The bestselling author of The Road from Coorain presents an extraordinarily powerful anthology of the autobiographical writings of 25 women, literary predecessors and contemporaries that include Jane Addams, Zora Neale Hurst, Harriet Jacobs, Ellen Glasgow, Maya Angelou, Sara Josephine Baker, Margaret Mead, Gloria Steinem, and Maxine Hong Kingston.
The autobiographies in this collection are by women of extraordinary achievement--some well known, some neglected through the generations--who overcame daunting obstacles to pursue their individual destinies in an often hostile, changing America. The narratives, chosen and edited by historian Conway, a former president of Smith College, are grouped into the areas of freedom-fighting, science, arts and letters, and social reform. Among the women relaying their encounters with discrimination are Marian Anderson, preeminent black contralto, who was celebrated in Europe but barred from appearing at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., and Margaret Mead, the renowned anthropologist, who refused a ``safe'' field assignment and forged her own way in Samoa. Many, like writer Zora Neale Hurston, emerged from broken or impoverished families to pursue an education and find a way to support themselves and their families. The strong, clear voices of the trailblazers found in this exemplary anthology reveal a sheer delight in excellence, adventure, and intellectual challenge. Essential for public and academic libraries.-- Amy Boaz , ``Library Journal''