Rowbotham, in this sequal to Women, Resistance and Revolution (1973), sees women as a revolutionary force in embryo from the 17th century to the present. A very gutsy New Left Marxist who writes in an accessible, popular idiom -- Rowbotham is a product of the angry English cultural climate of the early 1960's. Economically oriented and class conscious, she understands that for centuries working-class women had nothing in common with the ladies of the upper classes. Their roles in economic production placed them, as it were, on opposite sides of the barricades; militant sisterhood was impossible. And Rowbotham is consistently unwilling to subordinate the female ""collective experience"" to the stories of flamboyant individual heroines, whether George Sand or Mrs. Pankhurst. Moreover, she knows, as too many women's liberationists do not, that the movement didn't begin with Kate Millett and Betty Friedan -- or even with Susan B. Anthony; nor has the position of women been continuously, if slowly, improving -- in the 17th century there were some exclusive women's trades, legally protected against male competition. By the 19th century a real regression had occurred in the way women were perceived and treated by men. An absolutely involving book -- full of particulars, historically and analytically challenging in a way most books on ""the women's question"" are not.