Jewish people revel in debate, airing their opinions, often disagreeing – always questioning. This type of dialogue frequently takes place face-to-face, but Jewish-style debate has a 2,000-year-old tradition of fueling discourse on the page. Readers are active participants and central to the conversation. Without readers, there can be no exchange of ideas.
Elsie Robinson, the most-read woman in America and the highest-paid woman writer in the William Randolph Hearst media empire, embraced this practice when she launched her nationally syndicated Listen, World! column nearly 100 years ago. For more than thirty years, between 1924 – 1956, Elsie shared her points of view with over twenty million readers – blasting gender inequality, racism, antisemitism – and invited readers to “talk back” by printing their fiery letters in her pages. A decade before Gloria Steinem was born and 40 years before Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique, Robinson used her writing as a form of tikkun olam–righting wrongs and speaking truth to power. This book, the first biography of Robinson, reveals the struggles and triumphs of this long-forgotten pioneer.