Wednesday, June 8, 2011

America's Women by Gail Collins

Although it's a cultural history of women in America since the first European settlers, America's Women possesses none of the stodginess or predictability of such chronicles. Former New York Times editorial writer Collins has a keen sense of her subject's richness. The author of Scorpion Tongues moves from everyday details to social generalization without sacrificing the thrust of her narrative or her central theme: "the tension between the yearning to create a home and the urge to get out of it."

I have had this one sliding around on the floor of the car forever waiting until I had absolutely nothing else left to listen to - my expectations for enjoyment were LOW. I went in with such low expectations that my experience exceeded them just by being somewhat interesting. America's Women is a series of essays about women in American history highlighting some names that were familiar and some new to me. Gail Collins actually tells a good story and because this was like a series of short stories with just the tiniest bit of reflection/discussion thrown in, I enjoyed the essays. The essays were in chronological order, that really helped with my weak history background. It was also a good book for the car since they were fairly short essays and could usually be finished in one trip. I would never have made it through in print because it didn't "hook" me - this was a very passive experience on my part. I started the car, it came up through the speakers and I just let it play.

Thinking about the content - the role of women in history and especially the challenges they have faced, this book gave a great overview. Time allows for some of it to seem quaint, the rules from the days of the old west about riding side saddle. But the fights for racial equality are still hurtful to hear about and the idea of the ERA not passing through with ease in my own lifetime is really hard to wrap my head around. I enjoyed the stories and I think I learned a little bit.

And, because it is Audiobook Week, this can count as an entry in all the great giveaways Jen has going on!


Amused said...

I think I would like this. I have never listened to essays on audio so I am certainly intrigued.

Shelley said...

I listened to this a couple of years ago and found it very interesting and easy to listen to. It is always shocking to me when I think how recently in history many of these things took place.