Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown

Not Pretty Enough The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown A bold and deeply researched biography of a complicated cultural icon When Helen Gurley Brown published Sex and the Single Girl in it sold than two million copies in just three weeks presaging

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  • Title: Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown
  • Author: Gerri Hirshey
  • ISBN: 9781524708788
  • Page: 440
  • Format: Audio
  • A bold and deeply researched biography of a complicated cultural icon.When Helen Gurley Brown published Sex and the Single Girl in 1962, it sold than two million copies in just three weeks, presaging the self help boom and helping to usher in the unapologetic self affirmation of second wave feminism Brown declared that it was okay, even imperative, to enjoy sex outsiA bold and deeply researched biography of a complicated cultural icon.When Helen Gurley Brown published Sex and the Single Girl in 1962, it sold than two million copies in just three weeks, presaging the self help boom and helping to usher in the unapologetic self affirmation of second wave feminism Brown declared that it was okay, even imperative, to enjoy sex outside of marriage that equal rights for women should extend to the bedroom that meaningful work outside the home was essential for a woman s security and self esteem The book catapulted Brown into national renown, cementing her status as a complex and divisive feminist personality And the ripple effects of her outspokenness about sex and her emphasis on friendships between women can still be seen today, on TV shows like Sex and the City and Girls, and in the magazine world as well When she died in 2012, her obituary appeared on the front page of The New York Times, which noted that the look of women s magazines today is due in no small part to her influence She may not always have been loved but she was always talked about.Brown s life story a classic American rags to riches tale is just as juicy as her controversial books In this wonderful new biography, the writer and reporter Gerri Hirshey traces Brown s path from deep in the Arkansas Ozarks to her wild single years in Los Angeles, from the New York magazine world to her Hollywood adventures with her film producer husband Along the way she became the highest paid female ad copywriter on the West Coast, and transformed Hearst s failing literary magazine, Cosmopolitan, into the female oriented global juggernaut it is today Full of firsthand accounts of Brown from some of her closest friends, including Liz Smith, Gloria Vanderbilt, Barbara Walters, and , as well as those whose paths she brushed her 1939 prom date, a sorority sister from business school, Cosmo cover girls like Beverly Johnson and Brooke Shields and writing from the woman herself, Not Pretty Enough is a vital biography that shines new light on the life of one of the most incomparable and indelible women of the twentieth century.

    One thought on “Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown”

    1. The Martha Stewart and Helen Gurley Brown's of the world interest me a great deal. In other words, women who made it in a man's world who came from poverty and had no family connections to help them rise. They did it the old fashioned way by working hard, ambition, determination, talent and more than a bit of cleverness and luck. Luck was in play but you make your own luck by being prepared when opportunity knocks. I admire these women; they were tough and they didn't whine, they just kept getti [...]

    2. As a white male of Medicare age, I may not seem the ideal candidate to review “Not Pretty Enough,” by Gerri Hirshey, the first in-depth biography of Helen Gurley Brown, the best-selling author and legendary editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. But this is personal. Having spent a week with Helen as her book PR rep--the event was reported by Joan Didion in the Saturday Evening Post in 1965 (bit/29RZGQS) and nearly 50 years later by me in 2012 (bit/29RWQLX)--this in-depth multifaceted biography ca [...]

    3. I started reading Cosmopolitan magazine as a child. I don't remember how I acquired a copy of it, but back then, it was a literary magazine, known for it's short stories and works by well known authors. I can't even imagine such a thing in today's market. It was delicious to read. You could spend a month on it. Then Helen Gurley Brown took over and it was cleavage, wrap dresses, sex, sex, fixing your apartment in shades of moss green, hot pink and white and food to eat in between sex. This was a [...]

    4. I have a mixed relationship with modern day Cosmopolitan magazine, but there is no denying that Helen Gurley Brown was one of a kind when she took the helm, as editor, back in the 60s.I was looking forward to learning more about Brown and Not Pretty Enough provides that. It is an in-depth look at Brown life from childhood to her death in 2012. It is meticulously researched. Unfortunately, Gerri Hirshey’s writing style isn’t for me. It feels like a text book; dry and lacking in the very spark [...]

    5. An intriguing look into a time when women were slowly gaining freedom in their personal lives and the woman who helped change things for single women of her day. I would have given a higher rating but this felt too drawn out, with things that could have been summarized in sentences, stretched out to chapters.

    6. Interesting book that gets into the life of Helen Gurley Brown who was the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine for decades. Her story fascinates me because she grew up in the depression, went to the workplace when it was similar to the Mad Men atmosphere of the 1950's and found her own way to empowerment and you could argue through her version of feminism she inspired a lot of other women to advocate for themselves- She was born dirt poor in Arkansas. Her father was killed in an elevator accident at [...]

    7. I enjoyed this book far more than I expected to. I began it with a feeling that it would be boring, and that I would give it a try and drop it. But it was fascinating, and so well written that I am putting this author's other biographies on my 'to read' list. Helen's life reflected so many of our societal upheavals - the sexual revolution, the women's movement, the AIDS crisis - that re-examining them through the lens of her life was an engrossing experience. Here was a woman who was not always [...]

