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America's Women tells the story of more than four centuries of history. It features a stunning array of personalities, from the women peering worriedly over the side of the Mayflower to feminists having a grand old time protesting beauty pageants and bridal fairs. Courageous, silly, funny, and heartbreaking, these women shaped the nation and our vision of what it means to be female in America.

By culling the most fascinating characters -- the average as well as the celebrated -- Gail Collins, the editorial page editor at the New York Times, charts a journey that shows how women lived, what they cared about, and how they felt about marriage, sex, and work. She begins with the lost colony of Roanoke and the early southern "tobacco brides" who came looking for a husband and sometimes -- thanks to the stupendously high mortality rate -- wound up marrying their way through three or four. Spanning wars, the pioneering days, the fight for suffrage, the Depression, the era of Rosie the Riveter, the civil rights movement, and the feminist rebellion of the 1970s, America's Women describes the way women's lives were altered by dress fashions, medical advances, rules of hygiene, social theories about sex and courtship, and the ever-changing attitudes toward education, work, and politics. While keeping her eye on the big picture, Collins still notes that corsets and uncomfortable shoes mattered a lot, too.

"The history of American women is about the fight for freedom," Collins writes in her introduction, "but it's less a war against oppressive men than a struggle to straighten out the perpetually mixed message about women's roles that was accepted by almost everybody of both genders."

Told chronologically through the compelling stories of individual lives that, linked together, provide a complete picture of the American woman's experience, America's Women is both a great read and a landmark work of history.

Topics: Slavery

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061739224
List price: $11.88
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I loved this book! It's an excellent, readable overview of the history of women in the United States. Because of the breadth of the subject, sometimes there wasn't enough information about certain women or subjects to satisfy my curiosity, but overall, this is a great and comprehensive book. There are numerous inspiring stories of famous and not-so-famous women. I recommend this for history fans and women everywhere, and it's a great place to start if you're interested in women's studies. Four and a half stars.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is actually a very balanced book, which, oddly enough, is a pretty rare thing in...life, and an almost strange accomplishment, especially for...people.Or, to grasp the nettle, and put things a little more bluntly: at least she didn't feel the need to lie to get her point across, right? I mean, honesty isn't a one-way street; it's more like a six-lane super-highway......But, to be honest, I had to take a point off for length. Usually I try to give the benefit of the doubt, and not take off, as long as the quality remains the same, (and sometimes it doesn't), but I've come to the point where lots of footnotes don't impress me the way they used to, and if the writing avoids being terrible, it's still...pretty average. (Yeah, sometimes it doesn't, I meant....it's hard to say, to explain. Sometimes it doesn't, in general, I meant, but here, too, I guess. Although it is better than average *at times*, such as in the part about Salem....and, although part of me wanted a little more about John Proctor, ('John Proctor, you are conspired with *Antichrist*!'), and Giles Corey, ('More weight!'), I *try* not to whine as much as I might....even if *I* think it's kinda funny sometimes! But it's good that Rebecca Nurse got her due, because she deserves it, and so do Elizabeth Proctor and Martha Corey, and the others.)And if social history, and women's history, and so on, has its own pretensions to importance, so does political history and military history, and every other kind of history, and so on. (Even though not everybody always shares those assessments....not even, say, "the rock people", as Sheldon put it.)Then again, I've started to think that it's just difficult to turn history into something worth reading, in general. It's fun to dig documents out of the archives, but less fun to read about it...and I've been on both sides of it now, more or less. ......Anyway, it's basically just an average book, but that doesn't really matter...what I really learned (which I was sorta already learning), was that the less history I let myself read, the better off I'll (probably) be. In other words, I'm not going to read any more Paul Johnson, nor any more of this..................Anyway....I normally try not to do this sort of thing, talking about the subject instead of the book, but since I do sometimes, and since it is what is....The past is my ballast, and so is suspicion. I try to think about it all, I try to fix things, to do things better, to do it all right....but is anybody listening? It just seems like you want to get me out of the way....what's expected of me, I wonder....And I don't want anyone to get shunted aside into anything that nobody wants, why can't people just be who they are, and be appreciated....and so I try this and I try that, but I'm so alone....and suspicion makes everything nothing! Anyway. But I guess it's not the book's fault....A book is just so much paper, after all. ^^(So, no more hobby horses for me!).........And I will stand behind that--a book is just so much paper....and sometimes, it's not even that. WE SHOULD ALL AGREE (that I'm good and you suck). *rolls eyes*But, like I said, it could have been worse....and sometimes, I'm not even sure that it's the same sort of book that some of you are reading into it! *shrugs*(8/10)read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Every time I open these pages for a quick peek at some tidbit, I'm hooked and can't put it down. It's chockablock full of America's history through the centuries, all in lively prose. A true treasure chest.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Read all reviews

