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A History of the World in 21 Women

Narrated by: Jenni Murray
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

I was 10 years old when I came across Boadicea, and she became the first woman to make me realise that the designated future of a girl born in 1950 - to be sweet, domesticated, undemanding and super feminine - was not necessarily the case.

Boadicea battled the Romans. Nancy Astor fought in Parliament. Emmeline Pankhurst campaigned for female suffrage. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became a pioneering physician in a man’s profession. Mary Quant revolutionised the fashion industry.

Britain has traditionally been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men and its monarchs. It’s high time that it was defined by its women. In this unique history, Jenni Murray tells the stories of 21 women who refused to succumb to the established laws of society, whose lives embodied hope and change. Famous queens, forgotten visionaries, great artists and trailblazing politicians - all pushed back boundaries and revolutionised our world. In Murray’s hands their stories are enthralling and beguiling; they have the power to inspire us once again.

©2018 Jenni Murray (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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  • Jennifer Chennell
  • 09-16-18

so disappointing

I was really looking forward to listening to this book only to be left bored and bitterly disappointed. Whether you agree or not with the level of "greatness" of the women picked by Jenni ( all depends on your political social literary or artistic preferences) there can be no doubt their lives/accievements have been remarkable, for good or bad, but this book is as "dry as dust" often with anecdotes and asides that add absolutely nothing to the story. How anybody can make the life of such persons as diverse as Isabella of Castile, Frida Kahlo or Benazir Bhutto sound so dull it has you reaching for copious amounts of caffeine to keep you awake beggers belief. Am afraid not a book i could or would recommend to anybody.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • K. J. Noyes
  • 09-12-18

Passionate feminist perspective on history

Passionate and rather fascinating feminist perspective on some famous (and not so famous) women of significance.

Jenni Murray clearly feels strongly about her subject here, and as the reader of the Audible version, her passion also is evident to the listener as she brings us forward in time from such figures as Joan of Arc and Catherine the Great, all the way to Hillary Clinton and Madonna.

From the political stateswomen to artists, musicians, sportspersons - I was surprised and rather intrigued by the detail Murray has brought together. As an 'insider' herself, who had interviewer a few of the subjects, her own findings brought personal touches and facts I hadn't known.

The style of the book worked, biographical facts mixed with personal opinion. For those women I knew, their sections were absorbing. Those that were new to me, I found rather intriguing as well. It is a good range of subjects, from various times and places, fields and backgrounds.

There are a good number of these sorts of books coming out now, both for adults and children, and there is a worry that we will become saturated by such 'potted female history', though this is surely going to lead the pack in its almost reverential look at their lives and influence.

Rather inspiring, and packed with gems of unknown information. Murray's narration of the audio version is a very enjoyable listen, flows nicely within each chapter, though I would have, as with much non-fiction liked chapters to be named after their subjects, for ease of reference if looking for a particular figure.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 10-29-18

An inspiring listen

I would strongly recommend everyone on the planet listens to this book. There are certain individuals who should most definitely have a read (namely a couple of blokes in arguably the highest offices of power in the world, messers Trump and Putin!), but who I doubt they will ever hear of the work (sorry Jenni), and even if they did they would immediately dismiss it out of hand. However they would be missing an excellent reflection on some amazing people.

The selection is varied and covers all walks of life and all corners of the globe, but in each Jenni sees a woman who has stood out in whatever time / area she lived in. Someone who have stood up against a variety of oppressions and said no, that's not who I am, that's not what I want to do, that's not who I want to be. Not only that, but they also frequently affected change, or certainly inspired others to do so.

I watched the third episode of the latest series of Doctor Who yesterday, which in itself has caused some controversy, now having a female lead. The theme was Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus and, as a result, kick starting the civil rights movement. Looking at life now, along with so many chapters in the book, we have come a long way in our society. Race, sex, religion are all more accepted than they were 10, 50, 100, 1000 years ago. Watch the news on a daily basis though, and you will see we still have a long way to go. However, there is hope ...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Katrina Brown
  • 09-08-19

Thoroughly enjoyable

Ms Murray had such a soothing voice to listen to but that doesn't detract from the serious & fascinating subject matter. She is insightful, passionate about her topic, but doesn't look to much through rose coloured glasses at her subjects. She tries & usually succeeds in presenting them for what they are - flawed yet admirable (in some way) women.

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  • K. J. Bute
  • 09-02-19

Disappointing in some ways

I am female and was looking forward to this book. I learnt some new things and was alerted to a some of women that I had not considered before but there were too many women excluded from this list for me to identify with it.

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  • Suzanne Offord
  • 08-23-19

So inspiring and much much needed

Too long have women and their achievements been written out of history. Finally a book that tells the true and inspiring stories of 21 women. The book is full of fascinating stories, intrigue, humour. There is enough information about each woman to get to know their story but not overwhelmed as there are 21 stories.

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  • Garfield Braithwaite
  • 06-09-19

Thank God for Jenni Murray

I'm so grateful for this book. In a time where cynicism and apathy seem wise choices, this gem is the perfect antidote. Thank you

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  • Sophie
  • 02-14-19

A fantastic story of many incredible women.

Jenni tells a wonderful story of herstories, I really enjoyed this book, it was easy to listen to as you can take it a chapter at a time so can pick it up even whilst inbetween other books.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-25-19

Powerful and joyful

An absolute treat. Inspiring, moving, reassuring and a reminder of what greatness lies inside us all. Thank you, Jenni!

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  • Nataliia
  • 01-12-19

Highly recommended, very inspirational

Great stories! Thank you to the author for great work. The book inspire and gives motivation.