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Publishers WeeklyIn 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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