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ePub A fine old conflict download

by Jessica Mitford

ePub A fine old conflict download
Jessica Mitford
Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (1977)
Politics & Government
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A Fine Old Conflict book.

A Fine Old Conflict book. A Fine Old Conflict is the second of Mitford's lively and witty autobiographies; Daughters and Rebels covered her childhood as the fifth of the Mitford sisters and her elopement with and marriage to Esmond Romilly, and A Fine Old Conflict picks up the story just before Romilly's death in action in World War II.

Jessica Lucy 'Decca' Freeman-Mitford (11 September 1917 – 22 July 1996) was an English author, one of the six aristocratic Mitford sisters noted for their sharply conflicting politics. Jessica, who represented the far left, married her second cousin Esmond Romilly, killed in World War II, and then American civil rights lawyer Robert Treuhaft, with whom she joined the American Communist Party and worked closely in the Civil Rights Congress.

The most valuable thing in 'A Fine Old Conflict' is its description of the febrile social life of your rank-and-file Communist Party member during the 1940s and 50s. If you were a Communist journalist or a lawyer (or whatever) you had instant connections and comradeship with all sorts of strangers.

Her heroine is Jessica Mitford. Decca Mitford lived a larger-than-life life: born into the British aristocracy-one of the famous (and sometimes infamous) Mitford sisters-she ran away to Spain during the Spanish Civil War with her cousin Esmond Romilly, Winston Churchill’s nephew, then came to America, became a tireless political activist and a member of the Communist Party, and embarked on a brilliant career.

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Author:Mitford, Jessica. Book Binding:Hardback. We appreciate the impact a good book can have

Author:Mitford, Jessica. We appreciate the impact a good book can have. We all like the idea of saving a bit of cash, so when we found out how many good quality used books are out there - we just had to let you know! Read full description. See details and exclusions. Fine Old Conflict by Jessica Mitford (Hardback, 1977). Pre-owned: lowest price.

by. Mitford, Jessica, 1917-.

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  • Author Jessica Mitford was the lefty among the famous Mitford sisters. Born into the British aristocracy in the first decades of the 20th century, schooled at home, and destined for marriage to aristocrats, they were having none of it--except, ironically, Jessica, who did elope with her cousin -- to the Spanish Civil War.

    A Fine Old Conflict is a chronicle of Mitford's years as a member of the American Communist Party. It picks up where Hons and Rebels (also published in the US as Daughters and Rebels), her memoir of her youth and marriage, leaves off. It portrays the Communist Party's big picture -- where the Party stood in relation to world Communism, world events, and US politics over the course of the 1950s and early 1960s. And, with Mitford's irrepressible humor and joie de guerre, it fills in the details of day-to-day Party participation, the fund-raising, secrecy, organizing, socializing and confrontation. Students of American history will especially appreciate the chapters about civil rights and the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

    Although Jessica Mitford was an unabashed and dedicated member of the Communist Party, by this account she was never a blind follower of its doctrine, and her chapter about Stalin and her parting with the Party offer a sober counterbalance to her earlier devotion.

    The American Way of Death established Mitford's reputation as a muckraker -- and she never shirks on research -- but it is her buoyant humor that makes whatever difficult subject she takes on a pleasure to read about. A Fine Old Conflict is out of print and hard to find, but well worth the search.

  • Sydney Mitford, Jessica's mother, believed a woman should only make news twice-when she married and when she died. How incredibly different her vision for her second youngest daughter's life must have been compared to what it turned out to be! After running away from hope and eloping, Jessica and her first husband Esmond ditched their aristocratic British roots and moved to America. Upon his death, Jessica decided to stay in America rather than return to her (Nazi sympathizing) family during the second world war. That's where A Fine Old Conflict picks up.

