When Hahn considers the social position occupied by the American ""lady"" of another age, ""the image of a chamberpot on a pedestal comes vividly to mind."" She quotes Elizabeth Cady Stanton on her status before the law: ""marriage makes the husband and wife one person, and that person is the husband."" This highly readable and entertaining popular history of the feminine ideal in America begins with the letters and diaries of foreign visitors such as de Toqueville and Mrs. Trollope, and continues with the books American women read (primarily Gothic novels and sentimental verse), and the lives of the women themselves, from Mistress Ann Hopkins -- who went insane, according to Governor John Winthrop, as a result of too much reading and writing -- to Betty Friedan, Hahn's obvious choice over Millett, Greer, et al. for guiding feminist light. There are short takes of Mary Wollstonecraft, Fanny Wright, Margaret Fuller, Lucretia Mott, Amelia Bloomer, Susan Anthony, Victoria Woodhull, Jane Addams, Margaret Sanger, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc. Hahn's good humor lapses for a moment when she recalls accompanying a friend to an illegal abortionist in the '30's. Overheating the voice of the doctor's husband, the supine girl opened her eyes and said with venom, ""There's one of 'em."" Otherwise, the hoopla surrounding the cultural eccentricity of feminism is as amusing as an old-time minstrel show.