counter create hit America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines

Availability: Ready to download

A landmark work of history telling the story of more than four centuries of history featuring a stunning array of personalities. 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 A landmark work of history telling the story of more than four centuries of history featuring a stunning array of personalities. 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.


Compare
Ads Banner

A landmark work of history telling the story of more than four centuries of history featuring a stunning array of personalities. 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 A landmark work of history telling the story of more than four centuries of history featuring a stunning array of personalities. 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.

30 review for America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines

  1. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Holley

    I took a survey pair of classes in college called History of Women in the U.S., and they were two of my favorite college classes of all time. I had always had a love-hate relationship with history. Some of it is so fascinating, and it is always interesting to me to see how current culture and politics echoes the culture and politics of the past, but, on the other hand, sometimes history seems to be all wars and generalities. It is often zeitgeist and statistics, rather than subtlety and story. B I took a survey pair of classes in college called History of Women in the U.S., and they were two of my favorite college classes of all time. I had always had a love-hate relationship with history. Some of it is so fascinating, and it is always interesting to me to see how current culture and politics echoes the culture and politics of the past, but, on the other hand, sometimes history seems to be all wars and generalities. It is often zeitgeist and statistics, rather than subtlety and story. But, my History of Women classes were different: they were letters and stories of all kinds of women living in North America. Women who cared centuries ago about things I care about now. It was brilliant. I thought, this is what history has been missing for me: women. I’m sad to say it, but this book proved me wrong. I started following Gail Collins’s op-ed columns in the New York Times during the 2008 election because she is very witty and sometimes hilarious. I think she is a lovely, smart woman. This book, however, failed overall for me. It was full of the generalities that bother me in so many history books. Like, “Women watched this television show,” “Women wore this clothing,” “The U.S. wanted this or that,” “People felt this way.” It just rubs me the wrong way. I feel like if historians continue to live and breathe these sweeping observations about culture, people in the future will assume I am just like Brittany Spears. Not that I really have a problem with Brittany Spears, but I am not very similar to her. I like history through individual eyes and stories. And this book didn’t really even succeed for me when there were individual stories. Collins would pick out a notable woman and briefly summarize her story, but the scope of this book was too huge to do anybody justice. For example, she discusses Margaret Sanger twice, but, unless I missed it, did not touch at all on her racism or advocacy of eugenics. From one standpoint, I think her legacy obviously goes far beyond eugenics, and Sanger was an amazing woman in so many ways and an incredible advocate for voluntary birth control. But, to ignore her advocacy of eugenics seems suspect to me. Does it come from an assumption that someone with one so awful an idea could not do anything good? Does it come from a fear of even raising the topic? Is it just because there were so many people to cover in this book and so little space to do it? And, maybe she did mention it and I just missed it. But, if she didn’t (and I double checked and couldn't find anything about it), it seems like an example of a missed opportunity to talk about the nuance that exists in any cultural activism. Also, I am big on citation. I am big on deliberate, meticulous, and transparent citation of sources, and I was not satisfied with how citation works out in this book. First, I prefer footnotes to endnotes, but having said that, I thought the endnote citation in Dead Man Walking were excellent, so I definitely see how endnotes have their place. I haven’t gone through all of the endnotes in this, but from having skimmed them, they appear not so much to be citation as further reading recommendations. They are not linked to the text through endnotes at all, but rather are cited to pages through quotes from the pages. So, what I’m saying is that the only real cited information is the quotations, and then there are other sources listed for further reading. That drives me crazy. Like, you can’t just say, “Women liked to make out in Model-Ts” and not cite me to your source. Who gave you this information, Michael Moore? Your neighbor across the fence? A dream? Grease? A lot of the information in here about the early part of the twentieth century, for example, seemed to come from the Gilbraith family, which is fine, and I like them, but it’s not exactly a survey of diverse sources. And, as with Michael Moore, it’s not so much that I think the information actually is overall inaccurate; it’s just that I appreciate a well-timed citation. Maybe some of my complaint comes largely from the fact that this book isn’t Early American Women or Modern American Women, which are AMAZING. Maybe it’s not a fair standard to keep, but I think history books should be that blend of primary sources and analysis. I freaking love those books. This one wasn’t terrible but it was a resounding meh. It was a really long B+ recitation of generalities about American women. I am totally bummed and disillusioned to not be jumping off the walls about it because this is the first time I have failed to jump off walls about a book on the history of women, and I think it is signaling a certain crotchety-ness in me. Oh, no wait, there was that eye-roll HBO production about Alice Paul. That was annoying, though it wasn’t a book. Anyway, I could see assigning this in a high school class, but I couldn’t really see going beyond that. And why not watch Ken Burns’s wonderful documentary Not for Ourselves Alone, read the American Women books, or read one of Jeannette Walls’s books instead? Those are fucking amazing. People should freak out about the history of women, and the zeitgeists and famous people this book summarized just failed to make me freak out.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dana Stabenow

