Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States in the Twentieth Century

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9780140232820: Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States in the Twentieth Century

This volume chronicles the story of women's changing lives; not a simple story of progress but of the diversity of historical change, the complexity of women's responses and strategies both collectively and personally. Narrative chapters divided by decade are augmented by short thematic essays, on subjects such as "suffrage", "abortion rights", and "women and film". A final biographical section details the lives of significant women of the century.

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Review:

As its title suggests, Sheila Rowbotham's A Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States is a monumental study--scholarly, readable, well-illustrated, well-indexed--of Western women's experience in the 20th century. As a feminist historian, Rowbotham is aware of the scope of her task, beginning her survey with the problems that have been crucial to the study of women's history as such: "Who and what gets into the record of the past"? "How do you start to document the everyday, the experience which leaves no written, or visual, trace?" With the exception of two chapters devoted to the aftermath of the First and Second World War--periods which saw key changes in the patterns of women's work, for example--the study is divided, decade by decade, with distinct sections on Britain and the United States. Allowing for an awareness of the differences, as well as the cultural exchange, between Britain and the US, Rowbotham gives a fresh sense of the diverse history of contemporary feminism and (some of) the women--writers, critics, Hollywood icons, politicians, amongst others--who have contributed to it. Concluding with brief biographies of the key players, and with an extensive bibliography, the book is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to know more about women's recent history. -- Vicky Lebeau

Review:

'Indispensible - A lively, readable, and balanced account of the gender wars of one messy century.' --Naomi Wolf, The Times

'A fascinating map of progress and pitfalls over the past 100 years.' --Independent

'A courageous, thought-provoking and very political work - honest and frequently moving.' --Observer

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Sheila Rowbotham
Published by Penguin Books (1999)
ISBN 10: 0140232826 ISBN 13: 9780140232820
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