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America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines Hardcover – 1 Oct 2003
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"A fascinating compendium" -- Oprah Magazine
A fascinating compendium --Oprah Magazine
"A fascinating compendium"--Oprah Magazine
"Though America's Women is an easy and entertaining read, it also fulfills the radical promise of women's history."--Chicago Tribune
"Collins offers a fast-paced and entertaining narrative history of American women."--Library Journal
"Illuminating cultural history of American women... Informative and entertaining."--Kirkus Reviews
"This is one of the most fascinating American History books I've ever read. I learned something new on every page."--Huntsville Times
"Masterful...Collins' sly wit and unfussy style makes this historical book extremely accessible."--People
"Gail Collins knows how to tell a story. Lively, witty, and dead serious, this wise history is a fascinating read."--Linda K. Kerber, professor of history, University of Iowa, and author of No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies
A fascinating compendium --Oprah Magazine"
Masterful...Collins sly wit and unfussy style makes this historical book extremely accessible. --People"
Though America s Women is an easy and entertaining read, it also fulfills the radical promise of women s history. --Chicago Tribune"
Illuminating cultural history of American women... Informative and entertaining. --Kirkus Reviews"
Collins offers a fast-paced and entertaining narrative history of American women. --Library Journal"
This is one of the most fascinating American History books I ve ever read. I learned something new on every page. --Huntsville Times"
Gail Collins knows how to tell a story. Lively, witty, and dead serious, this wise history is a fascinating read. --Linda K. Kerber, professor of history, University of Iowa, and author of No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies"
-A fascinating compendium---Oprah Magazine
-Masterful...Collins' sly wit and unfussy style makes this historical book extremely accessible.---People
-Though America's Women is an easy and entertaining read, it also fulfills the radical promise of women's history.---Chicago Tribune
-Illuminating cultural history of American women... Informative and entertaining.---Kirkus Reviews
-Collins offers a fast-paced and entertaining narrative history of American women.---Library Journal
-This is one of the most fascinating American History books I've ever read. I learned something new on every page.---Huntsville Times
-Gail Collins knows how to tell a story. Lively, witty, and dead serious, this wise history is a fascinating read.---Linda K. Kerber, professor of history, University of Iowa, and author of No Constitutional Right to Be Ladies --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Gail Collins, a columnist for the New York Times, was the the first woman ever to serve as editorial page editor for the paper. Previously, she was a member of the Times editorial board, and a columnist for the New York Daily News and New York Newsday.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
1. In 1637 in Virginia, Ann Fowler was sentenced to 20 lashes after she suggested that Adam Thorowgood (a county justice) could "Kiss my arse." The state's General Assembly then ruled that husbands would no longer be liable for damages caused by their outspoken wives.
2. During the 18th century in Pennsylvania's Brandywine Valley, impoverished single women with children were required to wear a P (for pauper) when appearing in public.
3. In the 19th century during Civil War era, about 80% of the reading public was female.
4. "In World War II, 1,000 women pilots flew 60 million miles -- mostly in experimental jets and planes grounded for safety reasons --and often towed targets past lines of inexperienced gunners. Then [they] would get arrested for leaving base wearing slacks after dark."
As Collins examines four centuries of historical material, much (most?) of it is probably unfamiliar to most readers. In process, she focuses on various "dolls, drudges, helpmates, and heroines" and their diverse contributions -- both positive and negative -- to the evolution of American history. Although Collins is renowned for her work as a journalist (editorial page editor of the New York Times), she displays in this volume all of the skills of an accomplished historian as well as those of a cultural anthropologist. Also, she's a terrific storyteller.
I wholly agree with Ellen Chesler (who reviewed this book in The New York Times) that "vast scholarship on women has dramatically reshaped academic thinking about American history....Curiously little of this scholarship has found its way into popular imagination, however, which is why Gail Collins' book is such a welcome development." My own hope is that America's Women will have substantial influence on the revision of curricula for U.S. history courses, especially those now required in public schools. Presumably Collins and Chesler share that hope. The objective would NOT be instruction driven by gender-specific values from feminist perspectives; rather, what Chesler characterizes as a "deft and entertaining" synthesis of historical materials within "a rich narrative."
Who knows? If American history courses properly acknowledge, indeed celebrate the achievements of women such as the Grimke sisters, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Jane Addams, and Dolores Huerta, perhaps (just perhaps) several of the young women enrolled in those courses will be inspired to make their own contributions at a time when opportunities for America's women are greater than ever before.
Mae West got her start on stage in a play that she wrote, featuring male transvestites. Sort of the Madonna of her day. When Ignac Paderewski, concert pianist, performed in the 19th century, women rushed the stage to throw corsages at him. Sort of the Tom Jones of his day. American nurses in World War I adapted the absorbent wood pulp bandages used to treat wounds, to create what would become Kotex.
The bibliography in America's Women is marvelously extensive; you can use it for research, or just to get ideas for more interesting reading.
Brava, Gail Collins, for an outstanding book!
This is a lively and entertaining read, although you can tell that it's written by a journalist and not an academic. I noticed a number of minor errors and inaccuracies (Lady Godiva was famous for her actions in Coventry, not London - for one very minor petty example). There's little depth here and it focuses very heavily on white women in America, with side forays into the lives of African Americans and poor immigrant women. Once it moves past colonial times there is no reference to Native American women at all. Part of that, I will admit, is the comparable plethora of sources for white women and the almost complete lack for Native Americans, but even so, it's a glaring hole for me.
But as I said, it was a good read, and an important. Women need more of these kind of history books - not written for niche or academic audiences, focusing on the broad panoply of history, not delving down into a particular place and time. Sometimes the bigger picture helps, particularly in Collins' argument that the evolution of women's role in society has relied upon crisis and emergency - when push comes to shove, it is only then that women are allowed (even actively encouraged) to step up out of the domestic roles permitted and broaden their horizons, to come out of the home, to take jobs, to help out. But sadly all too often when those crises (revolution, war, depressions, recessions) are over, the emphasis is on women returning back to their narrow domestic sphere. But you can only put the genii back in her box so many times before she refuses to go.
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