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When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present    by Gail Collins order for
When Everything Changed
by Gail Collins
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

When Everything Changed - The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present - could be the story of my life. In 1960, I was a young housewife, with three children and a hysterectomy. My husband had his job and I had mine - to stay at home and raise the kids, keep the house, run the errands, cook the meals, and not complain when he came home late for dinner. He was working hard for me and the kids, right? Sure, he was.

While he moved up in the world, I stayed in the same rut. And was starting to hate it. I stuck it out, though. The women's movement came into being and I didn't see how it would help me in my life. But I cheered on the women who worked so hard to make a difference. I railed when my mother retired and the very young man who replaced her, after she trained him, was granted a salary equal to hers after she had worked for the company for many years.

Women with more moxy than I have ever possessed got out there and rallied, marched, and spoke for women's rights. After all, it had not been that many years, some of them humiliating, since women won the right to vote, but they won. Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinham, Rosa Parks, Phyllis Schlafly, and many more too numerous to mention came along and made their mark for women. Again, I cheered them on but did nothing more than volunteer at various non-profits. I'm not a fighter, but thank heavens these women and thousands more like them were fighters and made life a little bit easier for my daughters and granddaughters. Not a breeze, but a little easier. I remember one of my daughters, studying to become a chef in the 70s, stating that her male teaching chefs (there were no women teaching) ignored the women in the class, saying the only great chefs were men and always would be. I took note, though, that Julia Child was invited to speak at her commencement!

This wonderful book has too much rich history to minimalize in a review. Every woman in the U.S. should have a copy to read and understand just how we as women are valued - and to appreciate the accomplishments achieved by so very many unnamed women, as well as by the headline makers. I, for one, want to thank all these heroes for what they have done not only for me, but also for a country full of women who needed to understand their own worth.

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