Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

BookBrowse Reviews The Woman's Hour by Elaine Weiss

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Woman's Hour

The Great Fight to Win the Vote

by Elaine Weiss

The Woman's Hour by Elaine Weiss X
The Woman's Hour by Elaine Weiss
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2018, 416 pages

    Mar 2019, 416 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book



This nail-biting account narrates the history of the campaign to get the last state to ratify the 19th amendment, granting women the right to vote.

Many United States citizens take the right to vote for granted, so much so, in fact, that less than 60% of the eligible population cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election. Voting rights continues to be a hot-button issue today and has been so for a while. Women, for example, weren't permitted to take part in the democratic process until the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on August 18, 1920. The Amendment states: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Elaine Weiss's excellent account of the fight for female suffrage, The Woman's Hour, recounts the furious political battle that was waged in Tennessee (the 36th state to pass the act and last state needed for ratification) in the weeks leading up to this pivotal moment in history.

We now, nearly 100 years on, know that the Nineteenth Amendment did ultimately pass, but Weiss retains an element of suspense in her narrative. She keeps readers on the edge of their seats as she outlines how very close the amendment came to being defeated. Southern states almost universally rejected it or refused to bring it to a vote in state legislatures, and passage in Tennessee hung by a thread.

Between chapters taking place in the summer of 1920, the author seamlessly inserts narrative about the roots of the suffrage movement (see Beyond the Book). It took 70 years of political debate and maneuvering before women were allowed to vote, and those who first raised the issue such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton did not live to see the amendment's passage. Although the Nineteenth Amendment was introduced in Congress in 1878 it wasn't sent to the states for ratification for another forty years.

The author discusses the many different "political, corporate and ideological adversaries intent upon stopping the Nineteenth Amendment"—including the powerful Southern Women's League for the Rejection of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment who felt it "mocked the plan of the Creator, undermined women's purity and the noble chivalry of men, and threatened the home and family."

Weiss also points out the racial element to the debate: Giving white women the right to vote also meant giving it to black women, a concept which many in the South found abhorrent. Even infighting between the two strongest pro-suffrage women's groups threatened passage, with men using the disagreements as evidence women were ill-suited to public debate. While all this information could very well have been dry, Weiss writes about events so vividly that the book seems more like a political thriller than history.

I particularly enjoyed the way Weiss placed the culminating vote in historical context, clearly outlining the political and social factors that made the time right to advance the amendment, but also made its passage questionable. For example, women's participation in World War I had many rethinking their perceptions of female capabilities; on the other hand, textile manufacturers didn't want women to have a say in government out of fear they'd help enact child labor laws, thereby impacting their profits.

Weiss's writing is compelling and her subject inspiring. In spite of the fact that the culmination of these events took place nearly a century ago, they continue to be relevant today. As the author states, "[T]he story's compelling themes—power and political will, race and gender equality, states' rights and voting rights, and corporate influence in politics—remain urgent, present-day concerns." I highly recommend The Woman's Hour to anyone with an interest in history. Book groups in particular will find much to discuss within its pages.

Reviewed by Kim Kovacs

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in March 2018, and has been updated for the March 2019 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The League of Women Voters


Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Woman's Hour, try these:

  • The Man Who Hated Women jacket

    The Man Who Hated Women

    by Amy Sohn

    Published 2022

    About this book

    More by this author

    The New York Times–bestselling author Amy Sohn presents a narrative history of Anthony Comstock, anti-vice activist and U.S. Postal Inspector, and the remarkable women who opposed his war on women's rights at the turn of the twentieth century.

  • The Doctors Blackwell jacket

    The Doctors Blackwell

    by Janice P. Nimura

    Published 2022

    About this book

    Elizabeth Blackwell believed from an early age that she was destined for a mission beyond the scope of "ordinary" womanhood.

We have 10 read-alikes for The Woman's Hour, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Becoming Madam Secretary
    Becoming Madam Secretary
    by Stephanie Dray
    Our First Impressions reviewers enjoyed reading about Frances Perkins, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine CapĂł Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...
  • Book Jacket: The Painter's Daughters
    The Painter's Daughters
    by Emily Howes
    Peggy and Molly Gainsborough are sisters and best friends, living an idyllic life in 18th-century ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
A Great Country
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
A novel exploring the ties and fractures of a close-knit Indian-American family in the aftermath of a violent encounter with the police.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

Who Said...

If there is anything more dangerous to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!


Solve this clue:

S B the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.