Reviews

I loved this book! It's an excellent, readable overview of the history of women in the United States. Because of the breadth of the subject, sometimes there wasn't enough information about certain women or subjects to satisfy my curiosity, but overall, this is a great and comprehensive book. There are numerous inspiring stories of famous and not-so-famous women. I recommend this for history fans and women everywhere, and it's a great place to start if you're interested in women's studies. Four and a half stars.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is actually a very balanced book, which, oddly enough, is a pretty rare thing in...life, and an almost strange accomplishment, especially for...people.Or, to grasp the nettle, and put things a little more bluntly: at least she didn't feel the need to lie to get her point across, right? I mean, honesty isn't a one-way street; it's more like a six-lane super-highway......But, to be honest, I had to take a point off for length. Usually I try to give the benefit of the doubt, and not take off, as long as the quality remains the same, (and sometimes it doesn't), but I've come to the point where lots of footnotes don't impress me the way they used to, and if the writing avoids being terrible, it's still...pretty average. (Yeah, sometimes it doesn't, I meant....it's hard to say, to explain. Sometimes it doesn't, in general, I meant, but here, too, I guess. Although it is better than average *at times*, such as in the part about Salem....and, although part of me wanted a little more about John Proctor, ('John Proctor, you are conspired with *Antichrist*!'), and Giles Corey, ('More weight!'), I *try* not to whine as much as I might....even if *I* think it's kinda funny sometimes! But it's good that Rebecca Nurse got her due, because she deserves it, and so do Elizabeth Proctor and Martha Corey, and the others.)And if social history, and women's history, and so on, has its own pretensions to importance, so does political history and military history, and every other kind of history, and so on. (Even though not everybody always shares those assessments....not even, say, "the rock people", as Sheldon put it.)Then again, I've started to think that it's just difficult to turn history into something worth reading, in general. It's fun to dig documents out of the archives, but less fun to read about it...and I've been on both sides of it now, more or less. ......Anyway, it's basically just an average book, but that doesn't really matter...what I really learned (which I was sorta already learning), was that the less history I let myself read, the better off I'll (probably) be. In other words, I'm not going to read any more Paul Johnson, nor any more of this..................Anyway....I normally try not to do this sort of thing, talking about the subject instead of the book, but since I do sometimes, and since it is what is....The past is my ballast, and so is suspicion. I try to think about it all, I try to fix things, to do things better, to do it all right....but is anybody listening? It just seems like you want to get me out of the way....what's expected of me, I wonder....And I don't want anyone to get shunted aside into anything that nobody wants, why can't people just be who they are, and be appreciated....and so I try this and I try that, but I'm so alone....and suspicion makes everything nothing! Anyway. But I guess it's not the book's fault....A book is just so much paper, after all. ^^(So, no more hobby horses for me!).........And I will stand behind that--a book is just so much paper....and sometimes, it's not even that. WE SHOULD ALL AGREE (that I'm good and you suck). *rolls eyes*But, like I said, it could have been worse....and sometimes, I'm not even sure that it's the same sort of book that some of you are reading into it! *shrugs*(8/10)
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Every time I open these pages for a quick peek at some tidbit, I'm hooked and can't put it down. It's chockablock full of America's history through the centuries, all in lively prose. A true treasure chest.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Interesting, but less so than I expected from Ms. Collins. I do look forward, however, to reading her new book on the past half century.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is a very easily read and hard to put down history. I could have wished for more detail but it is covering quite a bit of time so has to be more of an overview. It was great to have ordinary women's lives included in the book as well as more famous ones. I will definitely be researching some people and events that this book introduced to me more thoroughly in the future.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This is an interesting book about people not normally talked/analyzed about in other history books. This book discuses how women shaped America as well as what it means to be a female in this country. The book covers 400 years which is quite alot but it is still really interesting. Gail Collins focuses on how women's lives changed with various advances such as medical and social theory advances. I really enjoyed reading this book and if someone is interested in women's studies and the history of females in America, this book is for them.
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