The history of a defiant movement to elect women.
In 1980, Malcolm, the great-granddaughter of a founder of IBM, looking for a way to put her inherited fortune to use for effective social change, founded the Windom Fund, which contributed to organizations focused on women’s issues and voter registration. Soon, though, noting the dearth of women in Congress, Malcolm decided to address that dire political need by funding the campaigns of progressive, pro-choice Democratic candidates. Along with a handful of friends, she established EMILY’s List, an acronym for “Early Money Is like Yeast”—because it makes dough rise. Its premise was simple: the group would write letters about women candidates to its members, urging financial contributions of $100. With the assistance of Vanity Fair contributing editor Unger (The Fall of the House of Bush, 2012, etc.), Malcolm chronicles the exhilarating rise of this “unique kind of PAC.” Its membership eventually grew to 3 million and exerted decisive influence in women’s political achievements: helping aspirants, such as Barbara Mikulski and Dianne Feinstein, win primaries; helping candidates under attack—the authors document a vicious campaign waged against Ann Richards in her bid for Texas governor; and following election results down to their nail-biting conclusions. Anita Hill’s testimony against Clarence Thomas, heard before an all-male committee, and exposure on 60 Minutes galvanized much support. As more women earned seats in Congress and state houses, the group decided, in addition to funding, “to build from scratch a full-service political operation…that involved recruiting a new generation of women candidates, training them and their staffs,” and guiding them in fundraising, dealing with the media, and fending off the inevitable attacks. With more than 110 Democratic women elected to the House and 19 to the Senate, the group still has a major goal: to see Hillary Clinton elected president in 2016.
An inspiring portrait of a gutsy activist who produced a transformation in the political landscape.