Monday, May 15, 2017

Motor Girls: How women took the wheel and drove boldly into the twentieth century by Sue Macy

Macy follows up her history of women and bicycles, Wheels of Change, with a new advance in women's liberation - the motor car!

The story opens with an introduction from Danica Patrick and Sue Macy, talking about their own experiences as drivers and women. Then the saga of automobiles begins, starting with the first race for motor cars in 1895 (which did not end well). Macy talks about the development of the automobile and the changes it had on women's rights and place in the world from the first electric cars advertised to women to their complete immersion in the driving world in World War II. She addresses early female racers, who were later barred from tracks in Europe and the USA, and the role the automobile played in female suffrage.

Throughout the book there are quotations from figures of the day, both for and against women drivers. There are selections from newspapers, accounts from female drivers of their experiences, and timelines and facts showing additional context for the main narrative. There are also copious photographs and graphics. An epilogue talks about how far women have come in the automobile - and how far they still have to go. Additional information in the back includes a bibliography of silent films featuring female drivers, additional facts, resources, websites, and museums, sources and credits.

Verdict: I was skeptical about the child appeal of Wheels of Change, but this is sure to grab the attention of kids who now accept cars as part of every day life and will willingly plunge into a very different world. Macy's writing is brisk and interesting and the plethora of additional facts will hold readers' attention to the end of the book. Recommended.

ISBN: 9781426326974; Published 2017 by National Geographic; Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to the library

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