With Labor Day coming up in the US this seemed like a good time to finally pick this up after seeing this on a list a year or two ago. The book looks at the role of black women in the US work force from slavery to the more recent day (this was first published in 1986 and that's the version I read). From the fields to domestic to work to entering the workforce to wartime to the more "modern" era this looks at black women and how their roles changed, how they worked, etc.
It's a huge, ambitious work and I think a review on Goodreads nails it well in that maybe this was too much for one volume. The initial chapters that focused in the colonial times through the Civil War were really interesting (especially when given the lack of source material due to time, the inability to read/write, etc.). But the post-Civil War chapters just sort of dragged and dragged. Sometimes it just felt the author was putting down fact after fact like a very dry textbook. It's an interesting topic but I'm not sure if the author's approach worked for me.
In some ways I found it was much easier to understand via other works. I was reminded of Isabel Wilkerson's 'The Warmth of Other Suns' which addresses the history of black people leaving the South to move North or West or even 'The Help' which has black domestic workers as a major part of the story. To be fair 'The Help' is a book of fiction that has many issues but I was reminded of that story when reading this.
If this is a topic that interests you then by all means it's worth borrowing from the library or buying as a bargain book. But if it's something you don't know much about (which may be part of my problem) OR you have an interest in a particular time period Jones writes about then you may want to look at the book first before deciding to dive in. Would not be surprised to see this pop up in a class about black people, the history of labor and other related subjects.
It might be better to go for books that focus on more specific aspects/topics. I wholeheartedly recommend 'Warmth' although that book is not about black women specifically. Otherwise this wasn't a bad read (and maybe I should have gone for the updated version instead) but I didn't quite get what I had hoped out of this text.