Women Warriors

An Unexpected History
Narrated by: Rosemary Benson
Length: 9 hrs and 48 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.4 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Who says women don’t go to war? From Vikings and African queens to cross-dressing military doctors and WWII Russian fighter pilots, these are the stories of women for whom battle was not a metaphor.

The woman warrior is always cast as an anomaly - Joan of Arc, not GI Jane. But women, it turns out, have always gone to war. In this fascinating and lively world history, Pamela Toler not only introduces us to women who took up arms, she also shows why they did it and what happened when they stepped out of their traditional female roles to take on other identities.

These are the stories of women who fought because they wanted to, because they had to, or because they could. Among the warriors you’ll meet are:

  • Tomyris, ruler of the Massagetae, who killed Cyrus the Great of Persia when he sought to invade her lands
  • The West African ruler Amina of Hausa, who led her warriors in a campaign of territorial expansion for more than 30 years
  • Boudica, who led the Celtic tribes of Britain into a massive rebellion against the Roman Empire to avenge the rapes of her daughters
  • The Trung sisters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, who led an untrained army of 80,000 troops to drive the Chinese empire out of Vietnam
  • The Joshigun, a group of 30 combat-trained Japanese women who fought against the forces of the Meiji emperor in the late 19th century
  • Lakshmi Bai, Rani of Jhansi, who was regarded as the “bravest and best” military leader in the 1857 Indian Mutiny against British rule
  • Maria Bochkareva, who commanded Russia’s first all-female battalion - the First Women’s Battalion of Death - during WWII
  • Buffalo Calf Road Woman, the Cheyenne warrior who knocked General Custer off his horse at the Battle of Little Bighorn
  • Juana Azurduy de Padilla, a mestiza warrior who fought in at least 16 major battles against colonizers of Latin America and who is a national hero in Bolivia and Argentina today
  • And many more spanning from ancient times through the 20th century

By considering the ways in which their presence has been erased from history, Toler reveals that women have always fought - not in spite of being women but because they are women.

©2019 Pamela D. Toler (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Toler blows past all expectations with this thoroughly delightful, personable, and crucially important history of women warriors.” (Library Journal, starred review)

“Toler seeks out courageous women of history who ‘have been pushed into the shadows, hidden in the footnotes, or half-erased.... A short book admirable for wide research.’” (Kirkus Reviews

“Entertaining and colorful.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This entertaining and informative history of women warriors briskly covers huge swathes of time and place, arguing for the significance of a phenomenon as old as warfare itself.” (Julia Kastner, librarian, Shelf Awareness)

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History denied

Women being the lesser sex and not as worthy as men who carry arms for either their country or leaders has resulted in a history that is sparse in facts. Gender bias has led researchers to make assumptions about their archeological finds and make statements with no regard for facts or the issue that there is no supporting data. Two excellent reasons for any woman constrained by social and familial expectations to rebel against the status quo. Any woman serving in the military today and questioning her choice would be well served by reading this book. Women aren't just victims of the raping and pillaging of war and we aren't just myths. It was refreshing to hear that there have always been Women Warriors.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-21-19

History writing and audible at its best.

This book was such a lucky find. It is fascinating, enlightening, well written and brilliantly narrated. I was hooked from page one and taken on its adventure on every page that followed. This audio book is in my must-recommend-to-others list!