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Dorothy Herrmann's powerful biography of Helen Keller tells the whole story of the controversial and turbulent relationship between Helen and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. Herrmann also chronicles Helen's doomed love affair, her struggles to earn a living, her triumphs at Radcliffe College, and her work as an advocate for the disabled. Helen Keller has been venerated as a sDorothy Herrmann's powerful biography of Helen Keller tells the whole story of the controversial and turbulent relationship between Helen and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. Herrmann also chronicles Helen's doomed love affair, her struggles to earn a living, her triumphs at Radcliffe College, and her work as an advocate for the disabled. Helen Keller has been venerated as a saint or damned as a fraud, but Herrmann shows her to have been a beautiful, intelligent, high-strung, and passionate woman whose life was transformed not only by her disabilities but also by the remarkable people on whose help and friendship she relied."Fascinating. . . . Stripping away decades of well-meaning sentimentality, Herrmann presents a pair of strong-willed women, who struggled to build their own lives while never forgetting their dependence on each other."—Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor"We meet an entirely unexpected Helen Keller—a woman with deep if concealed ambivalence toward her self-sacrificing teacher; a political radical; and a woman longing for romantic love and the fulfilled sexual life of a woman."—Joan Mellen, Philadelphia Inquirer"Herrmann's portrait of Keller is both fully embodied and unflinchingly candid."—Mary Loeffelholz, Boston Sunday Globe"This well-proportioned biography of the deaf and blind girl who became a great American crusader rescues its subject from the shackles of sainthood without destroying her as an American hero."—Dennis Drabelle, Cleveland Plain Dealer"Herrmann's engrossing biography helps us see beyond the public's fascination with how Keller dealt with her disabilities to discover the woman Keller strived to be."—Nancy Seidman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution"Perhaps the most intimate biography [of Helen Keller]. [Herrmann] gives her back her sexuality [and] imbues her with a true humanity. . . . Helen Keller: A Life has some of the texture and the dramatic arc of a good novel."—Dinitia Smith, New York Times...

Title : Helen Keller: A Life
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780226327631
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 414 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Helen Keller: A Life Reviews

  • Manybooks
    2019-06-30 18:32

    This detailed and informative biography of Helen Keller has proven to be very much an eye-opener for me, presenting and detailing not only her many accomplishments, but also focusing on Helen Keller's political and religious beliefs, her advocacy for the disabled, her life-long commitment to combatting racism and bigotry. Now that all being said, while the narrative of Dorothy Hermann's Helen Keller: A Life does indeed read easily and is for the most part engaging enough to hold one's interest, the text also has the unfortunate tendency to become rather plodding and overly minutely descriptive and detailed at times, which does have the tendency to produce and create a rather heavy and massive potential emotional distance to the characters and episodes described. And thus, while I did discover and learn much about Helen Keller, her teacher Annie Sullivan and late 19th, early and middle 20th century America, I also was and still remain unable too feel all that emotionally and psychologically connected to the characters, to the events, and thus more like a a calculating dispassionate scientific or anthropologic observer than an active and personally affected participant.And I do so very much appreciate the fact that Dorothy Herrmann has endeavoured to portray Helen Keller realistically; often described as a "saint" by her supporters and a "fraud" by her detractors, Helen Keller was in fact neither. She was a remarkable, strong-willed and intelligent woman, and should not simply be regarded as an icon for the disabled (or as a fraud, a cheater, as a number of mean-spirited individuals have nastily and angrily claimed repeatedly and vehemently). Helen Keller was a real, a flesh-and-blood person with ideas, beliefs, feelings, a zest for life, but also an individual with faults and foibles, like everyone. The reader is allowed to get to know who Helen Keller really was, her personality, her spirit, her very being (for above and beyond her public image, Helen Keller was a woman who lived life to the fullest, who loved, who yearned and who also made her share of mistakes, like everyone, like humans in general have the tendency to do).