    This book is warm and funny like Hons & Rebels, but it is thicker and therefore contains much more. Jessica resigns herself to a boring life in Washington DC with her two year old daughter Dinky, content to make the best of it as a single mom. Until, that is, she meets an alarmingly kindred spirit in Bob Treuhaft-a red civil rights lawyer who comes off as rather an unsung hero throughout. Scared of her feelings and still sad over Esmond's death, she runs away yet again to California. An adorable romance ensues between Jessica and Bob, who moves all the way out to California on a whim after visiting. The two are wonderfully fit for one another, both with a teasing attitude and a sense of civil justice that makes you wish you knew them.

    The real plot thickening, though, starts when the Treuhafts join the Communist Party officially. Jessica takes an overwhelmingly humourous look back on the party (so much so that she upset many of her old friends from the CP upon publishing) but one can tell that she does not regret having joined it. The many good deeds of the Communist Party were completely unknown to me, while the horrifying stuff did not come as a suprise. When the CIA started eeking Jessica out of jobs I knew it was going to be a scrap. Bob's testimony at the "trial" was by far the best part of the whole book. He is rather under-written about in the many Mitford bios, but if this book is accurate he was downright brave.

    The Treuhafts were rather remarkable. Twenty years before the civil rights movement, they were one of the very few people of their time who actively fought against injustices against African Americans. Bob's mother, who comes to visit about halfway through the memoir remarks woefully to Jessica "I wish I was black, then you would love me". Bob, who was Jewish, never met Jessica's sisters Unity and Diana who were friends of Hitler. Jessica's daughter Dinky bit ones hand if you put it in front of her for too long, and called it a "filthy German".

    Of course, this memoir is not a very intimate one. None of the Mitford girls were particularly fond of overt emoition, but Jessica was even less so. She does not, for example, mention the birth or death of her son Nicky during the time period this book takes place, because she found it too painful to write about. It's not distracting, even if you know about it, but what is a bit annoying is Jessica's vagueness about her beliefs. She never says really why she leaves the Communist Party, or even why she joined it in the first place. You would know nothing of her idealogy by reading this book; it simply isn't there. So, if you're looking for an in-depth, searching account of a troubled soul, you might want to look elsewhere. However if you want an amusing and warm account of an interesting life, A Fine Old Conflict is your book.

  • Starting with the title's mondegreen, this is a wonderfull autobiography by one of the wittiest British politicized intellectuals.

  • (I did not buy this at Amazon. No, no; I bought it for $2.00 from the unwanted-book bin outside the Epiphany branch of the New York Public Library 8 or 9 years ago! Excellent investment, this very foxed 1978 paperback from Vintage Books [i.e., Random House]. I suppose I was taken in mostly by the excellent Ed Sorel cover art. It's a parody of a classical-kitsch painting called "The Storm" by Pierre Auguste Cot, showing two young lovers running and shielding themselves under a piece of cloth. In the Sorel version we have Jessica and her husband Bob Treuhaft as the lovers, protecting themselves under the Soviet flag.)

    The slim Jessica Mitford body of work somehow seems broader and more engaging with every passing year. For decades she was regarded as a distinctly minor member of the Mitford family, lacking the looks and social chic of Diana, the notoriety of Unity, the nobility of Debo (Duchess of Devonshire and Kennedy in-law); and far behind the literary fame of eldest sister Nancy Mitford, the novelist. For most of her life she was noted for one supercilious book on the mortuary industry, 'The American Way of Death' (1963). She also wrote a memoir of her family called 'Hons and Rebels' ('Daughters and Rebels' in the American edition), which looked very slight in 1960 but is now treated as Primary Source in any treatment of the Mitford family.

