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A History of Their Own
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Combining superb scholarship and sheer readability, this is a revelatory, much-needed survey of women in European history. Women took to the barricades in the uprisings of 1848, defending short-lived republics in Paris, Vienna, Rome, Berlin. Names like Black Anna and Jeanne Hachette attest to the prominent roles women played in peasant revolts, bread riots and union organizing. Thousands of female Soviet soldiers saw active combat and helped defeat Hitler. Women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance were troubadours, courtiers, singers, composers, writers; excluded from men's painter guilds, women found ways to practice art. All these accomplishments were achieved under the double burden women facehousehold chores plus the need to earn additional money for one's family. The authorsAnderson teaches at Brooklyn College, Zinsser teaches at the U.N. International Schoolfocus on the centuries after 1600 and end with a responsible history of feminism in its mainstream, socialist and lesbian varieties. Reading this book is an education. Photos. (October)

Organized around the thesis that ``gender has been the most important factor in shaping the lives of European women,'' this sweeping history describes women's experience in terms of social groups and work, with chronology secondary. The approach, which revealed interesting themes in volume 1 ( LJ 5/1/88), is inadequate for the rapid changes of the 19th and 20th centuries. More minor flaws mar this volume. The section on prostitution flows directly into that dealing with performing arts, perpetuating an unfortunate old association. Women's struggles to organize trade unions are greatly oversimplified. Only partially successful. Mary Drake McFeely, Univ. of Georgia Lib., Athens

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