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

America's Women by Gail Collins
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's review
Jun 27, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: nonfiction, womens-studies, historical
Recommended for: Every American Woman

How amusing that I finish this fabulous book on Independence Day.

As a woman trying to dig deeper into the great history of those who have labored before me, I had a hard time finding a concise and readable account in one location before this book. Collins has laid out the foundations of where women stand today in such an engaging manner that I could hardly stand to put the book down when I had to. I found the incredible amount of detail in referencing shocking; the last hundred or so pages are just notes and quotes alone. Seldom have I found a historical text to be so complete and enjoyable, and it was a joy to flip each page.

The history literally came alive for me. From Dare to Truth to Paul, and every woman in between, I felt pride swell in my heart with each story of struggle and triumph. Collins left little unexplored; even the question of menstrual issues for early colonial settlers popped up, and although I was disappointed to learn that no one knows for sure how women coped with their periods during cloth shortages, it was something I have, and I'm sure the rest of the Tampax/Kotex Generation have, never given much thought towards. How exactly does one fend off the red flood while fending off the native flood as well, child strapped to the back, alone on the frontier?

Another story that caught my attention was the plight of the WACs during the second World War. It was heart breaking to bring up theses brave female pilots to elderly family members, who didn't know who they were, let alone the sacrifices they committed for their country during wartime. Having no place in the memory of the people they protected and served was almost as sad as the U.S. Military denying the pilots military burial rites. It's one thing to be denied. It's another thing to be forgotten.

There are so many tales of struggles told in this book that every woman needs to pass on to her daughters. These are the memories we need to hold onto and be thankful for every time we go to work, sit in class, or go to the polls.

I have read many books in my time, but rarely do I find one that has changed my life so.


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