When journalist Josh Levin began investigating an infamous welfare cheat, his story spiraled into an expose of one of the most outrageous female criminals in modern history.
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Annie Jump Cannon
This astronomer threw off all the social conventions of her day to pursue her one true calling: the stars.
The "Last of the Aboriginal Tasmanians" (she wasn't) used brains, brawn, and sheer will to carve a place for herself, even as the world was collapsing around her.
Born in a prison cell, this revolutionary financed and led a large chunk of Greece's navy to victory in their fight for independence.
Carolina Maria de Jesus
Brash, funny, and difficult, this mother of three wrote her way out of extreme poverty with her uncompromising look at Brazilian society - and was alternately lauded and berated for it.
First her father died. Then her sons. Then her husband. Pregnant, saddled with debt, a failing company, and an overbearing mother, Rebecca Lukens rolled up her sleeves and showed the world what she was made of: iron.
When invaders threatened her island home, she declared herself a living god, raised an army, and fought them tooth, nail, and occasional grenade.
This superhero of early Iranian mythology starred in her own stories, and plenty of them.
Gracia Mendes Nasi
Jewish businesswoman who saved thousands of Jews from the Inquisition by smuggling them out of the country.
She traded a life of privilege for one spent fighting for justice on both literal and political battlefields so tirelessly that even exiling her five times couldn't keep her down.
This legendary pockmarked poet sang truth to power and was killed for it, becoming an enduring symbol of resistance.