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Review: The New York Times celebrates women in power

JENNIFER FORKER
This cover image released by Abrams shows "The Women of the 116th Congress: Portraits of Power," by Elizabeth D. Herman and Celeste Sloman. (Abrams via AP)

"The Women of the 116th Congress: Portraits of Power," Abrams, by The New York Times, foreword by Roxane Gay, portraits by Elizabeth D. Herman and Celeste Sloman

The 2018 midterm elections gave the United States a staggering 116th Congress, important in part for the number of women who assumed office and for the diversity among those women. The first openly gay member of the Senate. The first two Muslim women elected to Congress. The first two Native American congresswomen. The youngest woman elected to Congress. The firsts go on, and this attractive book, "The Women of the 116th Congress: Portraits of Power" by The New York Times, documents all of them.

It is a reverential compendium that begins with a forward by author Roxane Gay that lays out many of the firsts and speaks to the importance of this Congress: "The people who have been elected to represent us are, finally, starting to more accurately reflect the American people. This matters because when a diverse range of people serve in Congress, they start to address the issues the range of Americans are facing."

Women now make up a quarter of those holding Congressional seats — 106 seats in the House and 25 in the Senate. As more women take office, power shifts occur.

Photographer Elizabeth D. Herman addresses this change and the effect it may have on the country: "The more people start to associate women with power ... the more it will be seen as the norm, rather than the exception."

Herman and photographer Celeste Sloman collaborated with photo editors Marisa Schwartz Taylor and Beth Flynn of The New York Times. Besides taking a place of honor in these pages, each portrait is included in a removable poster that's included.

Of note are the handful of portraits that juxtapose a current female legislator next to a former U.S. president: Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids, who is Native American and openly gay, is featured with Thomas Jefferson. Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood, the youngest black woman to serve in Congress, is shown next to Abraham Lincoln.

This hardcover book captures the scale of these collective women's achievement, and it puts a feminine face on power.