This book kicked off a brand new Book Club for my area and it was a wonderful start. Gail Collins, the author has been a long time favorite of mine and she did an excellent job of making this book relatable for all ages. Her ability to personalize events and allow the reader to jump into various women’s lives during these events made me feel as if I was there sharing in the emotions of these women.
While I felt that I knew a lot about this time, considering I was around for most of it, this book gave me so much more of the big picture. I had forgotten a lot of what was going on in my local community but also did not realize what was going on all over our nation as these were the days before instant news.
But, I really believe that the discussion that resulted from my club reading this, gave me even more of a feel of living history. The women in my book club range in age from mid 30’s to mid 70’s. We were all raised in different sections of the United States and other countries which led to a wonderful discussion. I believe this should be encouraged reading for anyone but especially younger women to help them understand the incredible leap women have taken in the last 50 years.
When Everything Changed begins in 1960, when most American women had to get their husbands’ permission to apply for a credit card. It ends in 2008 with Hillary Clinton’s historic presidential campaign. This was a time of cataclysmic change, when, after four hundred years, expectations about the lives of American women were smashed in just a generation.
A comprehensive mix of oral history and Gail Collins’s keen research–covering politics, fashion, popular culture, economics, sex, families, and work–When Everything Changed is the definitive book on five crucial decades of progress. The enormous strides made since 1960 include the advent of the birth control pill, the end of “Help Wanted–Male” and “Help Wanted–Female” ads, and the lifting of quotas for women in admission to medical and law schools. Gail Collins describes what has happened in every realm of women’s lives, partly through the testimonies of both those who made history and those who simply made their way.
Picking up where her highly lauded book America’s Women left off, When Everything Changed is a dynamic story, told with the down-to-earth, amusing, and agenda-free tone for which this beloved New York Times columnist is known. Older readers, men and women alike, will be startled as they are reminded of what their lives once were–“Father Knows Best” and “My Little Margie” on TV; daily weigh-ins for stewardesses; few female professors; no women in the Boston marathon, in combat zones, or in the police department. Younger readers will see their history in a rich new way. It has been an era packed with drama and dreams–some dashed and others realized beyond anyone’s imagining.