    Gail Collins’ America’s Women (400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines) reads like the women studies class I was never offered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It should be required reading for every US high school student today. Listen to some of this stuff: The most famous runaway slave…was [Harriet Tubman:]…In 1849, when she was about thirty years old, she heard rumors that she was about to be sold and escaped. Making her way to Philadelphia, she cleaned houses until she had Gail Collins’ America’s Women (400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines) reads like the women studies class I was never offered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. It should be required reading for every US high school student today. Listen to some of this stuff: The most famous runaway slave…was [Harriet Tubman:]…In 1849, when she was about thirty years old, she heard rumors that she was about to be sold and escaped. Making her way to Philadelphia, she cleaned houses until she had enough saved to finance a return trip…she made as many as 19 trips over the border. In one, using a hired wagon, she retrieved her elderly parents. In another, she led eleven slaves to freedom…She was expert at disguises, appearing as an old woman or a vagabond, or a mental disturbed man. She carried paregoric to quiet crying babies, and if anyone showed signs of panicking, she ominously fingered the revolver she always carried. Maryland slaveholders offered a bounty of $40,000 for her capture. and The great story about Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the first woman elected to Congress, who four days later voted against the US going into WWI. Two years later the voters invited her home, but she wasn’t done, not by a long shot. In 1940 she was re-elected, just in time to vote against the US going into WWII. Not sure this was exactly what Anthony and Stanton had in mind at Seneca Falls. One of the recurring themes that Collins delights in is the instruction women received from the media on their behavior and place in society. Some of the crap womens' magazines were pitching in the 1950s could have been lifted whole right out of publications in the 1750s. This is remedial womens’ studies with a vengeance, told with wit and style and a gift for picking exactly the right anecdote to illustrate an entire historical event. All the usual suspects are present and accounted for, from Prudence Crandall to Abigail Adams to Margaret Sanger (Thanks for the pill, Margaret!) to Elizabeth Eckford to Eleanor Roosevelt (Thanks for marrying Eleanor, Franklin!). A must read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Clare

    While reading this I called myself a feminist for the first time in my life. My former discomfort with that label was embarrassing; I acknowledge the younger generations' ingratitude towards those who struggled for women's rights, but despite my gratitude and delight in the current freedoms, I couldn't embrace the concept of feminism without feeling like I was being tongue-in-cheek or somehow self-mocking. I believe there are nature-bound differences, which can be studied and exposed, between t While reading this I called myself a feminist for the first time in my life. My former discomfort with that label was embarrassing; I acknowledge the younger generations' ingratitude towards those who struggled for women's rights, but despite my gratitude and delight in the current freedoms, I couldn't embrace the concept of feminism without feeling like I was being tongue-in-cheek or somehow self-mocking. I believe there are nature-bound differences, which can be studied and exposed, between the brains of women and men, I think the sexes have evolved differently, I also think that altered gender states have evolved out of this and also involve differences on the neuronal and chemical levels. Somehow my thoughts on these matters interfered with my willingness to call myself a feminist; if we are different, why do we still need to struggle for equality, and why can't we rejoice in these differences? I was so over the idea of bridging a gender gap, I was through with breaking the glass ceiling. Adrienne Rich made me so angry, leaving her family and thinking she was taking some strong feminist stance by embracing her creativity and going off to write poetry; if that is what modern feminists think they can do, I wanted no part of the movement. This book changed my perspective completely, I'm in awe of the progress women have made in this country, and of Gail Collins' work to dig up the day-to-day lives of women through a great deal of colonial and post-colonial America. It should have been obvious before, but there are as many kinds of feminism as there are women, and the differences amongst us can strengthen the movement. An analysis of variance may show "us" as women to be different from men, but the within groups differences matter just as much.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Barrett

