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The Woman's Hour

By: Elaine Weiss

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Imprint: Viking

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9780525429722

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On Sale: | Pages: 416

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The nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history: the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote. "Anyone interested in the history of our country's ongoing fight to put its founding values into practice--as well as those seeking the roots of current political fault lines--would be well-served by picking up The Woman's Hour." --Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hidden FiguresNashville, August 1920. Thirty-five states have ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, twelve have rejected or refused to vote, and one last state is needed. It all comes down to Tennessee, the moment of truth for the suffragists, after a seven-decade crusade. The opposing forces include politicians with careers at stake, liquor companies, railroad magnates, and a lot of racists who don't want black women voting. And then there are the "Antis"--women who oppose their own enfranchisement, fearing suffrage will bring about the moral collapse of the nation. They all converge in a boiling hot summer for a vicious face-off replete with dirty tricks, betrayals and bribes, bigotry, Jack Daniel's, and the Bible. Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, along with appearances by Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Frederick Douglass, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Woman's Hour is an inspiring story of activists winning their own freedom in one of the last campaigns forged in the shadow of the Civil War, and the beginning of the great twentieth-century battles for civil rights.
In “The Woman's Hour,” a gripping account of those fraught and steamy days in Nashville, Elaine Weiss delivers political history at its best. A Baltimore-based historian and journalist, she writes with verve and color that captures the feverish excitement of a moment when, whatever the outcome, every woman and man packed into Tennessee's imposing statehouse knew that history was about to be made. With a skill reminiscent of Robert Caro, she turns the potentially dry stuff of legislative give-and-take into a drama of courage and cowardice, showing the pain of compromise and the power of substantive debate in an age when rhetoric was still an art and political discourse still aimed to persuade.... Too long neglected by historians, the campaigners who swarmed Tennessee's statehouse have been splendidly served by Ms. Weiss's engrossing narrative.
—Wall Street Journal
Weiss is a clear and genial guide with an ear for telling language... She also shows a superb sense of detail, and it's the deliciousness of her details that suggests certain individuals warrant entire novels of their own.... Weiss's thoroughness is one of the book's great strengths. So vividly had she depicted events that by the climactic vote...I got goose bumps.
—New York Times
"The Woman's Hour" focuses on a few tense weeks in the summer of 1920. Thirty-five American states had ratified the 19th Amendment. Thirty-six "yes" votes were needed to make the amendment law, and now Tennessee's moment of decision was at hand with a vote scheduled for August.... Weiss wonderfully describes the drama in the Tennessee statehouse that day: crowds packed into the visitors' gallery, the Suffs draped in saffron, and the Antis wearing red flowers. When the vote finally came, a mother's letter and a last-minute defection were game changers so unexpected that for a few minutes history reads like outlandish fiction.
—Christian Science Monitor
Weiss' reportage clearly shows she did a huge amount of research, which enables her to add splashes of color to what could have easily become a snooze-worthy political-science tome. Bits about the special pin suffragettes who went to prison were awarded by their colleagues and the various main characters' prefight histories add wonderful dimension to this important tale. But much of the drama seeps out of the book, due to too many unnecessary details and chapters that bounce between themes and timelines.... And an explanatory list at the front of the book of important players and the similar-sounding organizations on both sides of the issue would have helped.
—USA Today
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