As long as there has been an America, the indomitable spirit of American women has shaped both the country's history and society. Regardless of the time and place these women were born each excelled in her respective field, making it easier for the next generation. This is what makes them heroines.
In American Heroines, Kay Bailey Hutchison presents female pioneers in fields as varied as government, business, education and healthcare, who overcame the resistance and prejudice of their times and accomplished things that no woman–and sometimes no man –– had done before. Hutchison, a pioneer in her own right, became the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the State of Texas.
Interspersed with the stories of America's historic female leaders are stories of today's women whose successes are clearly linked to those predecessors. Would Sally Ride have been given the chance to orbit the earth had Amelia Earhart not flown solo across the Atlantic Ocean fifty years before? Had Clara Barton not nursed wounded soldiers on Civil War battlefields, aid may not have reached the millions it did while the Red Cross was in the hands of women like Elizabeth Dole and Bernadine Healy. Had Oveta Culp Hobby not been appointed the first Secretary of the Department of Health and Education by President Eisenhower, the country may have been deprived of such leaders as Secretary of State Madeline Albright and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.
As a young girl, Senator Hutchison dreamed of an America where the qualifier "the first woman" had become obsolete. The profiles contained in American Heroines, illustrate how her dream is coming true, one courageous step at a time.
Texas senator Hutchison looks at pioneering women from the 19th century to the present in this compellingly themed but ungainly mix of social history, thumbnail biography and personal recollection. Beginning with a short but dense recounting of the life of Mary Austin Holley, whose 1833 book about Texas is credited with drawing new settlers to the area, Hutchison moves forward to consider other "Pioneers and Preservationists," most of whom will be of interest primarily to Texans. The collection becomes more appealing as Hutchison widens her focus. Her "Education for Everyone" chapter sees a discussion of the women's higher education advocate Emma Willard (1797 1870) followed by a brief interview with Lynne Cheney (on the most important trait for success: "Stick-to-it-iveness"). "A Woman's Art" highlights historical heroines Mary Cassatt, singer Marian Anderson and Latina perfomers like Dolores Del Rio, while "Public Lives, Public Service" praises Geraldine Ferraro and Sandra Day O'Connor as leaders of today. Other public figures Hutchison interviews include Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, Cokie Roberts and Barbara Walters, each offering morsels of personal experience and familiar but uplifting advice. It's Hutchison's personal vignettes that suffer in this arrangement, as she seems to insert them whenever there's an associative connection. Her story is certainly interesting enough to warrant more time. Photos.