    This was a very informative book on the trials and triumphs of women in America. It's hard to believe that it took until the late 60's and early 70's for women to gain even ground with men. And even at that time it was just the beginning of an uphill battle. I tried to put myself in the mindset of a woman as I read the book and I believe there were moments when I would have been extremely proud and moments when I would have been extremely pissed. From the mindset of a man, I also felt extremely This was a very informative book on the trials and triumphs of women in America. It's hard to believe that it took until the late 60's and early 70's for women to gain even ground with men. And even at that time it was just the beginning of an uphill battle. I tried to put myself in the mindset of a woman as I read the book and I believe there were moments when I would have been extremely proud and moments when I would have been extremely pissed. From the mindset of a man, I also felt extremely proud of women. There is a ton of history they contributed that will never be known because their voices and their stories were silenced. And I also felt moments of shame. You are your brothers keeper. Well, goddammit... you are your sisters keeper as well! It did seem as though the individual accounts were hurried, but I understand that if the author gave detailed accounts of all the women mentioned, this would have been the size of War and Peace sandwiched between two Stephen King novels. I also think there was not enough attention given to all the races that make up this country. The main focus was on white and black women with very little given to others like the Mexicans, Asians and...AMERICAN INDIANS! Hello! So, anyway, very good book with a lot of history about our wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, faithful, strong women. Okay honey, you can let go of my balls. I'm done. ;)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I studied military history in school, I studied maritime history for fun, I served 8 years in the military, I rock climb, etc. I have never worn pink. So when I received this book as a Christmas present I thought “how odd.” A decidedly girly book for such a tomboy. I am so embarrassed by my utter lack of appreciation for, and knowledge of, the women who came before me, that fought for my right to an education, to serve in the military, hell, to even wear pants! This book gets 5 stars for not only I studied military history in school, I studied maritime history for fun, I served 8 years in the military, I rock climb, etc. I have never worn pink. So when I received this book as a Christmas present I thought “how odd.” A decidedly girly book for such a tomboy. I am so embarrassed by my utter lack of appreciation for, and knowledge of, the women who came before me, that fought for my right to an education, to serve in the military, hell, to even wear pants! This book gets 5 stars for not only being excellently written and researched, for being compelling and fascinating, but because it had such a massive impact on me. It opened an entirely new genre of history for me, one that I have now pursued with a voracious appetite. This book is easy to read, it always stays on point, and follows a very specific timeline. It never jumps around, its always very focused. Honestly, I wish this book were about a 1000 pages longer, because I would have liked to see more recent history described a bit more, but I suppose there is no shortage of other books on that subject. The personal stories and vignettes of women from newspapers, diaries, etc made the book very compelling, it really reached out to you. I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is my absolute favorite book to lend, and because it covers the whole of American history everyone can learn something. I’ve never had anyone return it that didn’t rave about it. I look forward to reading more of Collins’ work. ****Note**** I would just like to point out that because this book is so incredibly awesome it is one of the books always featured behind Assistant Deputy Knope's bookshelf. YAY PARKS & REC!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Jeffers

    I read Collins' When Everything Changed a few years ago and was blown away. Part oral history, part research-driven narrative, it told the story of the role that women played in the US from the 1960s to 2008, the year before it was published and Hillary Clinton made her first presidential run. I immediately bought this book, which is a history of women in the US from the 1600s up until the 60s, but it took me forever to get around to actually reading it and I don't know why. It essentially feels I read Collins' When Everything Changed a few years ago and was blown away. Part oral history, part research-driven narrative, it told the story of the role that women played in the US from the 1960s to 2008, the year before it was published and Hillary Clinton made her first presidential run. I immediately bought this book, which is a history of women in the US from the 1600s up until the 60s, but it took me forever to get around to actually reading it and I don't know why. It essentially feels like taking a survey class in college because it so briefly summarizes so many notable women and events, though it never really explores any of them with much depth. It's well-written and accessible, but less engaging than the oral history structure of her follow-up. The only reason this is four stars instead of five is that, as someone who essentially minored in women's history (it was technically a women's studies minor, but I met almost all the requirements with history classes), I found very little new information in this book. That was a little bit disappointing to me personally, but not enough to keep me from whole-heartedly recommending this book to anyone looking to learn a little bit more about the oft-forgotten sides of history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Ray

