Reforming Women

From the swift emergence, a decade ago, of a serious new interest in women’s history, scholars have recognized in this field not only a subject of intrinsic fascination, but a constructive approach to numerous aspects of social and cultural history. Recent works in the history of the family, medicine, literature, …

Democratic Vistas

The Victim as Criminal and Artist: Literature from the American Prison

by H. Bruce Franklin
The most familiar tradition of literary criticism in America assigns the special features of our writing to the experience of abundance, individualism, and Adam’s release from complicity in past history. Professor Bruce Franklin’s new book challenges this tradition on all points, by concentrating exclusively on oppression in America and its …

A History of Endurance

Black Odyssey: The Afro-American Ordeal in Slavery

by Nathan Irvin Huggins
Saying what Nathan Huggins’s new book on the Afro-American experience is not may help to define what it is. It is not sociology, psychology, or anthropology, though there are significant insights gleaned from these disciplines, and large sections of the book read much like the more successful popular works in …

The Emergence of American Women

The Bonds of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835

by Nancy F. Cott

The Feminization of American Culture

by Ann Douglas
When life comes near to imitating art, bad art, then truth begins to sound excessive, and the writer who records life may easily become an excessive writer. This is one of the problems of Victorian letters. A check through the typically detailed “Contents” of many a fat volume of the …

American Women in Their Place

The Bonds of Womanhood: "Woman's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835

by Nancy F. Cott

The Feminization of American Culture

by Ann Douglas
The achieving female of a hundred years ago has presented problems as a model for her achieving feminist successors of our times. A fair assessment, for instance, of someone like Catharine Beecher, a front-running celebrant of the “cult of domesticity,” would be less galling if her contributions to women’s education …

An American Family


by Alex Haley
Roots is about lineage and blood, history and suffering, and the need to know about these things. The need-to-know is Alex Haley’s. Why and how the author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X has driven himself for a dozen years to find his own bloodlines, or one strain at least, …

Off the Plantation

Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South

by Ira Berlin

They Who Would Be Free: Blacks' Search for Freedom, 1830-1861

by Jane H. Pease and William H. Pease
As the crisp outline left when a cooky cutter has finished its business serves to remind us, it is occasionally possible to see the shape of things as well from the outside as from within. That plantation slavery was much more than a labor system most readers of American history …

What We Didn’t Know About Slavery

Neither Black Nor White: Slavery and Race Relations in Brazil and the United States

by Carl Degler

Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624-1713

by Richard S. Dunn
For six or eight generations writers have been pegging slavery up and down on a moral scale that buckles alarmingly with the temperature of the social issue that slavery entailed. So long as the peculiar institution was a contemporary reality the question was absolute. Was slavery a moral institution, or …