No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women

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9780345450531: No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women
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“On the situations of women around the world today, this one book provides more illumination and insight than a dozen others combined. . . . Freedman’s survey is a triumph of global scope and informed precision.”
–NANCY F. COTT
Professor of History, Harvard University

Repeatedly declared dead by the media, the women’s movement has never been as vibrant as it is today. Indeed as Stanford professor and award-winning author Estelle B. Freedman argues in her compelling book, feminism has reached a critical momentum from which there is no turning back. Freedman examines the historical forces that have fueled the feminist movement over the past two hundred years–and explores how women today are looking to feminism for new approaches to issues of work, family, sexuality, and creativity.

Drawing examples from a variety of countries and cultures, from the past and the present, this inspiring narrative will be required reading for anyone who wishes to understand the role women play in the world. Searching in its analysis and global in its perspective, No Turning Back will stand as a defining text in one of the most important social movements of all time.

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Review:

In the preface to her engaging narrative history of feminism, No Turning Back, Estelle Freedman thanks a woman we should all thank, someone who asked her to recommend one book that best presented feminist scholarship to date. Realizing that her only suggestions would require the woman to read extensively across a range of disciplines, Freedman set out to provide that book herself. The result is an expansive but eminently readable history of feminism, its political roots and objectives, and the case for its centrality to the future of women.

While displaying an in-depth knowledge of her field in discussing women's rights, work, and the more recent history of women's political strategies, Freedman also demonstrates a willingness to engage in critical thinking beyond her own sphere and range; she explores subjects ranging from the development of labor and social roles across centuries and cultures to the ways in which race, class, and other social hierarchies inform and define different "feminisms." Acknowledging that her book does not "tell a single, unified history of revolutionary triumph," Freedman examines issues related to politics, economics, race, relationships, health, sexuality, and violence within the context of feminist history. Though it could have been a dry polemic, No Turning Back is, instead, an enthusiastic look at how and why feminist ideas have remained a part of the political landscape since their emergence. Freedman not only recognizes the complex processes of adaptation and redefinition that feminism has undergone, but proposes that this malleability is what has enabled the movement to withstand the test of time. For an obviously impassioned (but still well-reasoned and solidly supported) presentation of the story thus far, Freedman's answer to this book's instigator should now be an easy one. --S. Ketchum

From the Back Cover:

“AN ASTONISHING FEAT, a comprehensive synthesis of a sprawling and often contradictory body of thought and activism.”
–San Francisco Examiner

“A TOUR DE FORCE . . . THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT BOOK.”
–CATHARINE R. STIMPSON
University Professor
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science
New York University

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