    "In 1921 Congress passed the Sheppard-Towner Maternity Act, a step toward a national system of well-baby clinics to improve the health of the poor. But physicians felt it threatened their practices, and when it became clear that women were not going to vote as a bloc, it was phased out." (p. 340 of 556. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepp...) Woman suffrage seemed inconsequential. Women voted by loyalty to class, ethnic group, and religion, as men did. (p. 338) "Alfred C. Kinsey's 1953 Sexual Be "In 1921 Congress passed the Sheppard-Towner Maternity Act, a step toward a national system of well-baby clinics to improve the health of the poor. But physicians felt it threatened their practices, and when it became clear that women were not going to vote as a bloc, it was phased out." (p. 340 of 556. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepp...) Woman suffrage seemed inconsequential. Women voted by loyalty to class, ethnic group, and religion, as men did. (p. 338) "Alfred C. Kinsey's 1953 Sexual Behavior in the Human Female estimated 24 percent of married women had had an abortion." (p. 408) "If Rosa Parks had got up and given that white man her seat you'd never'a heard of Martin Luther King Jr. --E.D. Nixon, her lawyer. (p. 418) "Much of the money to run anti-suffrage campaigns came from the liquor industry, which realized it would be out of business if women got to vote on Prohibition." (p. 307, but remember, Prohibition passed /before/ women got the vote.) Particularly insightful telling of the 1692 Salem, Massachusetts "witch" killings. Unhappy young women ask a Caribbean slave woman to fortell their marriage prospects. The egg white forms the shape of a coffin in the boiling water. Soon the women start going into fits and making accusations against family enemies and against defenders of the accused. Uniquely, Salem authorities took the wildest accusations seriously. Only those who /denied/ being witches were killed. 24 were killed solely on claims of visions nobody else could see. Massachusetts governor stopped it after his wife was accused. pp. 35-46 of 556. Similar to the Communist hunts after world wars I and II. And to the "illegal immigrant" hunts today. (Yes, some of the accused Communists really held minority political affiliations; many of the "illegal immigrants" really aren't authorized to be here. But the vicious treatment--including permanently taking young kids from their parents, even if they're here legally--makes clear witch hunts are not in the past.) About a dozen mostly Western states gave women the vote well before the 1920 19th amendment gave all U.S. women the vote. Western states were short of women: they were trying to attract them. (There seems to be no one official source of information on dates the various states enfranchised women. Primary sources would have to be state-by-state.) Over all, the book felt a little cut-and-pasted from what her assistants dug up.

  8. 4 out of 5

    HBalikov

    American women should read this book, but more importantly, men should read this book. Even though Gail Collins doesn't call this a history book, it is an important gender history of the USA. This is not dry dates and places history. In fact, it is likely that you have had only a little of what Ms. Collins brings in any of the history courses you have taken: high school, college or beyond. The charm and uniqueness of this very readable book is its reliance on original source materials: journals, American women should read this book, but more importantly, men should read this book. Even though Gail Collins doesn't call this a history book, it is an important gender history of the USA. This is not dry dates and places history. In fact, it is likely that you have had only a little of what Ms. Collins brings in any of the history courses you have taken: high school, college or beyond. The charm and uniqueness of this very readable book is its reliance on original source materials: journals, diaries and correspondence. Whether we are talking about women laboring in their 17th Century colonial cabins, in their prairie sod houses, in their mining camp tents or in their turn of the 20th Century tenements, we are hearing (for me, much for the first time) what their lives were like. Collins does a very credible job of bringing their hopes, opinions, frustrations and joys to us in a way that is both touching and thought provoking. How hard was it to keep a healthy home? How lonely was it when your nearest neighbor for twenty years or more was more than forty miles away and all you had were the children your husband provided when he went off to hunt or trap or mine? How exciting was it when your ordinary cooking skills were so prized by miners that you could make a fortune in a year's worth of work? How scary and/or exciting was it to find work outside the home and be independent? I wonder what attitudes would be modified if a little of this were sprinkled though each of our American history education experiences.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Lin

    An engrossing history composed of palatable anecdotes, blunt humor, and plain facts that will affirm, incense, and convulse by turns. Not scholarly, but well-informed and intimately written.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sara Klem

