AN OLD WIFE'S TALE: My Seven Decades in Love and War
Author: Midge Decter
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
August 2002

>From Barnes & Noble Editors
Midge Decter, the politically incorrect author of The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women's Liberation, now recounts her own long, busy, and adventurous life. Decter's outspokenness and narrative skills could renew any "old wife's tale."

>From the Publisher
This beautifully written book offers a memorable chronicle of American life since the 1940s that would be hard to match in sweep, unconventional thought, and hard-won wisdom on subjects ranging from the relations between the sexes to the relations between America and the world.

One of the nation's most renowned female conservatives, Midge Decter is known for her frequently controversial stands on modern social issues. An Old Wife's Tale is her thoughtful examination of the lives of American women and men over the last 60 years, as viewed through the lens ofher own life. >From stories of her youth during World War II-when Dectoer and her friends learned that "only the class beauty and the class tramp had no difficulty with the dating system"-to a surprising and often hilarious picture of what the Fifties were really like, to an account of her later roles as single mother, publishing executive, happily married woman, political iconoclast, and doting grandmother, Decter paints a singular portrait of a life lived on the front lines of American culture.

>From the Critics
>From Publishers Weekly
Under cover of a memoir, Decter, a politically conservative columnist and author (Liberal Parents, Radical Children), has a lot of fun railing at two of her favorite targets: feminists and communists. A right wing fixture in many debates with feminists (whom she refers to as "libbers") in the 1970s, she still can't figure out what possible complaint women could harbor against their position in society. Although she obviously enjoyed working in the literary field while raising children, the former executive editor of Harper's now wishes she had waited until her youngest was in high school. In addition to swipes at Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and lesbians at large, she also ventures the unpopular opinion that housework is "nourishing" and blames the 1960s and '70s women's movement for self-destructive trends, such as anorexia, that afflict girls today. Her hostility toward communists led Decter to form the Committee for a Free World (now disbanded), composed of conservative thinkers, to provide journalistic support for worldwide economic and political freedom. The ideological rants in this very readable and occasionally witty account will be of great interest to many conservative readers, but Decter's personal, less caustic recollections, especially those about her four children, 10 grandchildren and longtime husband, Norman Podhoretz (also a prominent conservative intellectual), have a wider appeal. Agent, Lynne Chu. (Sept.) Forecast: Sure to attract reviews, this feisty memoir is slated for a 15-city NPR campaign and author appearances in New York City. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

>From Kirkus Reviews
Former Harper's editor Decter (The New Chastity, 1972, etc.) offers a memoir that displays her ability to cut through the blather of received opinion and her talent for cranky, narrow-minded attitudinizing. Though she waves the flag of neoconservatism, Decter can be a peddler of the kind of horse sense that feels like a cooling breeze on a hot afternoon. The most valuable of such have to do with feminist dead-ends, like the idea of all men being the enemy-a notion toxic to the project of overthrowing sexism-or Betty Friedan's woefully inaccurate take on the joy of being a male breadwinner. Decter has always believed that molds are for jello, not humans: Organizational Man? Second Sex? People aren't so neatly compartmentalized. Decter plumps for personal responsibility, good manners, respectful language-who says no?-but then she skates onto thin ice with remarks about everybody having "made his or her own bed to lie in," a sentiment denying factors such as class, race, religion, and the extremes of poverty. By the time she's heading up the Committee for the Free World and associating with the Heritage Foundation, Decter (it seems) finds her neocon credentials more important than any native intelligence. She refers to George McGovern as coming from the "hard left" and alludes to our "national anxiety attack" over Vietnam as if the nobility of that war were a foregone, undebatable conclusion. Her memory becomes selective: She recalls images of South Vietnamese pleading to be evacuated with US embassy personnel but forgets those of children screaming in the aftermath of a US napalm attack. And who knows what to make of remarks such as "lesbianism being something it is possible to outgrow" or gay men actively courting AIDS "because society is putting up so little resistance to their demands"? Decter is correct in saying that people are complex; she herself is a good example. At the same time, she's not hard to pigeonhole: file her under right wing.

DDC note: Midge Decter is married to Norman Podhoretz, author of:

Ex-Friends: Falling out with Allen Ginsberg, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Lillian Hellman, Hannah Arendt and Norman Mailer
Author: Norman Podhoretz
Publisher: Encounter Books
July 2000

My Love Affair with America: The Cautionary Tale of a Cheerful Conservative
Author: Norman Podhoretz
Publisher: Encounter Books
September 2001