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Women Warriors: A History (Warriors (Potomac Books)) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews Review

Never mind the accomplishments of American women in the Gulf War, of Nicaraguan women in the Sandinista revolt, of Vietnamese women in countless wars: fighting, many continue to believe, is the province of men. Setting aside the question of whether war is desirable no matter who fights it, anthropologist David Jones takes a look at women warriors throughout world history. He turns up well-known examples like Joan of Arc and Molly Pitcher; better, he looks at the contributions of lesser- known fighters from ancient Scandinavia and Africa on down to the present. Throughout Jones has a keen eye for (sometimes gruesome) detail, and he leaves you feeling glad you don't have to scrap with any of his many fearsome heroines. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Openly dismissive of traditional Western arguments that women are ill-suited for combat, Jones, a cultural anthropologist, sets out to show that women "own" war and its glories just as much as men do. Reaching back to ancient times and continuing through to the Gulf War, Jones divides his work into geographically themed chapters. In them, he presents instance after instance of females who "have taken the field and have wielded the weapons of their day." While Jones offers the caveat that "no sane person would wish involvement in war on anyone-male or female," he presents his women warriors in heroic terms. Among the many she-warriors who make appearances are the medieval Japanese Lady Yatsushior, who charged into battle while pregnant, and the 19th-century Frenchwoman Jeanette Colin, who disguised herself as a man and fought against the British at the Battle of Trafalgar. Many of Jones's tales are fascinating, but the scope of this survey is so broad that he hits only the highlights of each story before moving on to the next. Readers are left hankering for more of such viragoes as the Irish pirate queen Grace O'Malley, who reportedly terrorized even the powerful British Queen Elizabeth I. Serious students of military history may fault Jones for his heavy reliance on anecdotal material, and for his one-sided presentation of his subject, particularly regarding the role of women in modern American conflicts. Others will lose patience with his heavy-handed presentation of theme: "Men and women will never reach a common consciousness of their equality as humans until both accept that women have a claim on the title 'Warrior.'" Still, this is an entertaining introduction to an intriguing and largely neglected subject. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Warriors (Potomac Books)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574887262
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574887266
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #967,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. K. Kelley on July 26, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The subject is worthy of a book. However, this one can't be called history, and that's a serious problem in a book titled _Women Warriors: A History_.

If one is going to write a history, one cannot get obvious details flat wrong. Jones has the Roman Emperor Claudius bossing 'General' Julius Caesar--in a year in which Claudius was not yet born, no Emperor existed, and the rank of 'General' did not exist in the Roman Republic. He has the Spartans at war with a city called 'Argive.' This would be like them attacking a city called 'Athenian' or 'Theban.' 'Argive' is the demonym for the city of Argos, in the Peloponnese. And these are only the fundamental historical cluelessnesses that jumped out at me, making me wonder how many did not but are still incorrect.

If one is going to write about the military art, one has to grasp the basics of military science. Hussars are light cavalry. Saying that someone served in the infantry in a unit of hussars, in the age of equestrian warfare, shows a basic absence of military understanding. It's the little things: calling the renamed 587th Bomber Aviation Regiment the '125th Raskova Guardians' could only be done by someone who knows nothing about the way the Soviet Union named Guards units.

The book gets two stars because of the large volume of subject matter, most of which might be true, and which supplies a number of probably credible stories about women in leadership and war. And that's all it gets, because for a professor at a university to butcher history this way is inexcusable. Jones had access to people who knew better, and evidently they were not consulted.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 1997
Format: Hardcover
A rare find, indeed. Professor Jones has written about a neglected bit of women's history without being strident, lecturing or inventing facts. He covers all time periods and cultures, from Saudi Arabian battle queens, to Organa Khatun of Mongolia, to Rani Jhansi of India, to Molly Pitcher.

Prof. Jones' prose is easy to read, and he documents his findings in endnotes.

This book was fun to read. It fills in some very large gaps in military history and in women's history. Prof. Jones also provides some much-needed background for the current controversy about women in combat.

_Women Warriors_ should be of interest to anyone who is interested in history, women, or war. It also would be a very good book to give to a teenage woman.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book on warrior women reads easily- only its density- for I found that Dr. Jones had included so much- revealed his university ties. Just as there were once women priests, so too women could be fierce, feared warriors. This book should be required reading for men in the military- so they can respect the potential of their female cohorts.
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25 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Infornific on July 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Professor Jones tries to write a history of women warriors but fails for a number of reasons. First,the book lacks coherence. He includes women who were warriors, war time leaders and any other women who could at all be tied into a martial tradition. He even brings in Cleopatra, neither a warrior nor a general nor the leader of a nation at war. However, he makes no effort to create any kind of theory to explain women warriors or even identify any common patterns of behavior. Consequently the book is simply a collection of anecdotes organized only by region. Second, the book contains a number of factual errors. For example, he mentions "General Julius Caesar" invading Britain during the reign of Claudius and later refers to Saxons conquering Roman Britain in the first century AD. In fact, Julius Caesar led an expedition against Britain about a century before Emperor Claudius, it was during Claudius's reign that Britain became part of the Empire and the Saxons didn't invade until the fifth century. Likewise, he describes Lucy Brewer as the first female Marine and fails to mention her account was most likely fiction. These are just errors I caught in passing. Third, he leaps mightily in his conclusions. He claims integrating women in the military should be no problem, despite the fact all of the warriors he describes are either unique individuals or (much less often) members of female only units. He also claims martial arts training negates the male advantages of size and strength. This ignores strength needed to bear arms, armor and gear in battle and on long marches. In addition, ancient armies didn't have the time to train common soldiers to the level of martial arts experts. Even the intensively trained Roman legions preferred big and strong recruits.Read more ›
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
The author sums up the book in his own preface. "History, as you will read, demonstrates that the warrior's mantle is a woman's birthright as surely as it is a man's and that the hand that rocks the cradle can also wield the sword." I found the book highly readable, and an enthusiastic overview of women's warrior history. Many of the stories were not new to me. I already knew the histories of women pirates, gladiators, warriors and soldiers--from hundreds of different sources scattered throughout historical material. But that is the beauty of this book. It combines into one compact volume a known history long ignored. And the author encompasses the world's history, not just a particular continent or a single point in time. The entire work is carefully footnoted. The historical references at the back of the book appear thoroughly researched. The author himself "sought references that purport to be historical as opposed to mythological texts". The index is efficient. All in all, an excellent book, and an excellent history.
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