    The scope of this book is just...massive. This is a plus because I felt like I learned a lot from it, ending up jotting down names of women I wanted to read more about, but it's also the book's downfall because I felt like it glossed over women who were not white or African American. It definitely left you wanting for more at certain points. Still, it was a great read, and Gail Collins does not sugar coat. She answers many of the questions you want answered about women of the past (how the hell The scope of this book is just...massive. This is a plus because I felt like I learned a lot from it, ending up jotting down names of women I wanted to read more about, but it's also the book's downfall because I felt like it glossed over women who were not white or African American. It definitely left you wanting for more at certain points. Still, it was a great read, and Gail Collins does not sugar coat. She answers many of the questions you want answered about women of the past (how the hell did pioneer women deal with menstruation?!) and does not leave out some of the less flattering details (discusses Susan B. Anthony being pretty racist and Margaret Sanger getting mildly involved with eugenics, for example). I'd recommend it if you're wanting to read about the lesser-known badass women of our country's history but not sure where to start.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    From Eleanor Dare's voyage to the New World to Betty Friedan's march down Fifth Avenue, Collins uses individual women as a framework for her discussion of the four-hundred-year history of women in America. Starting with the lost colony of Roanoke Island and spanning several wars, the pioneering days, the Great Depression, the era of Rosie the Riveter, and the civil rights movement before ending with minimal commentary of the past three decades, the book explains how the lives of women were alter From Eleanor Dare's voyage to the New World to Betty Friedan's march down Fifth Avenue, Collins uses individual women as a framework for her discussion of the four-hundred-year history of women in America. Starting with the lost colony of Roanoke Island and spanning several wars, the pioneering days, the Great Depression, the era of Rosie the Riveter, and the civil rights movement before ending with minimal commentary of the past three decades, the book explains how the lives of women were altered by birth control, social theories about sex and courtship, suffragettes, evolving legal rights, and fashion. While I can understand beginning this tomb of history with Eleanor Dare, a British women who traveled to Roanoke Island and gave birth to a little girl, because her arrival began the makings of America as a nation, there is a distinct lack of historical accounts about Latina, Asian, Native American, and other minority women recorded in America's Women. Collins covers European (white) and African-Americans in-depth; women within other ethnic groups and their struggles, movements, and contributions to history are ignored. History also comes fast and furious when Collins hits the twentieth century, especially after she covers the civil rights movement in the 1960s. I did skim the periods of history that I know best -- the pioneer days, the Great Depression, World War II -- but for the periods I don't have a personal interest in, I found that even with basic knowledge I had a hard time conjuring up the images Collins wanted me to have in my head. A notable exception would be the pages on the colonial days and the American revolution up until the Civil War; with those I found that I could easily follow along and feel Collins excitement for her work. Her devotion to this period in American history really transferred from the pages to me, but from here to end her excitement noticeably drops and Collins loses steam. In the end, I told my mother to pass on this one because for someone who doesn't like history this sentiment will continue to thrive while reading this dry and not well-outlined book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book records the changes in American women's lives and the transformations in American society from the 1580s through the 2000s. I appreciated that the author included women of all races, backgrounds, education levels, etc. She talks about the accomplished women of history but also highlights many who were obscure but still important. This excerpt from Publisher's Weekly sums it up pretty well: The basis of the struggle of American women, postulates Collins, "is the tension between the yearn This book records the changes in American women's lives and the transformations in American society from the 1580s through the 2000s. I appreciated that the author included women of all races, backgrounds, education levels, etc. She talks about the accomplished women of history but also highlights many who were obscure but still important. This excerpt from Publisher's Weekly sums it up pretty well: The basis of the struggle of American women, postulates Collins, "is the tension between the yearning to create a home and the urge to get out of it." Today's issues-should women be in the fields, on the factory lines and in offices, or should they be at home, tending to hearth and family?-are centuries old, and Collins, editor of the New York Times's editorial page, not only expertly chronicles what women have done since arriving in the New World, but how they did it and why. Creating a compelling social history, Collins discovers "it's less a war against oppressive men than a struggle to straighten out the perpetually mixed message about women's role that was accepted by almost everybody of both genders."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    This book is fantastic. It's not an in depth study of women in America by any means - how can it be, when it does, in fact, cover every one of the 400 years mentioned in the title? - but Collins hits on all the important figures and movements, well known or obscure, and provides a wonderful collection of notes with lists of her favorite sources. I'm a little afraid of just how big my to-read list is going to get now.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna W

