Zimmerman, Jean 1957-
Zimmerman, Jean 1957-
Born 1957; married Gil Reavill; children: Maud. Education: Graduated from Princeton University, 1979.
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 husband, 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.
The Women of the House: How a Colonial She-merchant Built a Mansion, a Fortune, and a Dynasty, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.
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 for 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 for 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."
Zimmerman continues her trend of writing from a feminist perspective in her 2006 work, The Women of the House: How a Colonial She-merchant Built a Mansion, a Fortune, and a Dynasty, described by Publishers Weekly reviewer Tessa L.H. Minchew as a "tale of the American dream with a feminine twist." "This extraordinary story of an American dynasty founded and perpetuated by women," as Margaret Flanagan put it in a review for Booklist, chronicles the rise of Margaret Hardenbroeck, who, when she died in 1691, was allegedly the richest woman in the English province of New York. Hardenbroeck was an ambitious Dutch immigrant who moved to New Amsterdam determined to make her fortune in the New World. Over the thirty years she spent in Colonial America, she acquired a fleet of ships, which she used for trafficking various goods, she amassed a sizable real estate empire, and earned the reputation of being a shrewd business woman. The book also delves into the lives of the three women that lived in Hardenbroeck's mansion, Philipse Manor Hall—which she bought with her second husband Frederick Philipse in 1682—in the years following her death. A critic for Kirkus Reviews, felt that the book heads in many directions but never really arrives anywhere: "Sometimes it seems like the chronicle of a house, sometimes the story of four well-heeled women, sometimes a history of early New York." However, Roger Bishop, writing for BookPage, believed that "anyone interested in the Colonial period will enjoy The Women of the House. Jean Zimmerman's extraordinary research and energetic writing helps readers better understand and appreciate the roles played by women during that era."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
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 Tailspin: Women at War in the Wake of Tailhook, pp. 1619-20; July 1, 2006, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Women of the House: How a Colonial She-Merchant Built a Mansion, a Fortune, and a Destiny, p. 26.
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; June 15, 2006, review of The Women of the House, p. 630.
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; June 1, 2006, Tessa L.H. Minchew, review of The Women of the House, p. 137.
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 with author, 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; May 1, 2006, review of The Women of the House, p. 48.
Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2006, review of The Women of the House.
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.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (August 14, 2007), Roger Bishop, review of The Women of the House.
Education World Web site,http://www.educationworld.com/ (June 30, 2004), "Curriculum: Girls and Sports—A Winning Combination!," interview with author.
Princeton Alumni Weekly Online,http://www.princeton.edu/ (June 30, 2004), Robin L. Michaelson, review of Tailspin.
SportsJones.com,http://www.sportsjones.com/ (June 30, 2004), Megan Jones, review of Raising Our Athletic Daughters.
Women's Soccer World Web site,http://www.womenssoccer.com/ (June 30, 2004), Judith Phillips Rogers, review of Raising Our Athletic Daughters.