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This second of four volumes, moves quickly from feudalism to the French revolution. Firmly rooted in more modern history, novelist and scholar French (The Women's Room) writes less theoretically and more concretely than in volume 1. Beautifully sourced and referenced, the book shows, for instance, that in the 1400s Protestant and Catholic theologians transformed marriage from a private arrangement "into a complex public ceremony" that granted men more power. Women came to have less and less say in when and whom they would wed. Discussing the colonization of Africa, French illustrates how traditional, more egalitarian African gender roles were altered under European property-based, Christian social structures. French also begins to focus on how female sexuality was interpreted by a male-dominated culture. Marie Antoinette, for example, was convicted and executed not only for supporting her husband but for sexually corrupting the dauphin and thus "the body politic." Filled with fascinating detail and powerful arguments, this second volume of French's massive and valuable work is an example of scholarship and clear vision. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.