    As I recall, "Decca" Mitford's biggest media splash was a cover story in the Atlantic Monthly. This was her expose of the Famous Writers School of Westport, Connecticut, published as the July 1970 cover article. Titled "Let Us Now Praise Famous Writers," this arrived with another excellent cover drawing by Ed Sorel, wherein Will Shakespeare, Gus Flaubert, and other immortals sit around a board table, in parody of the full-page ads for the Famous Writers School ("We're Looking for People Who Like to Write"). It was a devastating piece, and so distressed FWS founding-father Bennett Cerf that he dispatched board member "Doctor Bergen Evans" to appear on the Dick Cavett Show, where he carefully explained that Mitford had got many minor details wrong, and moreover she was mainly motivated by embitterment at not having achieved the literary magnificence of her eldest sister, "great writer" Nancy Mitford. Poignant ironies abound here. Nancy Mitford by 1970 was largely forgotten; she was well off the American radar anyway, easily confused with Zelda Fitzgerald biographer Nancy Milford, who also appeared on the Dick Cavett Show about this time. The Famous Writers School itself collapsed and died almost immediately...or at least it moved out of town and lived under an assumed name, like Edward Saunders Bear.

    While 'Hons and Rebels' was mainly a memoir of the Mitford family in the 30s, 'A Fine Old Conflict' is true autobiography. It swiftly recaps the story of Decca's upbringing in that eccentric and noble English family, and picks up with how she found herself cast adrift in the USA after her young husband Esmond Romilly was killed early in the Second World War. She is full of good cheer and self-mockery as she recalls the series of silly jobs she had while trying to make ends meet. Before Esmond died they tried running a bar in Miami; afterwards Decca got herself hired as a "sub-eligible" typist at the Office of Price Administration. Decca writes her mother that she's met Lady Bird Johnson, which impresses mama; but who are the Bird Johnsons, and why are they in America?

    Running as always against the grain, Decca becomes enamored of a Jewish lawyer from Brooklyn named Bob Treuhaft. She is delighted to discover that he too proclaims himself a Communist. They marry and (so far as we know) they live happily ever after. Bob comes off very well in all this; his Communist leanings, like Decca's, seem more like adolescent subversiveness than a yearning to enslave the world. Off in the San Francisco Bay area after the War, they loyally back the Party but are seldom mistaken for dangerous revolutionaries. Bob's CPUSA membership gives him some passport trouble, but "leftist lawyer" is about the most provocative thing anyone ever says about him.

    Decca's literary ambitions slowly rumble and awaken. Her first published volume (self-published and mimeographed) was an extended joke about the tiresomeness of Communist Party jargon. Called 'Lifeitselfmanship,' by one Decca Treuhaft, this whole "book" is appended to this autobiography. It makes fun reading. It is in one part parody of Stephen Potter's then-popular 'One-Upmanship,' and one part a leverage upon Nancy Mitford's 'Noblesse Oblige' (about how the upper classes say "false teeth" while the middle classes say "dentures"); then there is a third layer, which is serious criticism of Communist didacticism.

    This satirical pamphlet took the Commie curse off the name Jessica Mitford. Soon she had an agent and a writing career. A few years later she published 'Hons and Rebels,' and then she followed up with 'The American Way of Death.'

    The most valuable thing in 'A Fine Old Conflict' is its description of the febrile social life of your rank-and-file Communist Party member during the 1940s and 50s. If you were a Communist journalist or a lawyer (or whatever) you had instant connections and comradeship with all sorts of strangers. Something like "Friends" on Facebook, but more reliable. You can see why Old Lefties are so militantly nostalgic about this time. Personal peccadilloes were not closely inspected: the only thing really asked of you was that you paid lip-service to the current party-line. By the early 1950s this mainly meant taking a patronizing attitude toward The Negro Problem. Any black person was regarded as a friend to the Party--be he ex-con (Leadbelly), sometime Communist (Paul Robeson), or convicted rapist (Willie McGee). Although Mitford does not spell it out here, this was a strategy to deflect anti-Communist sentiment of the McCarthy times. From what we know of the 1950s, it seems to have worked very well.

    Jessica Mitford could easily have written a book twice as long as this, if she'd fleshed out the details of her own literary career. But she shows enormous restraint here, barely mentioning her own published books and articles. She intended this as a memoir of her time in the middle-class Left Coast world of the 40s to 60s. And she sticks to the script.