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No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women Paperback – January 1, 2003

4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the preface to her engaging narrative history of feminism, No Turning Back, Estelle Freedman thanks a woman we should all thank, someone who asked her to recommend one book that best presented feminist scholarship to date. Realizing that her only suggestions would require the woman to read extensively across a range of disciplines, Freedman set out to provide that book herself. The result is an expansive but eminently readable history of feminism, its political roots and objectives, and the case for its centrality to the future of women.

While displaying an in-depth knowledge of her field in discussing women's rights, work, and the more recent history of women's political strategies, Freedman also demonstrates a willingness to engage in critical thinking beyond her own sphere and range; she explores subjects ranging from the development of labor and social roles across centuries and cultures to the ways in which race, class, and other social hierarchies inform and define different "feminisms." Acknowledging that her book does not "tell a single, unified history of revolutionary triumph," Freedman examines issues related to politics, economics, race, relationships, health, sexuality, and violence within the context of feminist history. Though it could have been a dry polemic, No Turning Back is, instead, an enthusiastic look at how and why feminist ideas have remained a part of the political landscape since their emergence. Freedman not only recognizes the complex processes of adaptation and redefinition that feminism has undergone, but proposes that this malleability is what has enabled the movement to withstand the test of time. For an obviously impassioned (but still well-reasoned and solidly supported) presentation of the story thus far, Freedman's answer to this book's instigator should now be an easy one. --S. Ketchum --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Stanford historian Freedman (Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America) offers a comprehensive, accessible synthesis of interdisciplinary feminist scholarship, placing feminism in a global, historical framework. Freedman begins with theories of the emergence and diversification of patriarchy, outlining the ways that urbanization, colonialism, capitalism, and industrialization have intensified gender segregation and gender, race, and class hierarchies. Women's resistance to male oppression also takes many forms specific to national identity, ethnicity, and class. As Freedman points out, feminism appeared after 1800 in Europe and North America, when capitalism and republicanism emerged, creating "both the need for feminism and the means to sustain it." But while feminism was already an international movement by 1900, after 1970 it became pervasive, and Freedman's discussion encompasses not only national and cultural differences but also feminism's expression in the multiplicity of women's activities, ranging from waged work to reproduction to artistic creation. As women's political movements define much of the global agenda for the 21st century, Freedman concludes, "the quest for universal recognition of women's equal worth is not likely to be reversed." Recommended for all libraries. Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345450531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345450531
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I think this book would be a great present for any independent high school/college-aged woman in your life who is starting to wonder if "feminist" is a dirty word.
If you're unfamiliar with the history of the feminist movement in the U.S., or even what feminism means, this is a great book for you. Professor Freedman is an engaging writer who doesn't get bogged down in academic gibberish, nor does she insult your intelligence. Not surprisingly, Freedman teaches an "Intro to Feminism" course at Stanford, and therefore if you've taken such a class in the past 15 years, much of the material may seem quite familiar.
Her book takes readers on a whirlwind tour of feminism in the United States. She makes an effort to not fall victim to the first wave feminist tendency of assuming that all women in the U.S. are upper middle class, heterosexual, and white, yet touches only briefly on international feminism and the future of women outside of the United States. While this is understandable, as the book would otherwise be 1000 pages long, perhaps a title clarifying that it is focused on the U.S. would be helpful.
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Format: Paperback
Freedman has managed to write a history and a survey of global feminism that is at once accessible, activist and academic.

The compact size and the colorful comic-inspired cover design of the trade paperback edition bely its serious scope. It is truly comprehensive, opening with a powerful argument for feminism (lingering on the term's ever-troubled, never-popular nature), proceeding through the history of various feminisms, marching on through topics as diverse as the impact of globalization on female laborers in the developing world to contrasting feminist opinions on the agency of sex workers. While the focus is primarily on the U.S., the global perspective does comes through. She manages to tone down the usual prominence of European and Euro-American influences while elevating the profile and contributions of feminists throughout the world. For the global sections, examples are drawn as readily from China and West Africa as from the United States. Freedman raises the bar for creating a feminist narrative that is continually mindful of the influences of class, race and culture as well as gender concerns.

I recommend this book for committed feminists, those lamenting the so-called `death of feminism,' and for closet feminists who are bothered by the f-word.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I initially read this book a few years ago and enjoyed reading it thoroughly! This book is packed with plenty of information about the history of feminism and the future of women living around the world. This book discusses such topics as "gender and power", "gender and violence", "women's rights", "Reproduction: The Politics of Choice", the "economic gender gap", just to name a few of the topics explored and discussed by the author.

I liked reading this book because I felt it was very well written and researched. "No Turning Back" provides the foundational knowledge for further exploration of feminism. I highly recommend reading this book, especially if you want to learn the basics of feminism!
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Format: Paperback
Estelle Freedman's writing is coherent, concise and interesting. I found everything especially the information about international feminist movements very exciting. I have recommended this book to everyone I know.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is truly a comprehensive, informative book. It teaches the beginners everything related to feminism in easy comprehensive language. It tackles all subjects related to feminism the history of various feminisms, antifeminism, post feminism, the impact of globalization on feminism and female laborers in the developing world. The book also tackles feminism in the U.S. the book also traces the influences of gender, class, race and culture and how they are interrelated. It is very helpful for beginner reseachers. It is worth buying and reading it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been soldiering through this book since I bought it (I liked the cover). It's a more studious look at feminism, and sadly doesn't include transgender issues at all. It's a hard read, flat in places, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it. It's not a bad book, but the cover made it look way easier to read (there's a whole chapter devoted to feminism among peasant women in feudal England). If you like a scholarly approach to your feminism, check out this book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a woman who swore she would never wear the label "feminist" - I have to say that I am not only willing but proud to call myself a feminist. While this may not be earth shattering or an intellectual history (as another review mentions), this is a great place to start or even expand upon one's understanding of feminism. This book spoke to every aspect of my life and experience as a woman. It helped continue my healing as a survivor of rape and domestic violence while opening new doors and new possibilities.
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Format: Hardcover
I was quite excited to see this book, rather disappointed to read it, although it is a daunting task to undertake. Freedman naturally does not go much farther that the USA with occasional forays in to Europe for her discussions, so it really should be a history of US feminism, but that is expected (after all the US has a World Series for only USA teams!)A good preliminary discussion for those now approaching the debate, a good book to gain a panoramic view the issues of the last thirty years.If you are a well read and informed feminist, there is nothing new or exciting, and nothing in enough detail to make this a must for your shelf.
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