4 out of 4 stars
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Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote by Susan Zimet is a celebration of the courageous leaders of the suffrage movement. Less than one hundred years ago and after seventy years of American women fighting for the right to vote, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1920, passing by a one-vote margin. Zimet documents historical events by championing the women leading the cause, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Alice Paul, and Lucy Burns.
The book is exceptionally edited and is enhanced by a collection of historic photographs. Zimet's writing is informative and easy to understand. Although the 176-page book is classified in the YA genre, it possesses a wealth of information relevant to readers as young as ten and older. I can relate to Zimet's experience when she states that "the struggle for suffrage wasn't covered when I was in school." She shines a light on a portion of history that is often overlooked. Zimet chronicles the historical events and challenges these courageous women faced, and she keeps the story engaging by including personal stories about their friendships, alliances, and conflicts. I also enjoyed the interesting tidbits she shared. For example, among many other facts, I learned the origin of "bloomers," the identity of Elizabeth Cody Stanton's mentor, and the first married woman who kept her name. In case you are wondering, Zimet also explains the significance of the rose in the title and how it relates to the suffrage movement.
I especially liked the portions titled "Know Your Radicals" and "Putting It In Perspective." In these boxed segments, Zimet respectively highlights specific women and explains the historical relevance of certain issues. For instance, "Know Your Radicals: Abigail Adams" described the wife of the man who became the second president of the United States as "no typical politician's wife." Abigail's letters to her husband demonstrated that Adams sought her advice and considered her his equal intellectually during a time in history when women were practically viewed as their husbands’ property. In "Putting It In Perspective: Quakers," Zimet explained that Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott were not only key leaders of the suffrage movement but were also Quakers. She then addresses the question: "But what are Quakers and why were so many of them involved in the fight to get women the vote?"
I honestly can't name anything I dislike about this historical YA gem. In addition to educating readers about suffragism, Zimet does an excellent job of describing how the cause grew out of the abolition movement. While both causes were inspired by the need for justice, the two weren't always aligned. Zimet explained the political issues that sometimes divided them as well as racism in the woman's movement.
It is my pleasure to rate Roses and Radicals four out of four stars. I recommend the educational and inspiring read to those ages ten and older interested in learning about the suffrage movement and the progression of women's rights. The book contains no profanity.
Roses and Radicals
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