Women from the Ankle Down

The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us

Bergstein explains why women, in particular, absolutely love shoes. Even more than our clothing, shoes offers us a means to communicate who we are as individuals. But Bergstein goes beyond the stories of various cobblers who became famous for their footwear. She also describes the behind the scenes machinations that brought about the famous Ruby Slippers in The Wizard of Oz. They were actually silver in L. Frank Baum’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz but red would be more of a contrast against the yellow brick road filmed in Technicolor. Bergstein combines history with popular culture. For example, we’re informed that Judy Garland was subjected to a starvation diet at a time when she and her mother were unaware diet pills contained amphetamines. As a result, she was given barbiturates so she could sleep at night and did you know that The Wizard of Oz went through four directors? How did the rationing of rubber and steel during World War II affect the shoe industry? Bergstein covers that question and describes Nancy Sinatra’s boots (that were made for walkin’). John Travolta strutted on stage while wearing those famous black boots in Saturday Night Fever. So whether you own as many pairs of shoes as Imelda Marcos (1,060 according to Imelda but other people say 3,000) or you were a huge fan of Sex in the City, you will not only enjoy this book, you will never look at a pair of shoes in the same way.

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