cover image No Stopping Us Now: A History of Older Women in America

No Stopping Us Now: A History of Older Women in America

Gail Collins. Little, Brown, $30 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-28654-1

This lively and well-researched compendium by New York Times columnist Collins (When Everything Changed) surveys older women’s social roles and achievements throughout American history. Working chronologically—starting with Martha Washington in the Colonial era and ending with the 90th birthday party for Muriel Fox, a cofounder of NOW—Collins juggles vignettes, longer portraits of both well-known and comparatively obscure black and white women, and tales of racism, sexism, and ageism. She writes of Gidget and Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the abolitionist Grimké sisters; of the Rev. Pauli Murray, civil rights leader, and Rep. Millicent Fenwick, the “pipesmoking grandmother of eight” who represented New Jersey in Congress for eight years. She follows some women—such as abolitionist and poet Lydia Maria Child and diplomat Eleanor Roosevelt—through several decades. Collins portrays Elizabeth Cady Stanton as a “canny strategist” for raising her children before embarking on activism, thereby ensuring her respectability; credits the success of the civil rights movement to its older women; and describes a time when male doctors thought sex was fatal for women over 50. She inserts significant data with a light touch and leavens the subject matter with her signature humorous tone. This enjoyable and informative historical survey will delight Collins’s fans and bring in some new ones. Agent: Alice Fried Martell, Martell Agency. (Oct.)