Customer Reviews: Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present
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on March 4, 2005
Overall, Jones presents a broad analysis of black female labor history with special attention to familial life. Her work gives greater meaning to the quote, "Women have always worked," because she contends and demonstrates the unique nature of black women's work from a historical perspective. The strongest quality of this book is the way Jones' analyzes the how race, gender, class, and work dynamics interconnect, thus affecting black women's lives in various ways over time and space. The weakest quality of Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow is that at times this analysis is too broad and too focused on black women's familial lives. The most unique quality of this text is how Jones attempts to address contemporary issues (the "supersexist," racist welfare system, black single mothers, black feminist, momism, and Supermomism, affirmative action), while taking into account past historical events, such as slavery. It would be interesting to continue the dialogue and research on black women's labor from 1985 to the present and assess to what extent black women have strengthened and accelerated their collective politicization. Jones suggests black female collective politicization would be inevitable.
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Jones did an admirable job on this book. We used this in African-American history because my professor wanted to ensure we learned about the history of women not just men. At the time I took the class (late 80's)there were not a whole lot of offerings.

We also had a Black women's reading circle and this book inspired a lot of debate. We discussed this book in depth and a few people felt she was trying too hard to explain social woes. There was even debate about her race; some people thought she was too apologetic because she was a white woman who was trying to be extra sensitive. A professor told our group that Jones was Black and that we were off base. The discussions and interest in the topic of Black Women's history her book inspired were important.

It also dragged in a few places but talented researchers are not always great writers. Now there are many more offerings in this area; I would suggest "When and Where I Enter" by Paula Giddings as an alternative or as the book to read after Labor of Love Labor of Sorrow.
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on September 1, 2010
My mother sought out this book because it was referenced so many times in a book about American women's history by Gail Collins. She was stunned by it and passed it along to me. It took me a long time to read, not because it was scholarly but rather because almost every page offered a hard-hitting revelation that I needed a bit of time to absorb both intellectually and emotionally. Unlike one of the other reviewers, I particularly enjoyed how the author brought in the voices of the past to tell the story. The is one of the best books I ever read, and if anyone ever says that the civil rights movement is over, or asks in your presence why African Americans in poverty don't just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps like other minority groups, you have to read this book so that you can answer them.
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on July 14, 2012
The content of this book is extraordinary. It follows closely the circumstances of black women from pre-Civil War through to the 1980s. It does this without romanticizing their lives and without trivializing their struggles. However, the writing is dense and can sometimes be hard to get through. At several points, I found myself skimming through pages where I felt like I was being told the same story/information for the second, third, multiple time. At that point, some of the anecdotes cease to have impact and begin to feel preachy. Despite this, the book closely examines the lives of black women throughout American history in a comprehensive, highly academic way.
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on December 17, 2013
Reading this book enabled me to have a clear picture of the African Americans during slavery and beyond. I would recommend this book to all those who want to grasp a more concise perspective of the African Americans.
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on February 20, 2006
Had to read this for a class on women's history. It has some hard to read areas, mainly the quotes from the blacks of the late 1800's and early 1900's, but the information is very well organized and is one that could be kept as reference for more indepth research.
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on February 16, 2014
Exactly what I needed for my class! Wonderfully written. I have been searching for this book everywhere So glad to have finally found it !
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on December 4, 2012
I am using this book as part of my dissertation and needed it quickly. I got it right away, no problem!
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on May 29, 2015
Ill cry everytime i read it
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on November 17, 2014
Excellent read.
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