Holy history books, Bat
The book is divided into nine chapters both chronologically and thematically. 1770-1800 is "A Revolutionary Generation" and naturally focuses on what was happening in women's lives before and during the American Revolution. 1945-1963 is titled "Security at Last?" looking at the relative safety and comfort Americans felt between WWII and the Vietnam war. The chapters are then further divided into sections like "Beauty" (covering fashions of the time), "Education" (what sort of education were different women receiving) and "Paid Work" (proving that even when women were "supposed" to stay at home as wives as mothers, that was only practical for a small percentage of the population at any given time).
Every page is simply overflowing with facts and pictures, with sidebars and different fonts chosen to set off important mini-biographies or pull out quotations. In some places, I actually felt like maybe we were getting a bit too much information for this to truly be helpful in a real history class situation. For example, at least in all of the history books I ever read, most of the books had a very broad narrative and reserved in-depth looks at any one topic for sidebars or specially marked pages. You didn't learn the names of individuals unless they were historically important (presidents, inventors, etc). In Women Making America, it feels like every tidbit of information is followed up with a personal anecdote from another woman's life, leading to a feeling of information overload. Very rarely does a woman appear in more than one section, making it impossible to keep everyone straight. Women's studies courses and texts often emphasize using individual stories as data, because women haven't historically been subjects of study, but here we find the downfall of that method: too many individual stories just get confusing when you can't dedicate enough space to make each story truly memorable.
If you're going to use this in a classroom, or are looking for another source for female points of view in history lessons, I highly recommend you also check out Women's Letters (do yourself a favor and get the paperback version I see they have out now - the hardback version is a brick). Women's Letters gives a real in-depth look at what everyday life was like for women throughout American history, through the letters they wrote. It's an endlessly fascinating book, and as I was reading Women Making America I kept finding myself wanting to revisit the letters in Women's Letters to spend more time on various subjects. (Haha, I always knew all of my education classes would come in handy someday. Who would have thought it would have been on my blog though?).
Women Making America is definitely impressive for its breadth and depth, and is certainly worth a look, but I think because it tries to cover so much within the confines of a history book template, some of it falls flat.