    Nice overview of women's history in America, but so broad that it lacks much depth. Easy read if quite long, feels more like journalism rather than history.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Collins covers various aspects of life for American women from the early settlers up through the 1960s, with a very hurried last couple chapters spanning the time after that (but that time period is covered in much more detail in a more recent book, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present). Her writing is not overly academic, which I greatly appreciate, as it was clear and easy to process. She tells history largely through anecdotes but definitely Collins covers various aspects of life for American women from the early settlers up through the 1960s, with a very hurried last couple chapters spanning the time after that (but that time period is covered in much more detail in a more recent book, When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present). Her writing is not overly academic, which I greatly appreciate, as it was clear and easy to process. She tells history largely through anecdotes but definitely cites little details here and there that would easily be missed in a survey class of history. Most of the subjects are white women, and the middle class is heavily represented, though she does talk about immigrant families (generally white European) and African-American women (slaves and free) a lot. There's a little bit about Mexican-Americans and Native Americans, but not much, and anyone not fitting in any of these groups (eg. Asian-Americans) are largely ignored. However, given the time span, I think this book would be a great supplemental text for an American history class. Issues of sexuality (and sexual health) are covered to an extent (with some hypothesizing when records weren't explicit), and there's LOT of examples of the advances and setbacks women have had in the US when it comes to equality. Seeing the same battles being fought over and over (some of which are still *quite* topical) was of most interest to me. I haven't done much with American history since high school, so this book was very refreshing for me to read and definitely made me want to seek out more information about our nation's history, especially from POVs that are not from white men.

  16. 4 out of 5

    D

    an enjoyable but fairly incomplete review of the women of america, punctuated with the most famous, giving a great deal of time to explaining developing cultural impact through the ages. the author acknowledges right up front in the foreword that the title has a problem with intersectionality and giving adequate time to nonwhite, non-middle-class and -rich players. pocahontas is cursorily discussed, and brief mentions are given to native american women and their culture. but the narration is almo an enjoyable but fairly incomplete review of the women of america, punctuated with the most famous, giving a great deal of time to explaining developing cultural impact through the ages. the author acknowledges right up front in the foreword that the title has a problem with intersectionality and giving adequate time to nonwhite, non-middle-class and -rich players. pocahontas is cursorily discussed, and brief mentions are given to native american women and their culture. but the narration is almost uniformly that of a white woman. that is, it is almost always assumed that "women" being spoken of are white (and often middle to upper class), whereas african american women are always designated as such. troubling -- most especially since this book is written from a feminist standpoint. the issues with intersectionality seriously weakened the rating for me. an enjoyable, enlightening, but ultimately lightweight and insufficiently inclusive title.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Thom Sutton

    Really good straight forward account of women's experience in America, from the first western settlers to the beginning of the 21st century. Anything with a subject as broad as this is bound to fall short of being exhaustive, but Collins does a fine job of filling the book with anecdotes and lifestyle descriptions of each generation. The end product is about as in-depth as could reasonably be expected, with the exception of the 1980s onward which are more or less a footnote. It's interesting to Really good straight forward account of women's experience in America, from the first western settlers to the beginning of the 21st century. Anything with a subject as broad as this is bound to fall short of being exhaustive, but Collins does a fine job of filling the book with anecdotes and lifestyle descriptions of each generation. The end product is about as in-depth as could reasonably be expected, with the exception of the 1980s onward which are more or less a footnote. It's interesting to see an account of women that isn't specifically an account of the feminist struggles as it gives a fuller picture of the lives women were expected to lead throughout history, including periods where there weren't any significant 'women's movements'.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Must read for all women to appreciate how far we've come and how lucky we are to live in the time and country we do!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Needs to be read in history classes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Hollingsworth

    Is this 1818, 1918, or 2018? Same struggles. Same conversations. Same resistance. March on!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    There aren't words to express how important this book is for every American woman to read. Every single page I would exclaim out loud to my husband, "I NEVER KNEW THIS!" The most valuable part for me is the centuries of context the book provided. My view of American women's history was confined more or less to the past hundred years—my grandmothers' generation. By starting from the New World in the 1500s and spanning until the 1960s, I got a much more nuanced and complete understanding of the ev There aren't words to express how important this book is for every American woman to read. Every single page I would exclaim out loud to my husband, "I NEVER KNEW THIS!" The most valuable part for me is the centuries of context the book provided. My view of American women's history was confined more or less to the past hundred years—my grandmothers' generation. By starting from the New World in the 1500s and spanning until the 1960s, I got a much more nuanced and complete understanding of the evolution of women's roles, and how they've been often influenced by economics. For instance, I had no idea that in the 1920s, women were holding more jobs and going to college at record rates. During World War II, they continued to work largely outside the home as men were fighting overseas. But when the men got home, most women quit, and "regressed" (controversial word, of course) to roles as homemakers. Cheap mortgages and veteran benefits allowed young families to pursue the "American dream" on one salary, which set the stage for the 1950s housewife, a phenomenon that's actually a very narrow slice of history. In the 1960s, women's roles expanded yet again (the birthrate decreased), only to change again in the 1980s, when society placed more value on women's appearance yet again (the decade in which I grew up and struggled greatly with how I was judged on my looks). I hope that we're now again on an upswing for women's access to every part of society.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sassa

