WOMEN WARRIORS by David E. Jones


A History
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 A full yet readable historical survey of women at war that convincingly shows females have long been soldiers and military leaders. To counter the male conditioning that has led women to believe that ``the warrior's power historically and biologically belongs only to men,'' Jones, a scholar of military societies (Cultural Anthropology/Univ. of Central Florida), spans past and present to gather a variety of true-life examples of women warriors from Arabia, India, the Middle East, and Western societies. Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, and Molly Pitcher are presented in detail; so are less well known women, including the Teutonic warrior Thusnelda, the ancient Ethiopian warrior queens called kentakes, and the 20th- century Vietnamese warrior Ming Khai, whose prison cell wall bore a poem written in blood that ended, ``The sword is my child, the gun is my husband.'' The practices of women warriors are no less harsh--murder, scalping, removing a tongue to prohibit dissemination of secrets--and the will to conquer and subdue opponents, male and female, no less fierce than in male warriors. The numbers of women warriors, Jones demonstrates, sometimes ran high, comprising, for example, nearly half of ``some European tribal armies'' and 30 percent of the Sandinista forces in the 1970s. Some may feel empowered by these impressive accounts; others may find them repetitive in their narration of military action. (On a lighter note, this may be a useful sourcebook for actresses searching for good female roles: Before Braveheart, there was Queen Penthesilea.) By sheer accumulation of examples, and by careful adherence to its cultural and historical perspectives, this book succeeds in its goal--to position women as accomplished, worthy soldiers, and to ``reveal a particular truth of female historical experience.'' (13 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-57488-106-X
Page count: 304pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1996


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