception of domestic life in current popular culture. "Zimmerman's book is an impressive academic undertaking on domesticity in mythology and history," commented Paula N. Arnold in Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked, "Though the book's gender politics may raise a few hackles, the author offers a thoughtful and engaging defense of domesticity."



Albuquerque Journal, February 21, 1999, Jim and Elaine Schumacher, review of Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls' Lives, p. F6.

Booklist, May 15, 1995, Mary Carroll, review of Tail-spin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook, pp. 1619-1620.

Buffalo News, November 14, 1998, Pat Swift, "It's No Surprise: Athletics Linked to Higher Grades," p. A9.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2003, review of Made from Scratch: Reclaiming the Pleasures of the American Hearth, p. 374.

Library Journal, June 15, 1995, Helen Rippier, review of Tailspin, p. 84; November 1, 1998, Kathryn Ruffle, review of Raising Our Athletic Daughters, p. 93; April 15, 2001, Kay Brodie, review of Life after Birth: What Even Your Friends Won't Tell You about Motherhood, p. 122; May 15, 2003, Paula N. Arnold, review of Made from Scratch, p. 374.

Los Angeles Times, May 19, 1995, Achy Obejas, review of Tailspin, p. E4.

Ms., July-August, 1995, Alex Giardino, review of Tailspin, p. 76.

News and Record (Piedmont Triad, NC), June 20, 2000, review of Raising Our Athletic Daughters, p. C7.

New York Times, April 4, 2004, Tina Kelley, "The Athletic Body As an Ideal for Girls" (interview), section L.

New York Times Book Review, June 4, 1995, Neal Conan, review of Tailspin, p. 30.

Publishers Weekly, April 10, 1995, review of Tailspin, p. 51; September 21, 1998, review of Raising Our Athletic Daughters, pp. 69-70; April 16, 2001, review of Life after Birth, p. 58; February 24, 2003, review of Made from Scratch, p. 59.

San Francisco Chronicle, February 26, 1995, "Ah, Manhattan," p. MAG10; June 25, 1995, Susan Yoachum, "The Navy, before and after Tailhook," p. REV3.

USA Today, November 5, 1998, review of Raising Our Athletic Daughters, p. D9.

Washington Post Book World, August 13, 1995, Ann Grimes, review of Tailspin, p. 6.

Women's Review of Books, December, 1995, Laura Flanders, review of Tailspin, pp. 20-21; October, 2003, Barbara Haber, review of Made from Scratch, pp. 23-25.


Education World Web site,http://www.educationworld.com/ (June 30, 2004), "Curriculum: Girls and Sports—A Winning Combination!" (interview).

Princeton Alumni Weekly Online,http://www.princeton.edu/ (June 30, 2004), Robin L. Michael-son, review of Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook.

SportsJones.com,http://www.sportsjones.com/ (June 30, 2004), Megan Jones, review of Raising Our Athletic Daughters: How Sports Can Build Self-Esteem and Save Girls' Lives.

Women's Soccer World Web site,http://www.womenssoccer.com/ (June 30, 2004), Judith Phillips Rogers, review of Raising Our Athletic Daughters.*

About this article

Zimmerman, Jean

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article