    “America’s Women” is a broad overview of the many women who shaped history in the continent which is now the USA, from the 16th century onward. The book may serve mainly as a jumping point to study individuals of interest in more depth. The last chapter or two veers mostly into the social and political feminism movement and a discussion of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan and not, disappointingly, into the naming of many other individual women who made huge contributions to society in the post W “America’s Women” is a broad overview of the many women who shaped history in the continent which is now the USA, from the 16th century onward. The book may serve mainly as a jumping point to study individuals of interest in more depth. The last chapter or two veers mostly into the social and political feminism movement and a discussion of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan and not, disappointingly, into the naming of many other individual women who made huge contributions to society in the post WW2 timeframe. There are several novels that were popular in their time referenced in “America’s Women” I want to investigate as well as the lives of Sojurner Truth, Louisa Adams, Harry Burns involvement with Tennessee in making women’s right to vote national law.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rowan Eo

    This book gave me "Stuff You Missed in History Class" vibes and was an entertaining read, but I think it's misleading to call it "America's Women" when there is so much erasure of minority women. Black pioneers didn't get nearly enough time in the book when Collins took the time to quote journal entries from everyday white women; lesbian and Latina women got maybe 3 mentions each; the most notable mention of Native American women was Pocahontas; and I don't remember reading anything about Asian This book gave me "Stuff You Missed in History Class" vibes and was an entertaining read, but I think it's misleading to call it "America's Women" when there is so much erasure of minority women. Black pioneers didn't get nearly enough time in the book when Collins took the time to quote journal entries from everyday white women; lesbian and Latina women got maybe 3 mentions each; the most notable mention of Native American women was Pocahontas; and I don't remember reading anything about Asian American women at all. I can see why this book might be hailed as a history of feminism but it certainly isn't comprehensive and provides a misleading insight into what feminism should look like. As a lesbian Asian-American woman, rating this book two stars for how little flavor there is.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    WOW! Every female should read this book. Well-researched and so well written, I learned so much. The ad line, "You've come a long way, baby," is an understatement. It is a long book, 450 pages, but so worth the read. Gail Collins usual witty, , ironic style is not in evidence here. She writes in plain speak, presenting the facts as she discovered them. I highly recommend this book, especially to every girl in high school. The freedoms and opportunities available to women today were hard-fought f WOW! Every female should read this book. Well-researched and so well written, I learned so much. The ad line, "You've come a long way, baby," is an understatement. It is a long book, 450 pages, but so worth the read. Gail Collins usual witty, , ironic style is not in evidence here. She writes in plain speak, presenting the facts as she discovered them. I highly recommend this book, especially to every girl in high school. The freedoms and opportunities available to women today were hard-fought for.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hillary

