In this book, historian Ruth Rosen gives us a comprehensive survey of recent struggles for women’s rights that weaves together the personal and the political. She is particularly adept at showing how the women’s movement grew out of divisions… in the other movements of the 60s, sensitively chronicles ongoing disagreements within the movement, and in extensive interviews shares what the movement meant and felt like for some of its participants.
In The World Split Open she also reveals little-seen documentation of FBI surveillance of women activists in the 70s. It is a measure of her optimism that she views the backlash of the 90s as proof of just how much the movement had accomplished. Also, instead of being distraught by her young students’ incomplete understanding of the movement, she is “elated” that the change is so fundamental it can almost be taken for granted. Yet she cautions against a retreat from the political and toward the purely personal she sees in the rise of what she terms “consumer feminism” and “therapeutic feminism.” If you are into books on social issues, particularly related to the history of and current multifaceted views on feminism, you’ll appreciate Rosen’s expert take.