WOMEN: The National Geographic Image Collection, Introduction by Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief of National Geographic Magazine, 512 pp, RL: ALL AGES


WOMEN: The National Geographic Image Collection
Introduction by Susan Goldberg, 
Editor in Chief of National Geographic Magazine
Review Copy from National Geographic
With WOMEN, you can expect the superb photojournalism that National Geographic is known for. What is so special about this book, published in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of 19th Amendment, is the fact that this collection was created by women. From the introduction by Goldberg, the tenth editor of National Geographic magazine since its founding in 1888, and the first woman to hold this position (not to mention the foreword by Jean Case, the first woman elected Chairman of the Board of the National Geographic Society) the focus is clear: exploring the history, challenges and triumphs of women over 130 years and across 50 countries, as documented by National Geographic, while acknowledging the lack of equality for women in so much of the world through interviews and essays. Goldberg closes her introduction these pragmatic words:

Just as no single portrait in the Image Collection could represent the face of womanhood, no single comment in the interviews could summarize all women's strivings and hopes. But conservationist and entrepreneur Kris Tompkins may have come close, so let hers be the parting words before turning the page:

"The unequal role of women in so many societies goes back millennia, and sometimes I despair as to how this will ever right itself. I do believe in speaking up and holding your ground - sometimes at great cost - and not being silenced. It took thousands of years to get to this place, and it will take a long time to get better, more equitable cultures. Equal rights for women is a long-distance run, not a sprint."

WOMEN is not just history, it strives to "form the archive of tomorrow" by including interviews and recent portraits of two dozen accomplished women, most taken by National Geographic photographer Erika Larsen, from all walks of life, including #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke. It also features seventeen behind-the-scenes stories from famed female National Geographic photographer that add so much to the already powerful, moving images. I found myself experiencing intense emotions, and often tears, with every page turn. Divided into six themes - joy, beauty, love, wisdom, strength and hope, all these words at once could be used to describe every woman in this book. While it is hard not to approach this book with frustration and anger at how women have been discriminated against, denied, degraded and worse, it is impossible to read this book and not feel overwhelmed by the beauty, love, wisdom, strength, hope and joy that emanate from every woman in every image on every page. Share this book with every girl as early as possible to show her what true women look like and what real women do. Share this book with anyone who needs to be reminded, as Alex Morgan put it in her interview in WOMEN, "Don't be discouraged in your journey."

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