Crossing: A Memoir
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Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Crossing by Deirdre N. Crossing by Deirdre N. We have read the stories of those who have "crossed" lines of race and class and culture. But few have written of crossing—completely and entirely—the gender line. Crossing is the story of Deirdre McCloskey formerly Donald , once a golden boy of conservative economics and a child of s and s privilege, and her dramatic and poignant journey to becoming a woman.
McCl We have read the stories of those who have "crossed" lines of race and class and culture. McCloskey's account of her painstaking efforts to learn to "be a woman" unearth fundamental questions about gender and identity, and hatreds and anxieties, revealing surprising answers. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title.
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Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. In , economics professor Donald McCloskey's second child had gone off to college, and in the empty nest he indulged a little bit more in a habit of decades: cross-dressing. But with the new freedom he found it wasn't just an isolated habit and he wanted to take it further and further, become more and more a woman: by the end of the year he'd changed his name to Deirdre and was living full-time as a woman, and by summer of Deirdre had gone to Australia for The Operation.
His wife had div In , economics professor Donald McCloskey's second child had gone off to college, and in the empty nest he indulged a little bit more in a habit of decades: cross-dressing. His wife had divorced her he was already a she , his daughter wouldn't talk to her—but in his profession and elsewhere, Deirdre found new support and friends. Deirdre McCloskey doesn't want to get in your face about gender roles; she just wants to tell what it's like to want to become a woman, and then to actually do it.
She tells the book in the third person, giving clear attribution to Donald's thoughts and experiences, Deirdre's, and those of "Dee" the interim stage.
It's a very quickly written book—it came out in , less than two years after the last events it recounts—but that comes across not as sloppiness so much as looseness and lightness in the structure and a clear sense that there was no editing or censoring of what's on the page. This is what Deirdre thinks, period. As Deirdre the economist might say: either you find it of value, or you don't. She's thrilled about the new social avenues and acknowledgements open to her, less thrilled about learning makeup and worrying about passing. She's grateful for the easy acceptance of her sex change in academic circles, distraught over her family's rejection including twice being arrested and committed for psychiatric evaluation, at her sister's instigation.
It's hard not to read this book as an action thriller, where the protagonist's goal is simply to make the crossing safely from hero to heroine. Several times, in fact, McCloskey brings up immigrants and others who managed "crossings" which she sees as more courageous—and, going by this example, changing sex really shouldn't be that big a deal. A fascinating memoir. McCloskey, a successful economics professor, transitioned to a woman in middle age, and she tells this story with great emotion and candor.
She has strong ideas about what it means to be a woman, what it is to be feminine, and many will find this frustrating as I often did , but it is also entirely understandable.
He describes similar ambivalence to the workers' strikes in East Germany and the Prague Spring. In each case Grossman criticizes the conditions that led to the respective movements, and condemns governments that lost touch with citizens. He found "socialism with a human face" a beautiful idea, one of urgent necessity in the GDR. However, he reluctantly supported the moves to suppress these movements. The overall danger to socialism in Eastern Europe was too great; what some called liberty, he saw as a return to capitalism. For Grossman, the end justified the means. Preserving socialism necessitated suppressing reform groups as long as the west sought to undermine the entire system.
The best way to understand Grossman's ambivalence is to examine his conception of freedom, of which he offers many examples. For instance, he saw more freedom in Warsaw than in the GDR, but it did not impress him. While Poles had the right to see more movies, read more western paperbacks, exercise more political independence and disobey traffic signals, he found their freedom as dispiriting as the restrictions in the GDR.
While visiting the United States in , he encountered a woman who commented on how he and his wife were able to travel freely, while she found it difficult to get away from New York. Although she lived in the freest country in the world, she was unable to move as freely as two citizens from the former GDR. Grossman defines freedom as more than a set of laws created by a government; he believed in "freedom from want," which he felt the GDR achieved reasonably well for its citizens. This kind of freedom fostered safe streets, low, stable rents, cheap public transportation, free health care, jobs for everyone and subsidized child care.
These benefits have disappeared since , in Grossman's view, a costly tradeoff for the right to travel unhindered to the west. Grossman blames the fall of the GDR on the concerted effort by the west to undermine the Soviet bloc. Other factors contributed, of course, one of which he describes in some detail in a chapter focusing on the country's unraveling during the s. The political, economic and social system was too rigid, the SED leadership ignored all critical opinions, open and engaging debate was limited, and the increasingly alienated youth were drawn towards the glamour of the west.
While Grossman allowed his children to watch West German television and discussed it with them, he found other parents as well as the country's leadership unwilling to confront a cultural offensive that eventually overwhelmed the GDR. Grossman tried to combat it via countless lectures to professional groups and unending suggestions on how to enliven history classes, May Day parades and restaurant menus. Grossman suggests that East Germans never developed an identity strong enough to resist the attractions of the west, possibly because they were bored.
Crossing the River is more than an apologia for the GDR. It is also a story of those who lost the Cold War and feel themselves on the wrong side of German reunification. They believed in the higher purpose of the GDR and regret its passing. It is very easy and perfectly reasonable to remember the crimes of the GDR, the suppression of dissent and shootings of escapees.
It would be a mistake, however, to allow our impression of these crimes to cloud and even eliminate the other stories of this state. Millions of people were associated with the former East Germany, which still forms an important part of their identity.
Their stories should be told; in telling his, Grossman tries to tell theirs. I am very proud of his effort to make the struggles of our country understandable. Because we, as Americans, are inextricably bound to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, this book is also a history of all our liuves. Meticulously honest and clear-headed in that dharmic way, Crossing Three Wildernesses will surekly take its place among those books we must read to understand what it means to be fully who we are. This is a trukly brave story, shaped and fine-tuned into an engaging and ultimately moving book.
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