cover image Divided Lives

Divided Lives

Rosalind Rosenberg. Hill & Wang, $22 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-374-52347-3

This social and political history surveys ably, if not too deeply, the lives of women ``divided between paid and domestic labor, and divided from one another.'' Rosenberg ( Beyond Separate Spheres: Intellectual Roots of Modern Feminism ) is no polemicist. She blends various strains of women's history--those that stress women's identity with or differences from men and the fundamental divisions of class, race and religion--into a larger perspective. With sketches of women from birth control advocate Margaret Sanger to civil rights and feminist activist Pauli Murray, Rosenberg skillfully advances the narrative, taking care not to focus just on the white middle class. While not ignoring institutional changes such as the fight for suffrage, Rosenberg also tracks social issues such as the advance of women in World War II and the debate over lesbianism in the women's movement. She concludes pessimistically that much remains to be done to lessen the domestic burdens on American women. But some comparative analysis with the experience of women elsewhere would have illuminated her study, as would reflection on the recent public debates about sexual harassment and rape. (June)