Leslie Brody book signing

Professor Leslie Brody’s “Irrepressible” hailed in San Francisco Gate as an “excellent biography.”

Redlands professor delights crowd at booksigning

Dr. Leslie Brody read passages from her new book “Irrepressible,” a biography on the life of controversial activist/journalist Jessica Mitford, at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Redlands Nov. 6.

About 50 members of the community, including faculty colleagues and administrators from the University of Redlands, attended the event in support of the award-winning author, who is a creative writing professor at the University. The crowd was “a really good turnout,” according to Laurie Aldern, who serves as community relations manager at the Barnes & Noble outlet.

“Irrepressible: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford” was released by Counterpoint Press in October, and Brody continues to engage in readings and booksignings across the U.S. as the iconic figure’s life—and Brody’s witty and highly readable recounting of it—is expected to have broad appeal.

“Mitford had an enormous presence in the U.S. in the 70s, so anyone of a certain age would likely be aware of her,” Brody said, as she surveyed the show of hands of audience members at the Redlands booksigning who acknowledged they had heard of her.

“She was always active, ever the raconteur, and could still be counted on later in life for the occasional ‘bon mot,” Brody said of Mitford, who died in 1996 at the age of 75.
Brody said it took her six years to complete the book, including various trips to libraries in the U.S. to do her research on Mitford’s life.

“I ‘fell into’ her life for six years,” she quipped.

Jessica Mitford, though born into one of Britain’s most renowned and eccentric families, spent most of her 75 years in the U.S., forsaking the traditional perquisites of upper-class life in order to fight fascism and government corruption.

During the Spanish Civil War, she ran away to Loyalist Spain and married Esmond Romilly, a communist sympathizer who was later killed in World War II. In 1943, after moving to the United States, she met her second husband, Robert Treuhaft, a labor lawyer. They settled in Oakland, California. During the McCarthy era, Mitford was subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). During the mid-1950’s, Mitford launched her career as a muckraker, one of the more famous of her “several lives,” which Brody skillfully outlines as she retraces the path of the iconic figure whose courage and irreverence were both admired and reviled during her lifetime.


After Mtiford published “The American Way of Death” (1963), a powerful exposé of the funeral industry, the resulting public outcry forced the industry to restructure itself almost overnight. Her other investigative books included “The Trial of Dr. Spock“(1969), “Kind and Usual Punishment: The American Prison Business” (1973), “Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking”(1979), and “The American Way of Birth” (1992).

Brody’s “Irrepresible” is available at www.counterpointpress.com, amazon.com, and barnesandnoble.com where it is also downloadable as a NOOKbook.


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