In this controversially timely and objective work of social history, Sinclair traces the American myths of femininity from colonial times to the present, concentrating the better part (and the best part) of the work on the suffragettes-- their divergent personalities, the forces against which they had to contend, the causes with which they were allied. There is an extensive and fascinating consideration throughout of the consanguinity of certain reform movements with the Women's Rights fight -- i.e. Abolitionism, temperance, birth control, Unionism, World Peace-and The Better Half will undoubtedly be most seriously considered for its comparisons of the battle waged for the American woman with that waged for the American Negro. The publisher will probably attempt to sell Sinclair's book on the heels of The Feminine Mystique and The Second Sex. But it is with contemporary issues that this social history deals least satisfactorily. In his last chapters -- those about the new-Victorians, the malaise of the modern woman, the substitution of Freudian dogma for religious canon buttressed by the mass circulation magazines --Lewis Sinclair becomes social critic instead of social historian and lapses into undocumented generalities. Most of it, however, is insightful, thorough, and well- done.