Close observers, great traders, and kissing cousins though Canadians and Americans are, we have surprisingly little formal comparative study of our institutions. Canadians sometimes acknowledge the role the U.S. civil rights movement played in influencing us but seldom examine the major differences in historical and political conditions under which changes occurred. U.S. attention to Canadian institutions is desultory for the most part. The contemporary women's movement is a good example.

In the spring of 1989, the Centre for American Studies and the Centre for Women's Studies and Feminist Research at the University of Western Ontario held a conference focusing on their common interests. This book contains 21 contributions of women scholars to that conference, among them six from the United States.

Conference proceedings are risky ventures for a publisher. Contributions are often uneven; authors use obscure theories, long words and even longer sentences. Such books don't sell.

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This one should. For anyone who has wondered about the major issues in the feminist debates over violence, the economy, racism, recent history, the Quebec viewpoint and reproductive rights, this is provocative and rewarding reading. The editors have done an excellent job of letting authors speak in their own, sometimes angry, voices.

For example, Monique Begin, who was executive secretary and Director of Research to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women established in 1967. Her essay provides an insider's view of the commission and on the shortcomings of that process. The commission's report in December 1970 spurred on the fledgling new women's movement in many ways: Status of women groups were founded in several provinces to press for the implementation of the recommendations of the commission at the provincial level while the founding meeting of the National Action Committee (NAC) was held in April, 1972.

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