BATTLE CRIES AND LULLABIES: Women in War from Prehistory to the Present by Linda Grant De Pauw

BATTLE CRIES AND LULLABIES: Women in War from Prehistory to the Present

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As president of an institute devoted to promoting women's military studies, De Pauw (History/George Washington Univ.) is clearly enthralled with women's place in military history. Unfortunately, very little of that enthusiasm comes across in this dry-as-toast account. De Pauw notes that her book is likely to be controversial because it operates from the premise that while women have always been involved in war, this involvement has largely remained hidden--due, she says, to society's inability to accept the fact that women can be simultaneously nurturing and aggressive. De Pauw comments in her own preface that an early reader of her work remarked, ""There is something here to offend everyone."" Maybe so; but her research, while exhaustive, doesn't really live up to expectations. She begins with a chapter of definitions and presuppositions that includes a subsection entitled, ""What Is a Woman?"" (And we duly learn, ""A woman is any human who self-identifies as female, whatever her race, class, behavior, or physical appearance."") Another chapter defines war as ""a disciplined and socially sanctioned use of deadly force by one group of people against another."" (How else could it be defined?) De Pauw traces the history of war, beginning before Christ and ending with contemporary times, noting various women's actions and how they changed as female societal roles evolved. Readers interested in some of the intriguing and lesser-known women unearthed by De Pauw--""say, the British queen Boudicca, who led a revolt against the Romans in 61 A.D. or Hannah Duston, who fought the Indians in America in 1697""--will be frustrated by the author's decision to compress so much history into one volume. Still, as an overview of war's evolution and women's share in it, it'll suffice.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Univ. of Oklahoma