Books: The Friedan Mystique

In a frank new memoir, the feminist pioneer reveals that her public life took a private toll

Betty Friedan calls herself a "bad-tempered bitch." She is incommunicado before 10 a.m. She will not pose on a seesaw with her grandchildren for a photo ("too hokey"), and she is prone to temper tantrums. Yet sitting on the deck of her son's home in Philadelphia, grandchildren running around with buckets washing the family dog, she is comfortably in her element. "It's all about family," she says in that familiar gravely voice.

It all seems a long way from 1963, when her seminal book, The Feminine Mystique, appeared. When she addressed my freshman class the following year at a small New...

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