Although it's a history, author and professor Majorie J. Spruill's book about women's rights is very much of the moment. Like historian Rick Perlstein ("Nixonland," "The Invisible Bridge"), Spruill writes about the past in a way that illuminates and makes sense of the present, especially of the deep divisions between Left and Right. The bulk of her book takes place in the 70s with the rise of feminism and activists like Gloria Steinem and the subsequent conservative backlash, led by Phyllis Schlafly, who successfully merged religion and politics in a way that still impacts us. While I don't think Spruill can help but be sympathetic to the feminist position, she does try to be fair and balanced. Given how polarized our current climate it is, it is helpful, if depressing, to see how women's rights were, for a time, a bipartisan issue and that the ERA, which was defeated largely due to the efforts of Schlafly and her minions, had strong support. An important book for anyone interested in women's rights (which should be everyone), the historical roots of our split culture, and political history.
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