Knowing that I have a thirst to learn about the accomplishments and real-life experiences of women throughout history, a co-worker loaned me her copy of America's Women and two other books when I was on medical leave in 2009. I read through the two novels and was soon back at work, with this one book setting by my comfy loveseat....waiting. I read in spurts and couldn't nudge myself past the first few pages for two more months. However, when that thirst returned I was drawn right in to the fascinating history of our fore-mothers here in the United States (which is admittedly similar to the history of women worldwide. The details may differ but the struggles are the same.)
Gail Collins (author) put an incredible amount of detail in her book beginning with Virginia Dare, the first known female in the US colonies, and ending with our struggle of equal recognition for equal endeavors. I found myself reading about four pages at a sitting so that I could absorb the information! The names, dates, and places were so exact....so complete. It was like a full college course on the subject within the hardcovers.
It reviewed the Salem tragedies which I had studied before, but also went into new territory for me. I devoured the chapter detailing how some women taught young freed (former) slave girls, bucking the system that demanded that they were not to be educated. These brave women even had their schools and homes burned for their beliefs. They and their students chose not to buckle to pressure. Bravo!
I had previous read first hand accounts of women's experiences as nurses and enlisted personnel in WWII. Here I learned about how the government only created the womens' corps as appeasement and used them (mostly) to fill in desk jobs or to test airplanes before sending the machines into battle. (If the plane crashed, who was lost....?!)
I read throughout the summer and fall, sometimes sitting at the picnic table outside work at lunch while gleaning what I could from those passages and the mid-day sunshine. I may look for a copy to add to my permanent bookshelf. It's that good. And I highly recommend this book if you have the time and the resolve to learn about America's gutsy women.