Read Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy by Louise W. Knight Online


Jane Addams was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Now Citizen, Louise W. Knight's masterful biography, reveals Addams's early development as a political activist and social philosopher.  In this book we observe a powerful mind grappling with the radical ideas of her age, most notably the ever-changing meanings of democracy.Citizen covers the firstJane Addams was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Now Citizen, Louise W. Knight's masterful biography, reveals Addams's early development as a political activist and social philosopher.  In this book we observe a powerful mind grappling with the radical ideas of her age, most notably the ever-changing meanings of democracy.Citizen covers the first half of Addams's life, from 1860 to 1899. Knight recounts how Addams, a child of a wealthy family in rural northern Illinois, longed for a life of larger purpose. She broadened her horizons through education, reading, and travel, and, after receiving an inheritance upon her father's death, moved to Chicago in 1889 to co-found Hull House, the city's first settlement house. Citizen shows vividly what the settlement house actually was—a neighborhood center for education and social gatherings—and describes how Addams learned of the abject working conditions in American factories, the unchecked power wielded by employers, the impact of corrupt local politics on city services, and the intolerable limits placed on women by their lack of voting rights. These experiences, Knight makes clear, transformed Addams. Always a believer in democracy as an abstraction, Addams came to understand that this national ideal was also a life philosophy and a mandate for civic activism by all.As her story unfolds, Knight astutely captures the enigmatic Addams's compassionate personality as well as her flawed human side. Written in a strong narrative voice, Citizen is an insightful portrait of the formative years of a great American leader.“Knight’s decision to focus on Addams’s early years is a stroke of genius. We know a great deal about Jane Addams the public figure. We know relatively little about how she made the transition from the 19th century to the 20th. In Knight’s book, Jane Addams comes to life. . . . Citizen is written neither to make money nor to gain academic tenure; it is a gift, meant to enlighten and improve. Jane Addams would have understood.”—Alan Wolfe, New York Times Book Review“My only complaint about the book is that there wasn’t more of it. . . .  Knight honors Addams as an American original.”—Kathleen Dalton, Chicago Tribune...

Title : Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780226446998
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 598 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy Reviews

  • David Schaafsma
    2018-10-18 19:26

    The best written of all the Jane Addams biographies, in my opinion. A work of love, twenty years in the making, sentence for sentence carefully crafted.

  • Magdalen Dale
    2018-09-23 15:22

    Author details: Lucy was my professor this quarter. When she was in her thirties she asked her herself what was the thing she most wanted to do with her life. If she figured out what it was, she would do it. She realized it was to write a biography of Jane Addams, so she did. She believes the best advice she can give someone is that regardless of how unqualified you feel you are to do what you dream of doing, you should just do it. She started writing on her own, and eventually received an NEH Fellowship (after applying for one numerous times) that allowed her to just write for one whole year. The publication of this biography has opened many doors for Knight that she never imagined when she started writing it.Book details: I'm kind of in love with Jane, in the same way I'm kind of in love with myself. Err... I think she is a great, and I hope I am and can be great too. I like her religion. I like her politics. I like how her friends remember her:"She was so utterly real and first-hand, full of compassion without weakness or sentimentality...loving merriment while carrying the world's woes in her heart. A great statesman, a great writer, one of the world's rarest spirits."--Emily Green Balch

  • Gwen
    2018-10-10 22:31

    Have you ever met someone that makes you feel like you really don’t hold up your end of the bargain in being a human being? After reading this biography on Jane Addams and learning about what she felt her responsibilities were in life, that is how I feel. That may be the reason why it took me so long to read this wonderful biography. It really is a complete look at the younger years of Addams that molded her into the world figure that eventually became the Nobel Laureate for her work with the underprivileged, women’s suffrage, and labor organization. I personally felt connected to her because much of her upbringing was mirrored in my own in philosophy and proximity. I however suffer from what Addams might consider a gross lack of motivation to help me fellow man by attempting to gain a greater understanding of them.What was so remarkable about Addams was her relatively unremarkable young life. She was well-learned compared to most Americans during her upbringing, but the expectations of her family were not changed from generation to generation. Ms. Knight explores the familial relationships that Addams had as a young child, as a young woman and then finally what happened as she matured into an independent woman of middle class means. Addams did what was expected of her, but she was truly remarkable when she reached the point where she could no longer deny the things she had to any longer. I found such courage in her character.The work of Knight in her biography is both incredibly well researched—the bibliography and notes section are at least one third of the entire book—and entirely readable. I found myself going back and re-reading several passages so that I would gain further insight after addressing the notes section. Probably the most enlightening passage of the entire book was the chapter that addresses the Pullman Strike of 1894 and its aftermath’s effect on the near west-side neighborhood in which Addams worked. Ms. Knight uses this to demonstrate Addams’ true turning point to fully give herself to her life’s work both at Hull House and the causes surrounding it.Ms. Knight does not paint Addams as a saint, merely as someone who strove to better understand her fellow man so that it would in turn serve the greater good. Jane Addams had her faults, but the good she did and the energy she brought to the causes she championed help to outshine them.

  • Annie
    2018-09-24 18:21

    I started knowing nothing about Jane Addams' history or how Hull House originally started, but this book has not only given me a wealth of information about both those subjects but also of late 19th century life in general. It touches on her sexuality and how it was common for women of the time to enter into "Boston marriages" which although not legal were perfectly socially acceptable. Reading about this made me feel like we have take giant steps back an forward with GLBT rights. But Jane Addams was certainly a pioneer and reading this biography does a great job of highlighting why and also introducing us to the other women who helped make Hull House a success.

  • Sheila
    2018-10-09 18:15

    I recently realized how little I knew about Jane Addams so I decided I needed a refresher course. This is probably not the book I'd recommend for that purpose. It focused on her early years rather than a full retrospective. It also was very focused on the evolution of our philosophy and ethics. For someone more interested in moral absolutism vs moral relativism, that would be great but it was too much treatment of that topic for me.

  • Ellen
    2018-10-04 16:02

    I'm a sucker for biography and a sucker for Jane Addams and Chicago history so it not really surprising that I liked this book. It did however take me a while to get into it, but once I did I found it to be a good exploration of how JA came to her understanding of democracy and the role of women in public life.

  • Rachel
    2018-10-23 17:20

    This was a good introduction to Jane Addams, but with the amount she quoted J.A's. writing: "Twenty Years at the Hull House" I wish I would have just read that instead, so I am definitely going on my to read list.

  • Autumn
    2018-10-18 17:06

    So far, the book is great, but I am going to set it aside for awhile simply because it has been languishing on my currently reading list and although I pick it up now and then, it deserves more attention than I am currently giving it.

  • Sissy
    2018-10-11 22:28

    Dense, editorial voice was very dry - did not offer any new angles and since I am well versed on Jane Addams I let this pass by.

  • Kathleen Boozang
    2018-10-11 18:01

    I so enjoyed getting a deeper understanding of the role of settlement houses as well as the theology that inspired them. Chicago has a truly fascinating history.

  • Mykl
    2018-10-10 17:13

    Provides information in regards to Jane Addams the 'founding mother' of social work. Truly tried to bring about change on a micro and macro level.