  • Laura
    2019-07-01 13:51

    I enjoyed this book immensely and learned SO MUCH! Herrmann's prose is engaging, and the book moves along quickly. I got so angry with all of Helen's "protectors" who insisted on smothering and isolating her, even Annie Sullivan. I think, despite how much the people around Helen loved her, they all still saw her as less than human and NEVER as an adult. In fact, Annie addressed Helen as "dear child" in letters--even when Helen was in her 40s!The story that angered me the most was how Helen's family prevented her from marrying Peter Fagan, her fiance. They all treated her like she was 13--even though she was 36 years old! Herrmann recounts this incident, among so many others, with skill and provides all sides. The one issue she seems ambivalent about is whether Helen actually was a genius. I think she was; she accomplished far more than any hearing-sighted person I've ever met, all despite her disabilities. Yet, there were many (including Annie Sullivan and the author) who felt Helen's intelligence was not remarkable at all and that she never really knew hardship or had any intellectual depth. I found this argument offensive and quite stupid. As if being deaf and blind are not in themselves hardships. This was part of the book I disagreed with, hence the demotion from five stars to four. In spite of this issue, this book is well worth reading. It is an absorbing biography that will make you really reconsider how our society views people with disabilities, particularly women.

  • Becca
    2019-06-25 17:53

    This is a biography of Helen Keller's Life. It is well written and interesting to read. Dorothy Herrman does an excellent job of sharing information that helps paint the scene of what was going on in that time period, so we have a setting for Helen's life, without getting lost in digressions and irrelevancies.There is so much more to Helen Keller's life than I ever knew! If all you are familiar with is the story portrayed in the Miracle Worker, then I would suggest this book to help round out your knowledge of Helen's life. It includes many pictures of Helen throughout her life and makes heavy use of quoting Helen and Annie Sullivan's own words from their correspondence with friends and benefactors. Helen graduated from Radcliffe college with Honors. In her later years (when she was 60-75 years old) she traveled the world- making nine world tours that included 35 countries on 5 continents- promoting the cause of education and normal treatment for blind and deaf people. She knew many famous people personally- including Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain, Eleanor Roosevelt, and every U.S. President from the time she was 8 years old until she died (including Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Eisenhower, among others).This book did a good job of helping me to not only learn about Helen's accomplishments, but also get to know who Helen was. She was a person just like the rest of us. She learned to take adversity and turn it into an opportunity to do good. She was a firm believer in a life after this one where she would be able to see and hear. For anyone who wants to learn more about Helen's life, I recommend this book as thorough, insightful, and interesting reading.

  • Jenna
    2019-06-25 18:46

    An excellent, readable, insightful biography that quotes from primary sources without getting bogged down in them. Analysis and historical factual information coexist easily.While Herrmann certainly endeavours to create a well-rounded picture of Helen and, by extension, Annie Sullivan, by going beyond the "perfect" picture one is apt to find in any introductory or juvenile level biography, at times this results in suppositions and speculations about their personal lives. As something of an expert on Helen Keller, the author (or any biographer) perhaps at some point, needs to speculate when there is simply a lack of concrete information, but much of Herrmann's speculation seems to circle on the sexual lives of Helen and Annie, and I would have preferred more "proof" - the lack of proof is generally excused because a fire did burn many primary sources (i.e. letters). Herrmann attempts to negotiate the challenging task of reconciling or bringing together the various accounts of Helen Keller - original printed sources of the time period, Annie Sullivan's letters, and Helen's later recollections from her published autobiographies and biography of Annie Sullivan. She tries to explain/hint at how young Helen might have felt at the time and how she might subsequently view an incident (i.e. as recorded in her autobiography) coupled with what might have actually happened (i.e. Annie guarded Helen's access to information).

  • Jacqueline
    2019-06-27 18:36

    There's much to more to the story than The Miracle Worker, which barely scratches the surface. What an intellect. What a sensitivity, especially heightened olfactory, taste and touch senses. Helen Keller wrote many books and other works - she was much more prolific than anyone today really discusses. Wow.

