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by Jean Bethke Elshtain
Jane Addams was a prolific and elegant writer. Her twelve books consist largely of published essays, but to appreciate her life work one must also read her previously uncollected speeches and editorials. This artfully compiled collection begins with Addams''s youthful Junior Class Oration on women as "Breadgivers," features thoughtful examinations of topics as diverse as "Tolstoy and Gandhi" and "The Public School and the Immigrant Child," and even includes popular essays on "The Subtle Problems of Charity," from The Atlantic Monthly, and "Need a Woman Over Fifty Feel Old?" from Ladies'' Home Journal. Along with the writings themselves, Elshtain''s insightful commentary offers powerful evidence of Addams''s remarkable ability to frame social problems in an ethical context, her unwillingness to succumb to ideological dogma, her political courage, and her lifelong devotion to civic and moral life.