Well researched and well written, America's Women
: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines is a powerful and important book. Starting with Pocahontas and Eleanor Dare (the first female colonist), this lively and fascinating history records the changes in American women
's lives and the transformations in American society from the 1580s through the 2000s. A history of the oft-marginalized sex must often draw from diaries and journals, which were disproportionally written by whites; as a result, African-American and Native American women are not as well represented as white in the earlier chapters of America's Women
. However, Gail Collins writes about women of many races and ethnicities, and in fact provides more information about Native Americans, African-Americans, and Chinese, Jewish, and Italian immigrants than some general U.S. history books. She writes about rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural, slave and slave-owner, athlete and aviatrix
, president's wife and presidential candidate--and, of course, men and women. And some of these women--from the justly famous, like Clara Barton
and Harriet Tubman
, to the undeservedly obscure, like Elizabeth Eckford and Senator Margaret Chase Smith
--will not only make any woman proud to be a woman, they will make any American proud to be American.
Women have played important roles in American history from the earliest days, although they have not always been adequately recognized. Harriet Tubman was born a slave in Maryland and spent her years before the Civil War helping slaves escape on the Underground Railroad to freedom. Amelia Earhart was a pioneer of American aviation who set records and achieved world fame before disappearing on a flight over the Pacific Ocean.