The Woman's Hour

The Great Fight to Win the Vote
Narrated by: Elaine Weiss, Tavia Gilbert
Length: 16 hrs and 28 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (234 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"Both a page-turning drama and an inspiration for every reader." (Hillary Rodham Clinton)

Soon to Be a major television event

The nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history: the ratification of the constitutional amendment that granted women the right to vote.

"With a skill reminiscent of Robert Caro, [Weiss] turns the potentially dry stuff of legislative give-and-take into a drama of courage and cowardice." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Weiss is a clear and genial guide with an ear for telling language... She also shows a superb sense of detail, and it's the deliciousness of her details that suggests certain individuals warrant entire novels of their own... Weiss's thoroughness is one of the book's great strengths. So vividly had she depicted events that by the climactic vote (spoiler alert: The amendment was ratified!), I got goose bumps." (Curtis Sittenfeld, The New York Times Book Review)

Nashville, August 1920. Thirty-five states have ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, 12 have rejected or refused to vote, and one last state is needed. It all comes down to Tennessee, the moment of truth for the suffragists, after a seven-decade crusade. The opposing forces include politicians with careers at stake, liquor companies, railroad magnates, and a lot of racists who don't want black women voting. And then there are the "Antis" - women who oppose their own enfranchisement, fearing suffrage will bring about the moral collapse of the nation. They all converge in a boiling hot summer for a vicious face-off replete with dirty tricks, betrayals and bribes, bigotry, Jack Daniel's, and the Bible.

Following a handful of remarkable women who led their respective forces into battle, along with appearances by Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Frederick Douglass, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Woman's Hour is an inspiring story of activists winning their own freedom in one of the last campaigns forged in the shadow of the Civil War, and the beginning of the great 20th-century battles for civil rights.

©2018 Elaine Weiss (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Anyone interested in the history of our country's ongoing fight to put its founding values into practice - as well as those seeking the roots of current political fault lines - would be well-served by picking up The Woman's Hour." (Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the number-one New York Times best seller Hidden Figures)

What listeners say about The Woman's Hour

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The Final Battle that Won the Vote for Women

It took 71 years and generations of women (and some men) to gain the vote for women in the U.S. through ratification of the 19th amendment to the Constitution—from the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, where the convention-approved Declaration of Sentiments first put the issue in the political arena, until 1920, when a constitutional amendment finally gained ratification by the states. While today it might seem inconceivable that women could be prevented from voting, passage of the amendment was not a sure thing in 1920 and the reasons become clear to us through the author’s telling. Many of the conditions surrounding the ratification echo in today’s politics. In 1920, Warren Harding was elected with a slogan “America First”. Fear of immigrants was extremely high leading to changes in the law that extremely limited immigration into the U.S. Opponents of women’s suffrage used racism, states’ rights and corporate money to fight it. In many ways, this was a fight between urban America and rural America. Elected officials were much more concerned on how it would impact their reelection than whether it was the right thing to do. Just like today, limiting the voters for your opponents was a way to remain in power or, for corporations, keep your supporters in power. Focusing on the climax of the fight, the vote by the Tennesee legislature to make the state the 36th state and last state needed to ratify the amendment passed by Congress the previous year, the book looks back over the previous 71 years to explain the context of the conflict in Tennessee’s capital. The battle in Nashville overflowed with both political and personal drama. All arguments from the past in favor and against the women’s vote were used and every political lever that could be pulled was pulled by both sides. At the end, it came down to a change in heart by one Tennessee legislator after a letter from his mother. This is a compelling story in which the author brings the participants to life and allows the reader to reflect on the lessons for today’s political battles. It was the hard work and persistence of women in fighting for the right cause that carried the day over the fear and selfishness of their opponents.

7 people found this helpful

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Good book, poor choice of reader

The book itself is good, but I had to stop listening because the over-cutesy, little-girl delivery is a poor match for this book. Direct quotes from women's speeches are read in a mincing, exaggerated way that makes those women sound silly. It's ironic, in view of the topic, that women are still being rewarded for sounding like this.

6 people found this helpful

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Women take our right to vote much too casually.

Men and women in the 21st century must remember these rights were fought for by both courageous women and men.

4 people found this helpful

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  • 08-08-18

A must read for contemporary politics

As a student of suffrage, and a 21st Century Feminist, I wholeheartedly recommend this history of the final push for ratification of the 19th amendment, focusing on the Battle in Tennessee to EVERYONE!! It is compelling, fast-paced and reads more like a thriller. For those disappointed in the 2016 election, this is a must read. Take heart. Persist. Failure is impossible. I loved this book.

3 people found this helpful

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Required listening

This book should be required reading/listening in all civics classes (what ones are left). Fantastic and illuminating story.

3 people found this helpful

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Riveting!

As divided as our country is now, “The Woman’s Hour” shows us how divisive women’s suffrage was leading up to the passage of the 19th amendment! “America First” was the campaign slogan of Warren Harding’s presidential campaign which illustrates one more parallel with modern times. Weiss did a masterful job of weaving so many stories together to make the reader sit at the edge of his or her seat in anticipation of the Tennessee vote!

2 people found this helpful

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History repeats itself

Amazing how the events of the beginning of the 1900s are still politically happening today.

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Entertaining and Educational

I am embarrassed to admit that I know very little about the fight for the 19th amendment. This book provides in depth details about the ratification in Tennessee but also the history of the movement and parallels with our country today.

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Brilliant and and relevant!

This is a must read! I loved the audio, but may go back and buy the hard copy!

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Disappointing choice of narrators

This book deserved a narrator with gravitas, but instead we were given someone with a voice and presentation style that I could best describe as perky. I’ll read the book, but I can’t continue to listen. What a shame.

1 person found this helpful