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When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present
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When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  3,186 ratings  ·  649 reviews
Gail Collins, New York Times columnist and bestselling author, recounts the astounding revolution in women's lives over the past 50 years, with her usual "sly wit and unfussy style" (People).

When Everything Changed begins in 1960, when most American women had to get their husbands' permission to apply for a credit card. It ends in 2008 with Hillary Clinton's historic presi
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Paperback, 512 pages
Published October 21st 2010 by Back Bay Books (first published October 14th 2009)
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Julie Ekkers
I like Gail Collins' columns so I picked this up, but did not expect to learn much that was new only because I've read a lot of post-WWII history and women's history. But I learned a lot! Collins weaves interviews she did with regular folks who lived through these times with reporting on the events of those years. I thought this approach gave the reader the best of both worlds--the broader picture, and the individual people moving through it. The sections on the 1960s and 70s were especially wel ...more
Elizabeth Hall Magill
Holy smokin moley. Please, please, pretty please with freedom on top, read When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, by Gail Collins. Read it and remember your foremothers—your great-grandmother, your grandmother, your mother. Read it and weep. Read it and sing. And then tell your friends to read it. This book will make you want to finish history, because it will tell you what history is—and remind you, in the skin of your own life, why history need ...more
Chris
I've always thought of myself as "moderate" on most political issues, but recent conversations with co-workers have helped me realize my views fall squarely in the "liberal" category. So, when The New York Times gave a rave review to this book, I decided it was time to educate myself about some true liberals (or "libbers", as the case may be) and added it to my library hold list.

My first impression was the one I get from so many columnists-turned-book-writers: It reads like a huge collection of
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Megan
This is a personable, insightful look at "the women's movement". Really she covers more than from 1960, in order to compare the later half of the century to the times before it. Collins does a nice job of putting efforts for gender equality into historical context; in particular, I enjoyed her writing on how it interacted with the civil rights movement. While not perfectly universal in her approach, Collins also does a decent job of bringing in the experience of not only middle- or upper-class E ...more
Dana Stabenow
I was too young and also incredibly lucky to have been raised by a mother who never said "You can't do that, honey, you're a girl" to be paying enough attention to the women's rights movement. So it's lucky Collins wrote this definitive history, so I can read about Lois Rabinowitz getting thrown out of a NYC court in 1960 because she's wearing slacks, and about Tahita Jenkins, fired from her job as a New York City bus driver in 2007 because she wouldn't wear pants.

The greatest irony of the celeb
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Jrumrill
I thought this was a pretty balanced portrayal of the journey of the women's movement and what became of it. I was very hopeful when I started the book that it would not be an "Amazing Journey of [white, middle-class, college- educated feminine mystique] American Women, and I was not disappointed. Collins wove together the expreiences of women from all social classes, racial backgrounds, levels of education, wealth, etc.
I was most excited to read the section about my generation of women, but th
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Jarrah
I’d bought this book when it first came out, being a big fan of Collins’ New York Times columns, but I’d put off reading it after reading Collins’ subsequent open letter to young American women, which basically laid the decline of popular feminism at the feet of young women. I argued it was insulting to young feminists and showed a complete lack of accountability for any problems in the second wave feminist movement.

Eventually I came back to the book, having just read Rebecca Traister’s Big Girl
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Grady McCallie
Born in 1969, I found this history of women in American society, from 1960 to the present, especially illuminating for the years before 1990. It's certainly not academic. Gail Collins' writing is lively but in this book, in contrast to her newspaper columns, only rarely facetious. Using anecdotes more than statistics, Collins paints a compelling picture of the conventions and social expectations that shaped women's lives before and during the 1960s and 1970s, and of the struggles for women's rig ...more
Gail Goetschius
This is an important book filled with information that everyone should know. Although I was only nine in 1960 and unaware of the movement for the first few years I have followed it avidly for most of my life. However, there was plenty I did not know.

