When Everything Changed is a wonderful short-course to get you up to speed on the history and personalities of feminism since the 1960s. A Strange Stirring is a modern introduction to The Feminine Mystique, a book many of us believe we read or admit we should but for some reason never have (I own a copy). In different ways, Collins and Coontz paint portraits of the strong, courageous, and intelligent women. Collins has written a full yet concise primer that explores the triumphs and continued challenges for women in America from the 1960s through 2008. She weaves together a compelling narrative through the inclusion of interviews. Coontz, by contrast, attempts to show how The Feminine Mystique broke through the mindset that was frustrating the perfectly unhappy white middle class American women at a time when they felt most alone. While I have criticism of Coontz’s text, she has done a commendable job in trying to show how Friedan changed the landscape through her writing of an approachable small volume. It is important, however, to remember the cultural landscape in which The Feminine Mystique was written. I recommend the review, Quiet Desperation to better understand the issues.
I recommend both books and am still wondering when I’ll read my copy of The Feminine Mystique.
When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present
by Gale Collins
A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s
by Stephanie Coontz