Book of Queens: The True Story of the Middle Eastern Horsewomen Who Fought the War on Terror

Hachette. Aug. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9780306832130. $29. BIOG
Madhavi (president, Univ. of La Verne; Passionate Uprisings: Iran’s Sexual Revolution) details a personal mystery, an equestrian dynasty, and a perpetual state of war in her exploration of the history of the women of the Muslim world who comprise a multigenerational force against warlords, including the Taliban. What starts as a domestic violence refuge for women, led by Madhavi’s Iranian grandmother, grows to a network of women who smuggle, protect, and defend their geographical territory. Running parallel to this history is the lineage of horses, known as Caspians, bred to thrive in these conditions. The women unite with Louise Firouz, an American who helps revive the horse breed, and she quickly becomes an ally to their cause. There’s an amusing scene in which the Green Berets are impressed by the prowess of these horsewomen, only to be flummoxed when they’re assigned to train with men, who they realize are inferior in competence.
VERDICT A breathtaking history, told masterfully. These tapestries of geopolitical history are connected by the author’s personal search for her ancestors and her quest to confirm the existence of the original stud book that authenticates the Caspian horse lineage.
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