  • Cindy
    2019-06-26 14:32

    Excellent bio which I highly recommend. I knew there was much more to the Helen Keller story than what I'd learned from the movie The Miracle Worker. The first chapter of Lies My Teacher Told Me tells what a dynamic and controversial woman Helen really was. This book delivers the story I've been longing to know, from Helen's radical politics, to a secret, but brief love affair. "In 1913 Helen had published Out of the Dark, a series of essays in which she examined the forces that had impelled her to socialism and why the socialists' beliefs - universal brotherhood, peace, and education - stirred and influenced her. This little book, which seems so innocuous today, practically destroyed her angelic image. No longer was she viewed by the public as a virginal young woman with a braille book on her lap as she savored the sweet smell of a rose, but as a fierce revolutionary who kept a large red flag in her study and who marched in suffrage parades . . .""Yet Helen now secretly yearned to fall in love and marry like her teacher. Ever since she was a child, she was more drawn to men than women, and by her own admission later in life, was possessed of a strong sex drive. But Annie and especially her puritanical, guilt-ridden mother has succeeded in convincing her that a romance with anyone was strictly forbidden.. Disabled persons must refrain from sex. Although there were some handicapped men who enjoyed an active sex life, then, as now, disabled women continued to be victims of a double standard, stemming from society's view of the female role as primarily one of a caregiver and nurturer, a role that a gravely handicapped woman such as Helen felt she could not fulfill."There is a fascinating section that mentions Oliver Sacks book, An Anthropologist on Mars, with it's descriptions of people who have been blind but are suddenly able to see for the first time."Reportedly, these cases have not numbered more than twenty over the past ten centuries. But for all these newly sighted people, vision was painful.The dark world in which they had been formerly comfortable was now a dazzle of patches of color that they could not make sense of..."The book ends with a section on some extraordinary, though not famous, deaf-blind people of today.

  • Melissa Stasi
    2019-07-09 13:27

    My first impression of this book was that it was an interesting and eye opening experience for me to read this. This was a detailed and informative biography of Helen Keller and it not only showed her many accomplishments, but it also showed her political and religious beliefs, her advocacy for the disabled, and her commitment against racism and bigotry. While reading this book, I learned about Helen Keller, her teacher Annie Sullivan, and the century she was living in America and how it affected her as a person. Helen Keller was an amazing, strong-willed and intelligent woman; she should not be simply regarded as an icon for the disabled. She had ideas, beliefs, and feelings just like everyone else despite the fact that she was both blind and deaf. This would be a great independent reading book because it contains lots of facts and figures along with pictures that many students, especially in the upper grades would understand because they would appreciate Helen Keller and all of her accomplishments the most. This is a good biography following a unit during a lesson about people with disabilities. During this lesson, the teacher should talk to the students about how people with disabilities are just like everyone else, they may just need special help with some things and they can live their life just like anyone else. This book also teaches children that no matter what is restricting you, you can still be you and enjoy things in life despite your flaws. Overall, a great and informational biography about a hero that is so well known in this world.

  • Zaire Hilliard
    2019-07-15 15:31

    In this biography of Helen Keller written by Dorothy Herrman I've been seen a new perspective on life which I wouldn't think was possible. Herrman does a great job of providing enough information on Helen’s life, political and religious beliefs, and her stand on racism whereas it feels as though you were living in that era and could relate to her problems. She also reveals facts about Helen’s teacher Annie Sullivan who helped Helen learn to talk. What I also appreciate about the book is that she doesn't provide simply irrelevant facts. After graduating Radcliffe College with honors Helen Keller went on to become a world- famous author and motivational speaker. She traveled the world promoting the cause of education and normal treatment of all disabled people, on top of that she appeared in a few silent movies and dedicated much of her time in raising funds for the American Foundation for the Blind. Because of her hard work she awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on September 14, 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Then later in 1965, she was elected to the National Women's Hall of Fame at the New York World's Fair. Helen Keller was described as an inspiring, strong-willed and intelligent woman. What Dorothy did well was she help show the world that Helen not just an icon for disabled people, she was a normal human who had faults and shortcomings like everyone else. Helen Keller: A Life allowed me to understand Helen beyond her public image; it helped me learn about who she really was and how she learned to overcome adversity.

  • Hal
    2019-07-20 12:28

    A well written and thorough book on this remarkable woman, Hellen Keller. Though she has long since passed most people would probably have heard of Hellen Keller but how much is really known about the life she led and the struggles and triumphs she endured and ascended to. This book covers many aspects of her life from the early struggle to comprehend and communicate with her beloved "Teacher", Annie Sullivan, to her beliefs and causes.It is hard to understand what it would be to experience life with no hearing or sight but to function and thrive is what this woman did and along with the daily obstacle she had to reckon the emotional strains it imposed along with the struggle to control her by a number of people. Herrmann does a good job in delving into the complexities of these challenges and also covers the spiritual and political leanings of Hellen which gives us a complete picture of this captivating human being.

