New from author Elaine Weiss
“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 Elaine Weiss’s The Woman’s Hour.”
– Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hidden Figures
The nail-biting climax of one of the greatest political battles in American history; the fight to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women the right to vote.
Nashville, Summer 1920: Thirty-five states have ratified the 19th Amendment, twelve have rejected or refused to vote, and one last state is needed or the amendment might die. After a seven-decade crusade, it all comes down to Tennessee; it’s the moment of truth for the suffragists, and also for their antagonists, the “Antis.” The political freedom of half of the nation is at stake.
In the steamy corridors of Nashville’s statehouse and hotels, the enormous forces allied for and against woman’s suffrage make their last stand; and it gets wild. There are bribes and betrayals, bourbon guzzled and bibles thumped, racist rants and the Confederate battle flag waved in defiance of Federal intervention in states’ rights to determine who can – and more pointedly, who cannot – vote.
Following three remarkable women who led their respective forces into this definitive confrontation, The Woman’s Hour tells the story of American women’s long crusade to obtain that most basic right of democracy – the vote – and the forces of history, culture, and politics which made their quest so difficult. We meet the Suffs and the Antis, the politicians and the corporate lobbyists, the idealists and the racists – and, most surprisingly, the women who oppose enfranchising their own sex – as they converge upon Nashville for the final fight.
Unfolding in the midst of a bitter presidential campaign,The Woman’s Hour rings surprisingly modern themes, echoing the headlines of today: voting rights and voter suppression; women’s rights – and who decides what they are; inequality; corporate money in politics; culture wars. And racism. Because any story about the right to vote in America is ultimately about race.
Featuring a cast of colorful characters and historical figures – including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass and Woodrow Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Warren G. Harding – The Woman’s Hour reads like a political thriller, with women protagonists propelling the action, and the outcome uncertain until the very end.
It is an inspiring story of courageous and cunning grassroots activists winning their own freedom. They teach us profound and valuable lessons about the hard work it takes to bring change, and the ongoing need to strengthen our democracy.
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 Elaine Weiss’s The Woman’s Hour. By focusing in on the final battle in the war to win women the right to vote, told from the point of view of its foot soldiers, Weiss humanizes both the women working in favor of the amendment and those working against it, exposing all their convictions, tactics, and flaws. She never shies away from the complicating issue of race; the frequent conflict and occasional sabotage that occurred between women’s suffrage activists and the leaders of the nascent civil rights movement make for some of the most fascinating material in the book.
Margot Lee Shetterly
Imaginatively conceived and vividly written, The Woman’s Hour gives us a stirring history of women’s long journey to suffrage and to political influence. Making bold connection with race and class, Weiss’s splendid book is as much needed today as it was in 1940 when Eleanor Roosevelt noted that men hate women with power. As every victory since the Civil War and Reconstruction faces the wrecker, The Woman’s Hour is an inspiration in the continuing struggles for suffrage, and for race and gender justice, and for democracy.
Blanche Wiesen Cook
Writing with the verve this story deserves, Elaine Weiss brings to life the women who rallied in Nashville to get the nineteenth amendment ratified. From the gracious Carrie Chapman Catt to the radical Sue White, they were fearless in battle and elated in a victory that changed history. Three cheers for Weiss for this spirited and inspiring account.
Interview with Elaine in The New York Times
November 6, 2017 – Interview with Elaine Weiss by Alexandra S. Levine about women’s suffrage.
“All of these issues we’re dealing with now — voter suppression and voter rights and racial bigotry — they all come up in the fight for suffragists,” Ms. Weiss added. “It’s a lesson for today; it’s not just history.”