Grady McCallie's Reviews > When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present

When Everything Changed by Gail Collins
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's review
May 31, 2012

really liked it

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 rights. When the book reached periods I know from experience, it seemed more superficial and less emotionally powerful. I can't tell whether the book itself changed, or simply seemed thinner against the more detailed memories I have of public policy debates (and passing news stories) of the last two decades. At any rate, this book has helped fill in my understanding of liberated boomer colleagues - no surprises, really, but I kept reading passages and thinking, well of course, no wonder my friend X reacted in the way she did in a recent conversation; if I had grown up with experiences at all like those described here, I think I'd feel the same way. I'm not sure of Collins' purpose in writing the book, but broadening a reader's empathy and understanding of other peoples' life experiences is no small achievement.
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