Red Valkyries: Feminist Lessons From Five Revolutionary Women

Verso. Jul. 2022. 224p. ISBN 9781839766602. $24.95. SOC SCI
Ghodsee packs a punch in her short volume focusing on five different Red Valkyries. Resistant to the label “feminist” because of its close association with the western liberal feminist agenda, Ghodsee explores her socialist women activists one by one, tracing their lives and work as they respond to some of the most significant Russian and world events of the 20th century. As an expert in her field, she deftly covers vast amounts of history, political theory, and complicated personal relationships in an accessible way for all levels of informed readers. She invokes a large body of research, which can be seen in the extensive notes section and the “suggestions for further reading” pages. But her prose is never too academic, and the little-known stories of the women are captivating. The Red Valkyries’ accomplishments, in everything from record-breaking sniper kills to the formation of several political institutions for women’s emancipation, help challenge narrow views of what it meant to empower women in the twentieth century. Ghodsee ends the book with nine overarching lessons to take from the women’s lives, which helps reframe their efforts for today’s activists.
VERDICT A timely and fascinating volume for those interested in Russian and socialist history.
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