    An excellent and very thorough history of women from the first colonization of America to present, though I believe the book came before the #MeToo movement. Ordinary and extraordinary women from different points in history are described, using their own words whenever possible, which shows how the role of women in America has changed even over a decade.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This book should be required reading in American History courses. America's Women by Gail Collins is an extremely informative, well-edited and well-writen non-fiction work that looks like a textbook but reads like an epic adventure. And truly, what an adventure it was. In America's Women Collins writes what is more or less a social history of women in America, over the past 400 years-- from what little we know about Native American women, up to near-present time. She highlights not only landslid This book should be required reading in American History courses. America's Women by Gail Collins is an extremely informative, well-edited and well-writen non-fiction work that looks like a textbook but reads like an epic adventure. And truly, what an adventure it was. In America's Women Collins writes what is more or less a social history of women in America, over the past 400 years-- from what little we know about Native American women, up to near-present time. She highlights not only landslide changes that were hugely impactful, but also covers aspects of everyday life history books leave untouched. What makes the book so accessible is Collins' ability to keep it from getting stuffy and dry. With excellently timed touches of wit Collins makes even the most mundane lives seem extraordinary, and puts recognized and deserving heroines of history in context. One of the major themes of this book is that change generally rose out of necessity. A classic example is men leaving to go to war, and women needing to fill in their roles as farm managers or factory workers. However, an opposing theme was with added power comes added responsibility. Collins discusses the period of time before the Civil War when women had become more of a caretaker of the home and family, "Medicine was not much further along than it had been in the colonial era. The difference was that now it was the mother, not God, who society held accountable if anything happened to the baby (136)." A sentiment that may still be true today. There are many great victories in womens equality highlighted in this book. Collins does a fantastic job showcasing all the small moments as well as the epic battles that make a success. Women have come a long way in 400 years.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is a pretty good sized book (450 pages) but it was a really entertaining read. As the title suggests, it is an examination of American women from the first colonists through today. The description makes it sound like a history book, or some dry text book you have to read for a class, but it SO isn't. Collins' has a very, read-able style and peppers the book with sly observations. The thing I liked most about this book was that it wasn't just a dry count of notable or famous women throughout This is a pretty good sized book (450 pages) but it was a really entertaining read. As the title suggests, it is an examination of American women from the first colonists through today. The description makes it sound like a history book, or some dry text book you have to read for a class, but it SO isn't. Collins' has a very, read-able style and peppers the book with sly observations. The thing I liked most about this book was that it wasn't just a dry count of notable or famous women throughout American history. Instead, it is more of a 360 degree view of women. There are many descriptions of cultural things like clothing, medicine practices, childbirth, what their social life was like, and even what they did about "that time of the month" (you know you always wonder...). There are also explorations in the influence and power (or lack thereof) that women had throughout different periods of time. The historical information is fascinating, and the highlights of individual women (both known and unkown) is really what makes this book so great. I now have great admiration for the struggles of our foremothers. I highly recommend this book!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    I enjoyed the book until the end. I knew it was written with a very feminist bent, and I took in the information accordingly. I was willing to do so because the history was interesting and because I wanted to read her conclusion. Here are 400 years of women, here is where we are now, and here's how we move forward as women in society. I was sorely disappointed. Her conclusion was that the huge leap for women from the 70s onward hurt the families and communities but that it was impossible not to I enjoyed the book until the end. I knew it was written with a very feminist bent, and I took in the information accordingly. I was willing to do so because the history was interesting and because I wanted to read her conclusion. Here are 400 years of women, here is where we are now, and here's how we move forward as women in society. I was sorely disappointed. Her conclusion was that the huge leap for women from the 70s onward hurt the families and communities but that it was impossible not to celebrate anyway. Just an "oh well" attitude. There was no help or hope for the working mom who has to do it all. In fact, though published in 2003, there were few pages on the 80s and 90s women at all. Does their history not matter? I was really hoping for an interesting perspective on how all of the women's history of the past 400 years leads us into the future, or at least how it can help us in the present. Maybe not a complete waste of time, but I am not a happy reader tonight...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    This is a good retrospective of women in America from the 1600's to 2000. It touches on all of the notable women of the past 400 years plus a couple of not so famous women. For those who read a lot of American historical fiction/non-fiction there is not a lot of new information to be learned. However, I think it does give one an overall perceptive of the rise of women's status throughout American history, and sometimes how women have had to fight years and years for equal rights and protection a This is a good retrospective of women in America from the 1600's to 2000. It touches on all of the notable women of the past 400 years plus a couple of not so famous women. For those who read a lot of American historical fiction/non-fiction there is not a lot of new information to be learned. However, I think it does give one an overall perceptive of the rise of women's status throughout American history, and sometimes how women have had to fight years and years for equal rights and protection and how at other times because of economic changes, women's roles were changed almost overnight. If nothing else it celebrates and gives credit to all of the American women who have contributed to the molding of our American culture and should be required reading for all high school students.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Linda Robinson

    Lindsay recommended this book, and I am grateful. What a collection of stories, history, anecdotes, curiosities and tragedies. Some amazing tidbits about people I thought I had read enough about, and clearly hadn't - like the paragraph about Margaret Mitchell walking out of a history class at Smith because an African American woman had joined. I gathered more insight in this one book than the dozens I've read about women's history before. Covering the first European woman to come to these shores Lindsay recommended this book, and I am grateful. What a collection of stories, history, anecdotes, curiosities and tragedies. Some amazing tidbits about people I thought I had read enough about, and clearly hadn't - like the paragraph about Margaret Mitchell walking out of a history class at Smith because an African American woman had joined. I gathered more insight in this one book than the dozens I've read about women's history before. Covering the first European woman to come to these shores through to 2000 (the research must have been daunting) it's easier to watch patterns emerge. Collins organizes the decades in brilliant form, perfectly satisfying and enthralling. I wonder what the lives of American women would be like today if the guys didn't throw the country into wars every couple of decades?

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.