Synopses & Reviews
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
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.
A readable guide to the beginnings of women's history, from the best-selling author Marilyn French.
“[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's views have always been unapologetically radical. Her work stresses that women's suppression is an integral function of the male-dominated global culture, both on the domestic and international front. She is best known for her first novel, the 21-million-copy bestseller The Women's Room, which is considered one of the most influential works of the modern feminist movement, and, more recently, its sequel, In the Name of Friendship. She spent fifteen years researching and writing her immensely readable four volume women's history series FROM EVE TO DAWN: A HISTORY OF WOMEN IN THE WORLD. Her other nonfiction works include Beyond Power: On Women Men, and Morals, The War against Women, and her memoir on her battle with esophageal cancer, A Season in Hell. She died in May 2009.