    8. An exhaustive view of a groundbreaking womanI came to read this book after reading Sex and the Single Girl and wanted to know about HGB. This book provides an exhaustive overview of her long life, warts and all. I learned a lot about her and my respect for what she did for women is increased-though I wish the modern Cosmo was more like her vision(hers wasn’t so nearly as sex-obsessed as it is now)

    9. Wonderful, insightful look at the unapologetic, life-force-of-a-woman Helen Gurley Brown. I really enjoyed this in-depth view at her early life and background prior to helming Cosmopolitan Magazine. I received this book via Giveaways and am so grateful to have been able to read (and review) it!

    10. If you liked Helen Gurley Brown, than you will enjoy reading this. What I remember most of her was that she was worked at Cosmopolitan’s as editor from 1965 until 1997. Plus I have almost all of her books, and if I don't have them I read than all. She was one of the reason why I started to read Cosmopolitan.

    11. It was lengthy and detailed but the writing was good and it told the story I was curious about. I would have given it four stars but I tired of the writing style which seemed to mimic HGB's. I didn't realize how much I was into it until I teared up during the epilogue "Take Me to the Ozarks". A nice ending.

    12. I feel sorry for the reviewers who found this wonderfully crafted biography"dry" or "too long." I loved the way I could sink into it and vicariously experience the 90 years that made up the very rich life of its subject, a ruthlessly sexual antiheroine whose larger than life story would be unbelievable if written as fiction.I never recall reading a single issue of Cosmo, not am I interested in the people who were the New York A-List 40 years ago--or even 10 years ago when Helen Gurley Brown was [...]

    13. Because I have (and have had) a visceral revulsion to "Cosmo" for years, I expected to find more to hate in this biography of the leading light of the magazine. I was surprised to discover that there was much more to this notorious lady-- she was an early, and strong proponent of women's right to work and abortion (as well as sexual liberation, but we all knew that!), and her paths crossed with an incredible constellation of women "stars"-- writers, celebrities, and others-- in both positive and [...]

    14. This is the definitive biography of Helen Gurley Brown. She grew up in a "man's world", where she was her bosses actually took away a third of her pay at an advertising agency, because the "men" were complaining she made more than them. She was the original "Samantha Jones", of "Sex and the City". She was very much ahead of her time. She was born in rural Arkansas, but made her way up the secretarial ladder with over 17 jobs in Los Angeles, before becoming a copy editor, and marrying David Brown [...]

    15. I enjoyed this biography of HGB and learning about where she came from and how she got to be the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine in the early 1970's. Her early life was hard due to the death of her father and her family struggled to make ends meet. The relationship with her mother was also complicated and colored her whole life and self image. I found it fascinating that for all of her cutting edge ideas about women and sexuality, she was closed minded to many of the social issues affecting our [...]

    16. Helen Gurley Brown's book about lesbians might be the most entertaining nonfiction that never actually got written.Brown's proposal for such a book as a follow-up to her 1962 debut advice guide, "Sex and the Single Girl," is almost a throwaway detail about halfway through "Not Pretty Enough," Gerri Hirshey's new biography of the legendary Cosmopolitan magazine editor. It's just one of many illuminating details uncovered by Hirshey that link Brown to modern conversations about relationships, the [...]

    17. This book describes the rise of Helen Gurley Brown from a poverty stricken dysfunctional family in rural Arkansas to the successful head of Cosmopolitan Magazine in New York City. It describes the difficulty of a well qualified woman to succeed in a male dominated industry. While I could not condone Helen's views of morality and sex I have to admire her determination to succeed and overcome her upbringing. She certainly earned it from her dedication to hard work right up to the end of her life.I [...]

    18. Helen Gurley Brown has a fascinating life story but this author's writing style leaves much to be desired. I can't figure out if she's trying too hard to fit an actual history lesson into the story, fit Helen's story into the events of the day or she's interjecting too much of her personal opinion. Whatever it is, it's not smooth or seamless. While I'm only half way through the book I felt compelled to read the current reviews and write a review so soon because this writing style is so unusual a [...]

    19. I was around 12 or 13 when I read Sex and the Single Girl. This was 1973ish, about a decade after it was written and it was already pretty dated. Still, I kind of enjoyed Helen's voice, silly as it was, and I enjoyed this bio about her, silly as she was. What's wrong with being silly, anyway? And her life's work - showing women how to enjoy their lives and work and bodies on their own terms was NOT silly, not at all.

    20. More a 3.5 rating really. I'm glad I read about Helen's tough childhood and how she financially supported her family when she shouldn't have been. What a fascinating woman she was. I'm happy to have "known her" just a bit since was I used to be a longtime COSMO reader.

    21. This was a very well written & entertaining book about a woman who many people just don't know what to think of. So many bios get lost in the minutiae of fats and dates. Hirshey does an exellent job of presenting the essence of HGB and breathing life into her story.

    22. Pretty good enoughLots of fun stories about HGB and her rise (and fall) in the New York publishing world. An enjoyable read.

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