  • Staphany Ramirez
    2019-07-10 13:48

    This book was certainly very touching to me and very inspiring. Heller Keller's biography is a very detailed and very informative biography. This book is also very eye opening. She faced so many challenges that it makes you compare your struggles as suppose to hers. This book was great but at moments it tends to be a hard book to read due to the very detailed scenarios. In this book Helen Keller's personality, her spirit, her very being beyond her public image, Helen Keller was a woman who lived life to the fullest, who loved, who yearned and who also made her share of mistakes. Now she is a great role model in my life. It makes me think, wow she was deaf and couldn't see. How much frustration, how much tougher life was for her. I would be careful into who I'd recommend this book, because it can be quite sad at times. Other than that I really loved this book.

  • Brian
    2019-06-27 10:37

    I cannot conceive of the challenges, nor of the overcoming of challenges in Hellen Keller's life. Often the subject of speculation and even ridicule, Hellen should serve for all of us as a reminder that a setback is simply an opportunity to grow, to gain strength and to deepen one's self. This account is well written and sensible.

  • Thor Olafsson
    2019-07-02 16:42

    I remember reading Helen Keller's story when I was in my early 30s and it left me completely inspired. Not just her personal triumph over the dark and silent place she had been sentenced to, but the combined effort of her and her teacher.Her quote about the worst thing in the world being....to have full eye-sight, but no vision for life....has accompanied me ever since.

  • Terry
    2019-07-20 10:51

    Very engaging and interesting book about Helen Keller's long and distinguished life, not just the events portrayed in The Miracle Worker. My favorite part was when Herrmann described in depth what Keller's dark and silent world was like and how she perceived the world. I truly admire Keller's politics, her accomplishments, and her zest for life. It's likely that many of the advances for handicapped people would not have come about without her activism.My only complaint was I felt Herrmann was quick to "dish" or gossip about the "dirt". She was attempting to create - rightly so - a holistic view of Keller instead of the saintly image portrayed by her handlers. But she seemed very quick to sensationalize the less saintly areas of Keller's life for dramatic effect. At the same Herrmann herself seemed to fall into the "saintly image" trap, so that her descriptions were polarized and not well-rounded as she intended. I also would have liked more information on how deaf-blind people are educated in the 21st century.Because of this, the book started off at four stars but ended at three. It's definitely worth reading but it has some limitations.

  • Anastasia
    2019-06-25 18:27

    I enjoyed learning more about Helen Keller. After having read this author's perspective on Keller's life, I didn't come away thinking she was a genius; she seemed like a good-natured, hard-working person, who could have been a lot better at standing up for herself but whose stances on social issues are all-around impressive.I didn't care much for many of the author's perspectives, but she wrote well enough that I was able to form my own opinions of Helen Keller that differed from those of the author. I probably wouldn't spend time reading another biography of Keller (there are just too many books to read and not enough time), but I'd probably encourage someone else to read one written by someone else.

  • Lisa Tangen
    2019-07-20 14:54

    well written and we'll researched. I'm fascinated by the science of the senses. it was interesting to learn about Laura bridgeman?...so Helen wasn't the first successful dead blind person, but she was far more accomplished than the average person with all senses intact. it was sad that Helen wasn't allowed to marry and that she was more or less imprisoned by her "keepers". Based on the book's description of her, Anne Sullivan was decidedly unlikeable in many respects. there were a lot of surprising and disturbing (to me) parts of the story...Helen's political views for one. I'm intigued enough to go on and read one of her early books...and maybe watch one or both movies.

  • Maya
    2019-06-25 14:51

    I enjoyed reading this book! I learned a lot of new thing about her disabilities. It was interesting learning that such an ill girl accomplished so many cool things in her life. Helen Keller is a great role model and this story teaches you that by showing her achievements. In this book you learn what she struggled with and that she was an intelligent woman. This book was a little challenge me to understand but, I still admire it. I would mainly recommend it to girls because this book is a great inspiration and it is meant for girls.

  • Susan Olesen
    2019-07-08 11:56

    Full of photos I'd never seen, it presents a well-rounded and thorough picture of Helen Keller that differs a little from the standard Brilliant Angel image, and pins a lot of her success on the manipulation of Anne Sullivan and other "protectors". Was she that brilliant? Yes, but she had shortcomings, too. Very good, very interesting, many sides you never read about before. Her eyes, damaged by the illness, were actually later removed and replaced with glass ones - you never saw her in anything but profile until then.

