Women Warriors: An Unexpected History

Beacon. Feb. 2019. 240p. illus. notes. index.ISBN 9780807064320. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780807064641. HIST
More women, Toler (The Heroines of Mercy Street) wants her readers to understand, have fought in battles than we'll ever know. By the author's own account, the women featured in this book are the results of a trimmed list of thousands, grouped by categories: mothers fighting for children; daughters inspired by fathers; queens and widows defending their lands or husbands; women who disguised themselves as men or fought openly with no cover up at all. The scope of subjects limits the depth of individual coverage, with most of the women getting a few pages that summarizes their life, actions, and legacy through the discussion of historical sources. Toler's concentrated effort to include lesser-known figures from non-Western countries—Arabic queen Mavia and Vietnam's Trung sisters sit alongside Celtic queen Boudica and Joan of Arc—are significant points in the work's favor. The author's passion for her subjects carries through to her commentary, which, while casual in tone, provides a clear (if occasionally repetitive) criticism of the historical trends of sexist dismissal these women faced in their own time and today.
VERDICT This strong-voiced treatment nicely introduces readers to the lives of less-familiar historical women.

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