Books 2/12/05

I finished Gail Collins’ America’s Women, and was impressed, instructed, and not just a bit outraged. Collins does an excellent job of giving an overview of the history of the US while placing women firmly within that history. I now know more about US history than I ever learned in school, and I think that having this book as required reading in highschool history classes would not only teach the students a whole lot, but ignite their passion for history. When you can see how all the pieces fit together and influence each other, it makes a whole lot more sense.
One of the themes of the book is mixed messages and condradictions that women have been subject to (and in many cases, perpetuating) throughout the history of the country- that women should be helpless yet able to run entire estates while their husbands were away, that they should be home raising their children yet working in the factories to keep the economy afloat. Collins does an excellent job tracking these cycles, pointing out the inconsistencies and frustrations.
My outrage comes from the things Collins reports- not with any fault of the book. When she describes the goverment investigating whether rumors of WACs in WW2 being promiscous and serving as geishas were enemy propaganda and discovering in fact that it was US soldiers who had started it, you just want to slap people. A whole lot of jackassery happened in this country, by all kinds of people, to all kinds of people, and the injustice of it makes me angry. I’m grateful I live in the time I do, that I have the luxury of taking for granted that I grew up being taught that all people are equal and should be treated so. I’m grateful that this book showed me what made that even possible. I’ll be buying this book for a great number of people this year.

I’ve been meaning to read Personal Velocity by Rebecca Miller for quite some time now, and finally got around to checking it out of the library. It’s really quite good. It’s a collection of short stories about women at a crossroad in their life, and some of the stories intersect as women mentioned in one story show up in a story of their own. It looks at art, at courage, at life, and it captures these women’s lives in vivid snapshots. I need to read it again when I’m in more of a frame of mind to think critically about it- I’m sure there are themes running throughout the stories that I missed.

Just picked up from the library:
The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman
All the Available Light: A Marilyn Monroe Reader edited by Yona Zeldis McDonough
The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt
Die Laughing by Carola Dunn
Simone Weil by Francine de Plessix Gray

Current total:15
Just Finished: Personal Velocity by Rebecca Miller
Currently Reading: Hanging out with the Dream King by Joseph McCabe

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