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Who Cooked the Last Supper: The Women's History of the World Paperback – April 10, 2001

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (April 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609806955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609806951
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For every woman who has ever wondered what the women were doing while generals fought battles and kings beheaded their enemies (and for every man who hasn't), this book is for you. Originally published as The Women's History of the World, this reissue comes complete with Rosalind Miles's wry wit and disarming puns on everything from the phallus to bride sales, a very necessary comic relief to the recounting of centuries of abuse and oppression. Miles's engaging story starts with the first woman and her contribution of the essential human gene imprint, and the great evolutionary leap made by the development of monthly menstruation (rather than occasional heat). From the very beginning, women played a central role in human evolvement, from their critical part in sustaining early tribes with their food gathering (hunting brought marginal food contributions) to the impetus for developing the first technologies--sticks for digging and slings for carrying babies. In fact, the first God and the first priest-poet were female. Miles gives a relishing description of the Great Goddess Mother and her worshipers, poets, priests, queens, lovers, athletes, and soldiers who had not yet been told that they were physically weak, emotionally unstable, or intellectually inferior.

The history of women is, of necessity, also the history of men, and Miles claims the turning point for the former came when the latter finally got the great Aha!--the realization that sperm was essential for fertilization and that men weren't as superfluous to procreation as previously believed. What follows is not only the story of the attack on women's bodies and repression of their lives, but of women who found ways to subvert and convert the power of men. Examples of active, courageous, and inspiring women abound, from women warriors in Islam to the woman doctor who opened the first birth control clinic. Miles also reveals the barbaric truths behind euphemisms like chastity belt and child bride, and the truly impressive strength of such heroines as Florence Nightingale, who was nicknamed "the lady with the hammer" for attacking a locked storeroom when she needed nursing supplies, and Harriet "General" Tubman, who not only smuggled black slaves to freedom but commanded an action during the Civil War that liberated more than 750 blacks. This is a bracing, disturbing, and always lively read and proves definitively that in history there were always women, too. --Lesley Reed

From Publishers Weekly

A Woman's PlaceThere may have been only men sitting at the table, but Who Cooked the Last Supper? asks writer Rosalind Miles (I, Elizabeth; Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country). Bent on setting the record straight, Miles offers a keen and passionate look at women's contributions to civilizations from hunter-gatherer societies to the present, shining a spotlight into neglected corners as well as on familiar figures: who knew, for example, that Florence Nightingale defied a military commander and, wielding a hammer, broke into a locked storeroom after he refused to give her medical supplies? Readers will delight in this rebel-rousing read, previously published in 1990 by HarperPerennial as The Women's History of the World.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Needless to say, I was disappointed.
Rebecca Lindroos
I have read many, many books on women's history over the years, and I have to say this is by far the best!
Rosalind Miles has done a piece of very good work with this book.
Robin Cerridwen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Robin Cerridwen on January 24, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rosalind Miles has done a piece of very good work with this book. She does not pretend to be unbiased ( she is very emphatically biased)in her description of women's places in society during history, but with so many primary sources she doesn't really have to be, as these women speak for themslves. I found many of the stories horrifying. At times I had to put the book down because the hatred for women illustrated in the quotes was just too poisonous. That said, I found the book illuminating, if not comfortable. I gave it four stars because the early goddess history that Miles describes is of necessity extrapolated from very limited sources, and also because I think that when the book was reissued in 2000 it would have been appropriate to address the events and changes that have occurred since the book first came out in 1988.
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70 of 81 people found the following review helpful By cortney on July 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
In this powerful and disturbing book, Miles interweaves enlightening, empowering facts about women in history that children never get to read in their history books. I'm well over school-aged, and yet every piece of information in this book is absolutely brand new to me. God was once Goddess? Men performed rituals on their bodies in order to recreate the "glorious" act of menstration? I sometimes had to refer to the Notes section to make sure that Miles wasn't making it all up!
I, as well as Miles, grew up wondering where in the world women fit into history---as far as I could see, "his" story was a conglomeration of white men making all the decisions, while women (if they existed at all) hid in the shadows of these powerful (and often very stupid) men. As I read the book, anger overwhemlmed me as I realized that women's history is indeed that of an oppressed majority---an enriching, exciting history that is erased and/or obscured by men looking to dominate the scene. I began to appreciate the gravity of Miles' task of retelling it more and more, and understood the urgency of her success and the very thin ice she tred upon.
This, unfortunately, is where Miles fell in my opinion. She is a powerful author and can paint a picture like few male or female historians before her, however the picture she paints is with terribly bitter and dangerous colors. Her anger (and mine, and every other female's in the world) is understandable and necessary and is a birthright, but Miles takes it too far. She claims that man is a deviation, that his Y chromosome is a "broken and misformed X".
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Carey on August 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first read this book many years ago - under a different title - and I was delighted to come upon it again as it had fascinated, angered and inspired me the first time around. Its impact is still intense several years later - it's amazing how different history - or herstory - looks when the half of the population that's been denigrated and ignored is taken into account.
This book explores women's role in life and work from the beginning of recorded time all the way up to the present. Who knew that for 25,000 years - up until about 2,000 years ago - that every known society worshiped an all powerful goddess? I certainly didn't. Miles explodes the myths of 'man's' evolution and carefully examines the ways in which woman's position altered throughout different eras. While she uses 'famous' women as references, she's careful to point out that these stories only represent a fraction of what women were actually doing, and what they were doing is generally very different from how it's typically portrayed.
One criticism I've heard about the book - but do not share - is its simplistic view, that it comes from a particular position with particular assumptions and goes on from there. To me, this book is merely one perspective on history that uses a completely different model of interpretation. Basically, while it's a terrific book, it's still just one book tackling a subject - the history of the world - about which thousands upon thousands have been written.
I've found this to be a thoroughly delightful and rewarding read, as it taught me that to say that women and their experiences are typically not included in the standard version of history is not an overstatement - I learned so much that I feel I should've known already.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By R. Peterson on November 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
A book club selection by my local group, I ripped though this book in one sitting. It was a stunning, informative, lively look at women in our history instead of the usual men's tale (or from a male perspective). I was engrossed by so many of the arguments made that suggested women where there and accomplishing great things even though the history books ignored them most completely throughout the ages.  Starting from the very beginning of time it was the women who were giving birth, raising children, gathering foods and preparing meals, and keeping the shelter - while the men `occasionally' caught something.. humpth! Unfortunately much of women's history has been permanently destroyed so except for the litany of child rape and other horrors perpetuated against women over the last couple of millennium, very little remains for Miles to use in support of her `history'. Some of the more negative history gets a little tiring at points (how much abuse and suffering do we need to read about - "We know! We know!")  In spite of the dearth of positive material, Miles manages to do her best to outline the very important contributions made by women in every aspect of our culture - much of it at a very fundamental and important level.  My only regret is that she doesn't mention the discovery of the Gnostic gospels and their portrayal of women as teachers and preachers and equals during the time of Christ - if only the men at the head of the church patriarcy had not been so threatened by Thomas' and Philip's (and others') writings they would have been read and changed the history for women over the last 2000 years, ah well...
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