For one thing I did not know, or conveniently forgot how abrasive some factions of the early movement were. They seemed to want to do away with family and men in general. Perhaps this is why some women my age refuse to identify as feminists. I see it
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Diana Band
I consider myself a pretty voracious reader, and I've read a lot of great books -- fiction and nonfiction -- over the years. But, it is rare that I read a book that is so life-changing...I'm looking at the world differently after this read, and am encouraging everyone I know to read it. A quoted review inside calls "When Everything Changed" "compulsively readable" -- and it is. I was shocked to find myself unable to put this book down, dying to know "what happened next" even as I got into the de ...more
Sarah
This is the book that I helped research in 2005/2006, and interviewed a whole bunch of women for. It comes out this October - I can't wait to read it!
Patty
It has taken me awhile to finish this book, but that was only because other reading had to come first. When I had time, I was immersed in the story that Collins tells in this book. I think Collins has done an excellent job of recording American women’s history. Since the period she covers (1960-2008) is the better part of my life, I had experienced much of what she records here. However, I had not looked back at women’s journey in any organized way.

I am grateful to Collins for all the work she p
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Emily
While it's not as punchy as her newspaper columns, Gail Collins's book When Everything Changed is a fantastically lively and readable account of the women's movement from the 1960's to today. The success of the movement makes it possible for people my age to take its achievements literally for granted; reading this history not only makes you appreciate the conviction and initiative of these women, but makes it seem possible to do much more.

The story is told through anecdotes from women of differ
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Bill
Received as a gift, e-book edition; read it on the Kindle app on my new iPad mini.

I read this to brush up a little on feminism and women's rights. I still feel unversed in the topic, but at the same time I can thoroughly recommend this book as providing a valuable perspective. It's essentially women telling their own stories about their roles in the culture wars of the late 20th century, knit into a broader narrative by the author. I found myself clipping on halfway through the thing and suddenl
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Magpie67
A stunning look at an era that I was too young to understand and now old enough to say, why wasn't this information taught in school? A book that should be taught in every high school in the United States. The wealth of information in this title is outstanding. Gail did her research and more beyond that... She interview multiple women throughout the country to give us a broad view of the problems many were facing. So much history, so many women to salute for all their hard work they achieved in ...more
Joleigh
During the 1960's, I was in high and then college. I got married in 1970, had a baby in 1971, and was divorced in 1972. Quick work, you might say! Much of what Gail Collins writes in this book I had either forgotten or wasn't paying attention. Probably the latter, because I was too busy living my life. I did become involved in the Women's Movement when my daughter was about twelve and I began to worry that much of what I had begun to take for granted would not be there for her. Now I have a gran ...more
John
I learned a lot from this book, and unlike other books about women that I've started--but not yet finished--(Feminine Mystique, Second Sex) this one really grabbed me. It's a brisk read, funny in parts, and it deftly provides an overview of the seismic cultural shifts in American culture over the past fifty years.

In 1960, women had a small number of choices in life: get married and raise children, stay single and become a social outcast (this view hasn't been stamped out entirely), or work as a
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Julie
Grrr...interesting. The first part of this book was slightly infuriating -- not to mention I was totally PMS'ing when I read it. (The author would probably not appreciate this note, but it's true!) Collins tries to tell the story of women's oppression in the U.S., and how suffragists and feminists rose up to fight back. She writes in sweeping generalities, without any thought or comment as to how women's roles may have evolved naturally (last time I checked, only women were "allowed" to give bir ...more
Diane
Saw this book on a Women's History Month display as I was walking through the library and thought - Aha! This book is about me. And it was. I had forgotten, or maybe hadn't paid attention at the time,to some of the things in the 60s that drove the women's movement. Now I remember that I couldn't go to graduate school and get in-state tuition unless my husband signed that I really lived in Texas, couldn't have a credit card in my own name, couldn't buy property on my own. And the things we wore! ...more
Sirpa Grierson
This was for our family book group, Nourishing Utterances. It is a harder read for many who don't love history as it has little narrative flow and introduces so many stories of women that overlap in odd places. I enjoyed parts but felt that although I have lived through these times, I have always been tremendously thrilled to be a woman, rather that feeling oppressed. I do agree with Collins' definition of a feminist--one who is for equal rights under the law and equal wages. Feminism has become ...more
Laura
I loved this book! Born in 1973, I'm too old to have learned about this time in history class (it was still new!) and too young to have lived through it. Reading this book made me feel like I'd taken a really great women's studies survey course about the US. It is both academic and readable covering political issues that stunned me (Republican women were in favor of the ERA), dramatic barriers women faced (no ability to go to graduate school, no ability to prevent pregnancy, no ability to purcha ...more
Amy
Full review available here.