  • Leigh
    2019-06-21 14:28

    An interesting and unsentimental look at one of the 20th century's most famous women. Helen Keller is often portrayed as a "plaster saint". This book looks at her realistically. Helen Keller was a strong and intelligent woman, but she was often manipulated by those around her (American Federation of the Blind, the press, her school teachers and so on) and often had to struggle to be recognized as something other than a blind and deaf icon.

  • Karla
    2019-06-22 17:53

    Interesting bio of Helen Keller. Gives me another side to Helen that I hadn't considered before---that she is a human being and not the saint her handlers tried to make her out to be. I'm listening to this on CD and will be sad when it is over.Finished it. Ask me any question about Helen Keller, go on, ask me. It remained interesting to the end, a trifle too long, but she was such an interesting person.

  • Libby
    2019-06-27 15:31

    Interesting biography with more than the usual details. It actually covers some of the lesser known parts of Helen Keller's life, which I found intriguing. A bit of confusion in places because it wasn't a straightforward timeline, kind of jumped back and forth, and characters weren't always introduced at their first appearance - eg, a name suddenly shows up but the reader doesn't know who the person is until two chapters later. But an enjoyable read, nonetheless.

  • Anna
    2019-07-20 12:35

    Very inspirational and detailed biography of Helen Keller's life. It also includes history of her family and her life-long mentor and friend, Annie Sullivan. It is amazing what Helen Keller was able to accomplish in the early 1900s, as a blind-deaf-mute. Not many people are too familiar of what happened during Helen's life beyond her childhood after she learned what a word was (which is portrayed in William Gibson's play, "The Miracle Worker).

  • Cindy
    2019-07-09 18:34

    I am so happy I read this book. Like many, I had this limited view of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan based on The Miracle Worker.I never knew HK was so political, so well traveled and that Annie Sullivan was a brilliant but disturbed woman based on a horrible childhood.This is a must read for anyone interested in history, the rights of women and the disabled. HK and AS were very inspirational

  • Pradeep Badatiya
    2019-07-18 13:33

    Great story of human courage and dedication recounted in autobiography of a remarkable woman: the magical moment when Miss Keller first recognizes the connection between words and objects, her joy at learning how to speak, friendships with notable figures, her education at Radcliffe and an extraordinary relationship with her inspired teacher, Anne Sullivan.

  • Julian
    2019-06-23 11:51

    The book Hellen keller sucks. Is about a young girl that cant see nor talk. Basically she cant do anything. she doesnt have purpose to live. The best part of the book is when she screams crazy. At the end she learns to read because of a teacher. She tries to teach hellen but she scratches her. I think that my favorite part instead.

  • Marcia
    2019-07-03 17:49

    As a correction to the cleaned-up juvenile biographies of Helen Keller I read as a school girl, this was excellent. As a biography qua biography, it was just ok. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the real, not-a-plaster-saint, Helen Keller, her radical politics, and the various attempts to control and manipulate her public image.

  • Camela Theeler
    2019-07-18 13:47

    Everyone has heard of Hellen Keller and Anne Sullivan and their amazing relationship. This book provides an intimate view of their lives. The work done by these two incredible women influenced the way the entire world views people with disabilities.

  • Diane
    2019-06-22 13:53

    This was a very interesting book. I had only been aware of who Helen Keller was through the "Miracle Worker" portrayal and from quotes. There is much more to Helen Keller's life than I knew. I would suggest you read this book to round out your knowledge of her.

  • Lauraathie
    2019-07-18 11:34

    A mi no me encantaba la escuela mucho que digamos.Un dí mi padre me regaló este libro y más adelante conocí a Gaby Brimmer, entonces quedé impactada y ya no tuve más pretextos (estudié, aunque la escuela básica jamás fue mi etapa favorita)

  • Mary Beth Goeggel
    2019-06-19 17:42

    Definately not what you learn about her in the five minutes that was discussed about her in history class. This woman definately had moxie!!! Still makes her one of my five people in history I'd like to meet; in fact maybe more now.

  • Darren
    2019-06-28 13:26

    I was fascinated with Helen Keller as a kid, so I read this one on the recommendation of a friend. Great biographical storytelling...and so much detail about Keller that you don't get from her own famous autobiography or "The Miracle Worker."