Bachelor Girl: The Secret History of Single Women in the Twentieth Century - Betsy Israel An interesting read, but Bachelor Girl suffered from two major issues that kept popping up in the back of my brain while I read. First, it had a tendency to feel like propaganda, and this was in no way lessened by the author's "disclaimer" at the beginning that it's impossible to deal with the subject matter without sounding a bit feminist. Second, 99% of the book felt like a warning against being single for too long. There was a heavy emphasis on the negative viewpoints and very little presented to show the other side, the pros that kept drawing women into this lifestyle beyond the simple "know and keep my own mind" mantra. When the positives were addressed, they were a quick one or two sentences tossed off and left on their own, dismissed with little analysis. And at the end, when Israel struggles to end this on a positive note (don't worry, you'll still put it down feeling like this married woman just spent 264 pages telling you to enjoy being single when you're young, but it's really just better to get married once you're not), she gives us the example of Ally McBeal as a healthy single woman to aspire to.

Really? A neurotic anorexic who spent more time chasing men than doing her actual job? That's the best the author could come up with? Very disappointing.

A third point: this is horribly documented. Quotes are cut all to hell (I counted nearly a dozen ellipses in the space of a three line quote at one point), and supporting sources are limited in the text. The source lists at the back are little better.

This could have been so good, too. Israel writing style is light and flows easily, and if she had put in some more effort, this had the potential to be a great study. But it felt like laziness, a general skimming of the most shallow stereotypes in history that ignored whole swathes of the reality. Interesting, but very far from an in-depth study, and as a "history," it's greatly lacking.