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

Gail Collins—a trailblazer herself as the first female editor of the New York Times editorial page—presents a sprawling and lively picture of women and their struggle for equality that begins in the Victorian Era and continues on through the 70s. Often neglected areas like the role of women in colonial America are brought to life as she gives us the blood and sweat of daily life for women of all races and classes.

Collins is a gifted storyteller, and opens each chapter in America’s Women with an excerpt from a journal or diary.  This kind of touch made the read a more intimate experience and closer to the women in the stories. Collins also has a keen eye for the subtleties and ambiguities of gender politics, that are not talked about as much as they should, asserting that women’s struggle has been “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.”  Collins has made another contribution to women’s history books and great books for women with this book.

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