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Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America Paperback – February 14, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax; Reprint edition (February 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401360157
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401360153
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #926,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Schiff, who is most notably Al Gore's oldest daughter and a lawyer and journalist, has put together a collective biography of nine outstanding American women of the 20th century—some unjustly little known. The more celebrated are Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862–1931), an African-American journalist who brought the horrors of lynching to public attention; Mother Jones (c. 1837–1930), an Irish immigrant and lifelong crusader for workers' rights; and Frances Perkins (1882–1965), the first woman Cabinet member, appointed by FDR. Schiff also illuminates less renowned but highly influential figures, including Alice Hamilton (1869–1970) a physician and pioneer in calling attention to the dangers of industrial poisons, and Septima Poinsette Clark (1898–1987), child of a former slave, who became a teacher and tireless advocate for racial equality. Several of the subjects are still alive, like Dolores Huerta, cofounder with César Chávez of the United Farm Workers, and Gretchen Buchenholz, who established the Association to Benefit Children. Schiff has done excellent research, and though her prose isn't especially stylish, she shows her heroines as fully rounded figures. She points out, for example, that Wells-Barnett's feud with the NAACP was counterproductive and that Mother Jones's opposition to women's suffrage limited her reach. (Feb. 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Schiff, journalist, lawyer, and daughter of former vice president Al Gore, highlights the lives of nine women who have had enormous impact on the social and political history of the U.S., though most of them are relatively unknown. Schiff acknowledges that her selections are entirely personal. The nine include Ida B. Wells Barnett, antilynching activist; Mother Jones, an advocate for coal miners; Dr. Alice Hamilton, a proponent of workers' rights in the chemical industry; Frances Perkins, who helped establish Social Security; Virginia Durr, who fought to end poll taxes; Septima Poinsette Clark, an advocate for the rights of black voters; Dolores Huera, farmworker organizer; Dr. Helen Rodrigues-Trias, a reproductive rights activist; and Gretchen Buchenholz, a child advocate. The elements tying these women's lives together are a strong sense of women's rights as well as a devotion to making social change while caring for family and friends. This is an inspirational collection of biographies of women of various social, ethnic, and racial backgrounds fighting for social justice. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Little Miss Cutey on February 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book written by Karenna Gore Schiff (Al Gore's daughter) who wrote this after her father was defeated in 2000 because she was now disheartened by politics and wanted to write about people who really made politics about public service. She writes about 9 very different women who affected America in very different ways. Among them, there is Alice Hamilton (first woman on the faculty of Harvard and also a famous physician), Septima Poinsette Clark (behind the civil rights movement and started citizenship schools around the South and inspired people like Rosa Parks), and Gretchen Buchenholz (still working today as an advocate for vulnerable children - homeless etc and is on the cutting edge of helping us combat things like AIDS). They all share the common factor of wanting to help people, and all weren't afraid to take unpopular stands whilst making differences in peoples lives. Karenna is very well researched here and knows what she is talking about and when you read about all these women, you realise that you can be stronger people yourselves and overcome obstacles. It's a good, interesting and inspirational read. I really liked this.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By AKPorter on February 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is a poignant reminder that service on the individual level, when rooted in the fundamental principles of democracy and equality, can affect change on a broad scale. Anyone looking to be inspired by lives that truly made a difference will enjoy it. Very well-written and impressively researched.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This not a liberal book or a conservative book, but simply a great book.

Now I admit I knew of Mother Jones which a great magazine is named after, and I have long known of Dolores Huerta because my later mentor Bea Brickey from Tracy, California had known her and worked with her years ago during the fight to form the UFW.

But I did not know of Ida B. Wells-Barnett whom I am left in utter awe of after reading about her life and how she was literally drug off the first class section of the train she had bought a ticket for that was headed to Woodstock, Tennessee. And while being drug off the train all the white passengers cheered and applauded.

It was in reading the chapter I learned new things about Ms. Dolores Huerta. Like how as a high school student she got a C for an English paper she had written which the teacher accused her of having someone else write. Little as changed since this sadly still happens. The fact she was the mother of many children and took such a lead in such an important movement should shine as an example for any women in 2006 who makes excuses why they aren't more involved in their community and righting wrongs.

The author has done a splendid job of sharing each womans life, warts and all, since this makes the women human and realistic for those today who think they aren't 'perfect' enough to make a positive change. One also learns through these women what to do when you fall down while fighting for something.

Also liked that none of the women are well known by most people, because this gives a fresh new look to womens struggles and how they succeeded. It also is a great reminder that there were/are a lot of unsung heroines in our midst.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Constant Reader on November 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Karenna Gore Schiff has done us a wonderful service with this book of women whose impact on American life has been profound. Her essays on the lives and contributions of these women are readable and enlightening. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte M. on August 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautifully written and captivating look at the lives of strong women who helped change the course of American history. I was extremely impressed by Karenna Gore Schiff's writing ability . All of the women profiled in this book are fascinating Americans and most of them are long overdue for this kind of a tribute. Schiff truly did her research and I was also interested in the information she shared about the strong women in her family--most notably her grandmothers. She dedicates the book to them.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. Powell on August 3, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a magnificent book, written by a brilliant and humanitarian author. It is well researched and documented, and it is very interesting and enlightening. Every person in our nation could benefit from reading this informative work. Thank you for this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JWJ on January 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book which should be read and reviewed by every high school student (male and female) and by our political leaders. Not only does it show the incredible courage and insight of each of these marvelous women, it illustrates the horrible issues and living/working conditions faced by the working class and non-white persons regardless of class. The book provides a dramatic historical perspective about unions, civil rights, and public safety, environmental regulations, etc. We are now seeing some of the same issues related to the environment, safe working conditions, women's rights, exploitation of children in places such as China. This book makes one more aware of the great strides the US has taken since the early 1900's to improve working conditions, etc. Free trade is not only about wages and jobs, but we must also ensure that the safeguards developed in the US and Europe be an integral part of the free trade process or we will be back to facing the issues so vividly described in this book.
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