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The relationship between a lady and her shoes is cosmically complicated. Where does the obsession come from? What?s with the Cinderella status thing? Why would a person subject herself to five-inch platforms?

Such is the subject of Women from the Ankle Down, a new book by self-proclaimed shoe fanatic Rachelle Bergstein.

Loosely following the past 100 years of women?s footwear, this wildly fun and fascinating romp through shoe history begins with ?Wartime Wedges? and ends in post-Carrie Bradshaw New York. Looking in on moments like the ruby slipper, the aerobics sneaker and the sexually suggestive stiletto (which apparently mimics the arch of the female foot during orgasm), Bergstein explores how we use our footwear to express who we are and what we want.

Additionally, she demonstrates shoes? power to both liberate and disempower women--often at the same time. For instance, were the flapper-era Mary Janes playful or infantilizing? Or 1980s corporate pumps: equalizing or defeminizing? And don?t even get us started on the politics of Birkenstocks.

Best, however, are the moments of pure shoe-loving joy. When Bergstein imagines the details of an actual meeting between Salvatore Ferragamo and Marilyn Monroe, it?s enough to make even a Crocs enthusiast swoon.

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