A history of the American West told for the first time through the pioneering women who used the challenges of migration and settlement as opportunities to advocate for their rights, and transformed the country in the process.
New Women in the Old West is really two books deftly stitched together. It is a brisk history of the galvanizing role played by Western women in the national struggle for suffrage. It is also a kind of group portrait of the independent, resourceful women who managed to forge places for themselves in a man’s world. Ms. Gallagher tells her story through a sometimes dizzying array of mini-biographies of dozens of women ... A testament to the depth of Ms. Gallagher’s research is the range of her cast of characters ... Ms. Gallagher has an eye for the telling detail ... a number of the women Ms. Gallagher profiles held prejudices that were commonplace in their day but are deplored in ours. She doesn’t shy away from discussion of their racist, anti-immigrant or anti-Catholic views, but neither does she let those views 'cancel' the women’s accomplishments ... The author’s interpretation of American history overall is another story. Ms. Gallagher largely buys into the left’s negative portrait of America’s past ... New Women in the Old West would be a better book if Ms. Gallagher hadn’t relied on the Howard Zinn version of American history. Otherwise, her chronicle is both informative and enjoyable to read.
This upbeat account abounds with brief stories of trailblazers ... At times, Gallagher casts her subjects in flat, modern terms, such as writing that one of them 'prioritized' or had 'skill sets'. Yet the stories mostly transcend occasional banalities ... A mostly engaging account of how the West was won for women from all walks of life.