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America's Women : Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines Paperback – Bargain Price, September 1, 2004
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A history of the oft-marginalized sex must often draw from diaries and journals, which were disproportionally written by whites; as a result, African-American and Native American women are not as well represented as white in the earlier chapters of America's Women. However, Gail Collins writes about women of many races and ethnicities, and in fact provides more information about Native Americans, African-Americans, and Chinese, Jewish, and Italian immigrants than some general U.S. history books. She writes about rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural, slave and slave-owner, athlete and aviatrix, president's wife and presidential candidate--and, of course, men and women. And some of these women--from the justly famous, like Clara Barton and Harriet Tubman, to the undeservedly obscure, like Elizabeth Eckford and Senator Margaret Chase Smith--will not only make any woman proud to be a woman, they will make any American proud to be American.
An editor at the New York Times, Gail Collins has also written Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity, and American Politics and, with Dan Collins, The Millennium Book. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In the book the author presents us with the history of American women, both the obscure and the celebrated. Who, for example, knew that during World War II Maya Angelou's great ambition was to be a street car conductor? To accomplish her goal she had to spply and re-apply because of the great reluctance to hire a black woman as conductor.
Free from strident ideology Ms. Collins has written 452 pages of text (and 104 more of notes, bibliography and index) with impeccable even-handedness and tongue-in-cheek humor. As a result, reading the book is a highly enjoyable journey during which one meets our very often hardworking, often brave, sometimes extraordinary foremothers. We meet Hannah Dustan who, in 1697 as a captive of a local tribe, scalped her captors and returned home to a herone's welcome.
We meet the visionary Grimke sisters, Southern abolitionists, and we see how they transformed their extraordinary vision, seemingly having arisen from nowhere, into a powerful and far-reaching voice for Emancipation...and we meet many others. We see the pendulum swing of women from Dorothy May Bradford who in 1620 took one look at the wild, uncultivated Plymouth forest and jumped from the ship to Betty Friedan who in 1970 took one look at the thousands of women pouring onto the sidewalks of New York to demonstrate on behalf of themselves. Whereas Dorothy took to the water, Betty took to the street. Indeed, the pendulum has swung wide.
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....Read more ›
So richly filled with newly uncovered historical fact and biographical detail, the book is a fantastic time machine, beginning in braless 1587 and ending in the bra-burning era of 1960-1970. Collins's effort is unique because it is not just another encyclopedic listing of famous women of the ages that choke our library shelves. With a diary quote opening each section, AMERICA'S WOMEN relies on the original sources to tell the tales, interspersed with spicy and informative editorialization from Collins. "One of the tricks to being a great historical figure is to leave behind as much information as possible," the author explains, revealing that primary source material was drawn from the New Englanders' "winning habit of keeping diaries.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved the mix of official documentation and personal journal excerpts.Published 1 month ago by J. Hammond
I bought this book for my Women's History class. I didn't think it was that interesting, I found it to be pretty boring but it was a requirement.Published 1 month ago by BC
I had this as a book on tape for years and have listened to it quite a few times - love these stories of all these remarkable and diverse women and the times they lived in... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sandy
I am a Gail Collins fan. I read her column in the New York Times, and find it hilarious, witty, pithy, informal, with always the well-turned phrase. Not so this book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Katherine Cameron
Decent overview of significant women in American history up to the 1960's. One drawback is that it covers so many women it ends up being rather superficial. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Hester Prynne
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found myself looking up more details about many of the women in the book, and downloaded five books to my kindle to learn more about some of the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by ML
I had to read this book for the class women in american history. There were parts of the book that were informative, and fun, like chapter about Roaring 20ties, but other than that... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Radojka