This passionate and inspiring book by the New York Times bestselling author of The Hello Girls shows us that the quest for women’s rights is deeply entwined with the founding story of the United States.
When America became a nation, a woman had no legal existence beyond her husband. If he abused her, she couldn’t leave without abandoning her children. Abigail Adams tried to change this, reminding her husband John to “remember the ladies” when he wrote the Constitution. He simply laughed—and women have been fighting for their rights ever since.
Fearless Women tells the story of women who dared to take destiny into their own hands. They were feminists and antifeminists, activists and homemakers, victims of abuse and pathbreaking professionals. Inspired by the nation’s ideals and fueled by an unshakeable sense of right and wrong, they wouldn’t take no for an answer. In time, they carried the country with them.
The first right they won was the right to learn. Later, impassioned teachers like Angelina Grimké and Susan B. Anthony campaigned for the right to speak in public, lobby the government, and own property. Some were passionate abolitionists. Others fought just to protect their own children.
Many of these women devoted their lives to the cause—some are famous—but most pressed their demands far from the spotlight, insisting on their right to vote, sit on a jury, control the timing of their pregnancies, enjoy equal partnerships, or earn a living. At every step, they faced fierce opposition. Elizabeth Cobbs gives voice to fearless women on both sides of the aisle, most of whom considered themselves patriots. Rich and poor, from all backgrounds and regions, they show that the women’s movement has never been an exclusive club.
The well-researched stories Cobbs tells are at once harrowing and exhilarating…Cobbs’s subjects [are] women who, having taken the worst their country had to offer, gave in return their energy and determination to drive its most progressive agendas.
Fearless Women is so well-written, so well researched, and so engaging that you will find it of real value even as it tells some stories you thought you already knew…We should all welcome the hope that it bestows.
An excellent and well-researched deep dive into the lives of women who insisted that they be considered an integral part of the American experience…This is an exciting and compelling read.
Cobbs’s history reclaims feminism as a national social movement that has been pronounced un-American, exclusionary, and on the radical fringe…The breadth of this history is impressive and the depth of the research in terms of plumbing both published and manuscript sources for details about these women’s lives and the campaigns they waged, commands our scholarly attention and praise.
Cobbs’s novelistic skills shine as she dramatizes policy debates and draws on personal memoirs and other sources to bring each woman to life…Feminists will savor the depth and intimacy of this optimistic survey.
The right to compete, learn, lobby, vote, earn equal pay, obtain equal legal protection, and be assured of physical safety are among the issues the author examines through the lives of her brave protagonists. A fresh, well-researched perspective on women’s history.
Unflinching…Delivering a timeless message of equality, Fearless Women is wide-ranging in its biographical surveys of the women who shaped the US’s struggle for women’s rights since her founding.
Who are the feminist patriots and where did they come from? Covering US history since 1776, this book tackles women’s drive for equality, or at least access, to sixteen different ‘rights’ starting with education and ending with physical safety.
In the skillful hands of Elizabeth Cobbs, intrepid women of diverse backgrounds come alive on the page as they struggle to defend their own honor, care for their families, and fight for equality, autonomy, and dignity in a nation that has long denied them. Fearless Women is a gripping panoramic history that pairs ingenious excavation with enlightening explanation to relight the fire of feminist political identity at the very moment when we need it most.
Feminism has given Americans a common language, Elizabeth Cobbs argues in this brilliant and inspiring book, making her case through sixteen paired biographies of diverse, carefully selected female subjects, both well-known (Mary Church Terrell, Frances Perkins, Phyllis Schlafly) and unknown (Abigail Bailey, Ann Marie Riebe, Yvonne Swan). A remarkable and gripping achievement.
What a great read! In unfailingly crackling prose, Cobbs freshly retells some familiar stories and colorfully excavates many new ones. Rich, consistently compelling, and often moving in detail, Fearless Women brilliantly illuminates women’s long struggle for equality in America, while making a robust case for the centrality of that struggle in the master narrative of American history. A magnificent achievement.
- 480 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.