From the Publisher
"[French's] coverage is encyclopedic, but her prose is impressively accessible, creating a rare find: a page-turning, can't-put-it-down history text. . . . This is not a simple repackaging of history for women. French instead gives life to a new way of looking at the world as it exists for women. Her history is sure to inspire the burgeoning feminist in every woman and man. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries and essential for universities with women's studies programs."
Library Journal, starred review
"Offers fascinating insight and detail."
"[Marilyn French] still knows how to keep the pages turning."
Time Out New York
"Leaves the reader breathless. This richly researched volume paints memorable images and with passion and vision, shows us how a century that began with men claiming women as their property ended with women's demands for an end to their subjugation."
Meg McGavran Murray, author of Margaret Fuller, Wandering Pilgrim
In the third volume of her remarkable four-volume survey, French (The Women's Room) illuminates how the industrial revolution worked against women over the course of the 19th century. French begins with imperialism in Africa, documenting the introduction of slavery and industrialization that would decimate traditional African society-including active and powerful positions traditionally held by women, who today are still threatened by the slave trade. In Europe and America, the industrial revolution offered for many family-bound young women a chance at freedom and camaraderie-but only through exploitative, dangerous work in poor conditions and for menial pay. Even then, the patriarchic society worked to keep women and children from any kind of economic or political freedom. At the same time, oppression only drove female workers closer together; with fellow suffering came organization, strength and ultimately a push for labor reform and women's rights. French's well-researched account spans the globe and offers fascinating insight and detail; unfortunately, it loses steam as it progresses, cruising through the labor and women's rights movements in typical textbook fashion.
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Feminist Press now brings the second half of French's monumental work, originally published in Canada in 2003, to a thankful American audience. Volumes 3 and 4 delve into the economic and political revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries. Industrialization and the ensuing capitalist, Socialist, Communist, and anti-imperialist movements across the globe all benefit from French's erudite feminist historical treatment. Her coverage is encyclopedic, but her prose is impressively accessible, creating a rare find: a page-turning, can't-put-it-down history text. The book's simple premise is concisely stated in the foreword by Margaret Atwood: "Women, it seems, are not a footnote after all." Yet to bring a gender-inclusive history to fruition required 15 years of comprehensive scholarship, all highly visible in each volume. Biographies of exceptional women, ethnographic studies, anthropological scholarship, and feminist theory bolster French's historical narrative.With women at the center of this history, examination of power is vital; French tackles its core: the political structures, economic forces, and social practices that allow one group of people to dominate another. She highlights the exploitation of female labor in both the public and the private spheres as well as the patriarchal structure of political systems, including those that claim egalitarianism. She notes women's attempts to counter oppressive institutions and practices, e.g., via suffrage movements in Great Britain and the United States and anti-colonialist revolutions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. French is always keenly aware of the collision among gender, race, and class, never glossing over women's shiftingposition on the power scale as both oppressed and oppressor. She doesn't shy away from biology either, acknowledging the challenges presented by the female body's unique ability to bear life. This is not a simple repackaging of history for women. French instead gives life to a new way of looking at the world as it exists for women. Her history is sure to inspire the burgeoning feminist in every woman and man. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries and essential for universities with women's studies programs.