America's women activists have striven bravely and tirelessly to affect the course of American history. Their story, as told in letters, memoirs, diaries, and speeches, is as wide and varied as America itself. This anthology begins with the then-government's attempt to silence Anne Hutchinson, not permitted to address mixed audiences of men and women in the Massachusetts Bay colony, and leads to the formation of the women's rights movement. Highlights include Sojourner Truth describing her escape from slavery; Alice Walker's assessment of her work to end female genital mutilation; and Margarethe Cammermeyer's attempt to end the military's discharge of homosexuals.
In Kathryn Cullen-DuPont's new book, women activists of all persuasions talk about how and why they decided to speak up-and out. This splendid book made me feel a connection to these women and what they have done to make all our lives possible. An ususual and illuminating book-club choice.
Cullen-DuPont, who has created several reference works about American women, including The Encyclopedia of Women's History in America, here offers an anthology of writings by women. This work is distinguished from many similar efforts by both its chronological scope it ranges from Anne Hutchinson's 1637 trial to Hillary Clinton's 1995 speech at the World Conference on Women in Beijing and by the breadth of the activism these women have engaged in, which includes Eileen Collins's being the first woman to pilot a U.S. space shuttle. Cullen-DuPont provides somewhat longer and less standard passages from the writings of her subjects than those found in other anthologies and introduces each with a one-paragraph discussion that sets the work in historical perspective. Although many of the names are familiar, she strives to make this collection more diverse by giving us excerpts from the work of women like Jessie Lopez de la Cruz, Merle Woo, Wilma Mankiller, and Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii. Also included are Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer, who fought the military exclusion on gays, and Phyllis Schlafly, representing antifeminist activist women. A good value, this is recommended for public libraries, though librarians should check that the unusually large number of typos in the uncorrected page proofs have been addressed. Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, DC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.