I love Gail Collins. I read her book America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines in college, heard her speak at my grad school (UMass Amherst) and adore her columns (totally nailed the bishops v. birth control brouhaha). Also, it seemed a good fit for my Feminist Book Club, so we picked it for our January read.

I was a little disappointed. I’m a former women’s studies student, so there wasn’t much in here with which I wasn’t already familiar. T
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Jan
Unfortunately, I waited a very long seven months on the hold list at my local library to finally receive a copy of this book. Perhaps my expectations rose a little too high through this waiting period. I wanted to really, really like this book. I wanted to give it 5 stars. But I simply didn't think it was as great as I had anticipated.

I did greatly enjoy the first half of the book, where Collins explains where women's rights were prior to 1960 and what happened throughout the 1960s (and its rela
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Billy
Was useful in raising my consciousness, and I was won over to her thesis that the most drastic changes for women in American social, political and economic life happened rapidly over about two generations. There's a lot in here, but I was surprised to find almost nothing on the role of religion in enforcing traditional gender notions. Gail Collins has a talent for civility and charm even when disagreeing vehemently (see her joint online columns with David Brooks); the effect is of someone with p ...more
Jenna
Well, that explains a lot.

I also finally "get" the book Stranger in a Strange Land, which I was completely flummoxed by when I read it back in high school. The sci-fi story, written in the 60s, really shows more of the time it was written in than anything else. The notion of free love and the sexual revolution are obvious themes, and the treatment of women as suitable for supportive roles but never leaders is an attitude that permeates the entire story and is the main reason I was unable to like
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Alex Templeton
This was an interesting history of American women from 1960 to the present (as the title says!). I certainly learned some things I didn't know before, and felt grateful, as I always do, to be a women born in 1982, when many of the actions of the women of the generations before me came to positive fruition. In general, however, I found that this book would be much more enjoyable as an introduction to women's history over the past 40 years for someone who doesn't know a lot about the subject. Havi ...more
Matt
While reading this book has gone a long way to impressing the women in my life, in all honesty, I picked it up solely because it was written by Gail Collins. I love her New York Times column, and expected more of the same extended for 400+ pages. While lacking some of the giggle-inducing snarkiness of her column, I was not disappointed. Prior to indulging I thought I was fairly well versed in the feminist movement of the last half-century. This self-assessment turned out to be woefully inadequat ...more
Betsy
Jan 01, 2010 Betsy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I like recent history, not the really old stuff, so this book which covers the astonishing changes that have affected women (and men) since I was born 50 years ago was fun to read. Plus it's written by a NYTimes columnist whose wry humor (and point of view) I've long enjoyed. For teen-age and twenty-something women, this book may prove an eye-opener. As a reporter who started covering "family issues" in the 1980s, and started living them soon after, I was reminded of how far we've come from the ...more
Robyn Grad
It took me a long time to pick this up to read--it was a gift. So glad I did. The style of quoting people without delving too much into their stories bothered me (Barbara Winslow--guess I'll have to look up your research!) but the whole era (ERA) in context is extremely well done. I highly recommend it.
Patti
I really liked this book for a number of reasons, including, not least of all, the fact that it brought back a world to me that I'd really forgotten. My father had to co-sign for my very first checking account when I was in college, my husband had to co-sign for my tubal ligation, my sister was sent home from a college class for wearing pants even though it was January in upstate NY, etc.
Times really have changed for the much, much better for women, though there's still much to do. I welcome th
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Gail Collins was the Editorial Page Editor of The New York Times from 2001 to January 1, 2007. She was the first woman Editorial Page Editor at the Times.

Born as Gail Gleason, Collins has a degree in journalism from Marquette University and an M.A. in government from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Beyond her work as a journalist, Collins has published several books; Scorpion Tongues: Gos
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More about Gail Collins...
America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines As Texas Goes...: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda William Henry Harrison (The American Presidents, #9) Scorpion Tongues New and Updated Edition: Gossip, Celebrity, and American Politics Grit, Courage and Change:  Women in the Last 50 Years

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“[Ella Baker]'s second defining characteristic was her dislike of top-down leadership... 'She felt leaders were not appointed but the rose up. Someone will rise. Someone will emerge'. It was an attitude Baker shared with some of the older women in the movement.” 2 likes
“How did I make a living? I haven't. I have eked out an existence." - Ella Baker” 1 likes
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