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Other titles in the From Eve to Dawn series:
From Eve to Dawn: A History of Women (Volume IV: Origins)by Marilyn French and Margaret Atwood
Synopses & Reviews
Origins is the first of four volumes of a monumental, readable, and unprecedented history of women throughout the world. The internationally celebrated author of The Women's Room, Marilyn French, spent over fifteen years with a team of researchers and prominent historians examining women's lives and activities in civilizations and societies spanning the ages.
Beginning in prehistory, Origins moves on to examine women's lives in ancient Egypt, China, India, Peru, Mexico, Greece, and Rome. In her reconstruction of wars, laws, and other activities affecting both women and men, French also traces the worldviews underpinning them. In accessible writing for a broad readership, three chapters depict how women's relationship to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam changed for good and bad over the centuries.
"In her foreword to this first volume of a four-volume work, Atwood writes that women 'are not a footnote' to history, but rather 'the necessary center around which the wheel of power revolves.' That is the view that novelist and memoirist French (The Women's Room) satisfyingly supports. As in any survey, much of this volume reads schematically ('For 99 percent of hominid and human existence, people lived in egalitarian matricentry'), and like many historians, French has an agenda — but she backs up even her more controversial theories with an impressive accumulation of academically accepted historical, anthropological and sociological sources. French covers her material vividly as she discusses the formation of the gendered state in Peru, Egypt, Sumer and China and then surveys the differences between the formation of secular and religious states. The volume ends with a detailed analysis of the position of women in early Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and it's here that French's precise methodology really comes to life, though some will debate her interpretations. Written in concise, understated language, this is a significant addition to literature on women's studies and history." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Marilyn French] draws on a vast body of research and help from consultants in all sorts of fields, to open out areas that are rarely accessible." Guardian
"As a reference work it's invaluable: the bibliographies alone are worth the price. And as a warning about the appalling extremes of human behavior and male weirdness, it's indispensable." Margaret Atwood, The Times (London)
"Written in concise, understated language, this is a significant addition to literature on women's studies and history." Publisher's Weekly
Book News Annotation:
This is the first of French's four volumes, which could be considered as the missing half of standard human history textbooks, taking an eye to women's experiences beginning with prehistory and moving through early civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, Peru, India, Greece, and Rome, through the first millennium BCE. The text's language is non-technical and accessible to a wide readership. French discusses women as they related with and were treated in spiritual, institutional, social, political, and family life, among other forums, beginning with a chapter on parents in prehistoric Zaire and other sites. The final three chapters comprise brief histories of women in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam through the ages. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A readable guide to the beginnings of women's history, from the best-selling author Marilyn French.
In her powerful and bold writing style, best-selling author Marilyn French synthesizes women's history from our pre-historical roots through the rise of states across the globe to the onset of state-backed religions in this first of four readable volumes.
“[Marilyn French] draws on a vast body of research and help from consultants in all sorts of fields, to open out areas that are rarely accessible.”—Guardian
“As a reference work it’s invaluable: the bibliographies alone are worth the price. And as a warning about the appalling extremes of human behavior and male weirdness, it’s indispensable.”—Margaret Atwood, The Times (London)
In her powerful and bold writing style, best-selling author Marilyn French synthesizes women’s history from our pre-historical roots through the rise of states across the globe to the onset of state-backed religions in this first of four readable volumes.
About the Author
Marilyn French (1929- ) was born in New York. She received her PhD from Harvard and taught English at Hofstra, Harvard, and Holy Cross College. She is best known for her novels, The Women's Room and In the Name of Friendship, and her non-fiction works, including Beyond Power, The War against Women and her memoir, A Season in Hell.
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