Susan B. Anthony was among the earliest proponents of women’s rights and devoted most of her life to the cause.
In an in-depth biography of this important historical figure, Kanefield relies heavily on primary-source materials, especially Anthony’s own revealing words. Born to a Quaker father and a mother who refused to join the sect, Anthony was encouraged in childhood to be strong-willed. Once she became involved in furthering women’s very limited rights, she’d need every bit of that will, often speaking before hostile crowds at a time when women were expected to remain within their own sphere, managing a household and raising children. Gaining women the right to vote was always the ultimate goal, but Anthony also campaigned for married women to be able to own property and to leave abusive husbands. In her lifetime she saw remarkable advances in women’s rights although she died before the movement achieved its final goal. Anthony presciently predicted that one day women would be unaware that they hadn’t always had freedom and rights. “They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women of the past,” an unfortunate ignorance that this biography helps correct. The excellent backmatter includes notes, a timeline, excerpts from Anthony’s writing, a bibliography, and an index (the last not seen).
A fine biography, both enlightening and entertaining, on a critical topic. (Biography. 11-16)