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A Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States in the Twentieth Century Paperback – March 1, 1999

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As its title suggests, Sheila Rowbotham's A Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States in the Twentieth Century is a monumental study--scholarly, readable, well illustrated, well indexed--of Western women's experiences in the 20th century. As a feminist historian, Rowbotham is aware of the scope of her task, beginning her survey with the problems that have been crucial to the study of women's history as such: "Who and what gets into the record of the past? How do you start to document the everyday, the experience which leaves no written, or visual, trace?" With the exception of two chapters devoted to the aftermath of the First and Second World Wars--periods that saw key changes in the patterns of women's work, for example--the study is divided decade by decade, with distinct sections on Britain and the United States. Allowing for an awareness of the differences, as well as the cultural exchange, between Britain and the U.S., Rowbotham gives a fresh sense of the diverse history of contemporary feminism and (some of) the women--writers, critics, Hollywood icons, politicians, amongst others--who have contributed to it. Concluding with brief biographies of the key players and with an extensive bibliography, the book is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to know more about women's recent history. --Vicky Lebeau, Amazon.co.uk


“A courageous, thought-provoking and very political work … honest and frequently moving.” (Observer)

“Indispensible … A lively, readable, and balanced account of the gender wars of one messy century.” (Naomi Wolf - The Times)

“A fascinating map of progress and pitfalls over the past 100 years.” (Independent) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; First Edition edition (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140232826
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140232820
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,119,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Although I used this book primarily for American Women's history, it does a great job with British history too. The book is well organized, looking at american and british women's history separately by decades starting with 1900 and going through 1995. In most cases, each chapter is divided by politics, work, social life and sex.
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Format: Paperback
Disappointingly dim (and also English-language only] book. It describes life for women - and describes occasional protests - but of course has no suggestions how they could themselves improve matters. At the end of the book is a list of famous women with brief biogs - example Kate Adie [she read out censored material about Iraq wearing camouflaged clothing] and Diana [married a rich royal] and Margaret Mead [phoney academic] - generally women of no great character. The cover design perhaps sums up the book - a woman perched on metal eagle's head on a skyscraper, holding a large bellows camera - all the artefacts being designed by males.

She went to St Hilda's College, Oxford. One of her books says '.. my intense visionary moments didn't help.. read Gibbon and Macaulay or study the growth of the judiciary in the Middle Ages or the boundaries of the Austro-Hungarian empire. I found this kind of history boring at the best of times.' She seems to have been influenced far more by her experiences later, for example with supposed lefties influenced by what everyone still calls the 'Russian Revolution'.

The social material is entirely convention - Suffragettes, World War 1, then World War 2 with judgments about e.g. Jews, 'appeasement', strikes. Then 'the pill', civil rights, capitalist use of the labour of married women...

She has the usual inability to grasp the importance of science; and of course power structures aren't analysed. So weapons or cars or medical advances or whatever 'develop'. 'Poverty' is the 'cause' of hardship. 'Capitalism brought new relationships of property and domination. It brought into being a class which did not own the means of production, 'free' labourers who had to sell their labour on the market.
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