100 stories of badass historical and mythical women from all around the world, most of whom you've never heard of. Each entry has a page of illustration and a page or two of text.
Short answer: 12 and up. Younger readers could enjoy most of it, but you'd probably want to read it with them.
Long answer: There's harsh material at the very end, but every entry has content warnings and a maturity level. In terms of US movie ratings, it's probably 35% PG, 60% PG-13, 5% R. This isn't a book to censor history or try to put a pretty spin on things, but it also doesn't get explicit regularly or without reason. Some of the most harrowing entries are online, to help you gauge how bad it gets: check out Ida B Wells, Wu Zetian, and Elisabeth Bathory.
The full table of contents is available below - click here to jump to it. Twenty entries are available for you to preview!
(keep an eye out for these icons, showing content posted online that didn't make the final cut for the book)
Cut Content: Micaela's Graphic Death
Records say the Spanish cut out her tongue and then tried to use a garrote on her. Her neck proved too slender, however, so they used rope and then kicked her until dead. Tupac got off worse - after watching the executions of his family and having his tongue cut out, each of his hands and legs were tied to a different horse and he was literally pulled apart. In a shocking turn of events, the brutal slaughter of folk heroes did not achieve the desired goal of winning over the average Andean.
(keep an eye out for these icons, showing content posted online that didn't make the final cut for the book)
Tatterhood (Norwegian folk tale)
Goat-riding, spoon-wielding princess who fights trolls to save her sister.
Agnodice (4th century BCE, Greece)
Disguised herself as a man to be the physician women needed.
Te Puea Herangi (1883-1952, New Zealand)
The reluctant royal who became the Maori's greatest leader.
Moremi Ajasoro (12th century, Nigeria)
When a neighboring tribe threatened the Yoruba, she went undercover as a spy to find their weakness.
Sybil Ludington (1761-1839, United States)
To warn against the incoming British, this teen girl staged her own midnight ride - far longer and more dangerous than Paul Revere's.
Kurmanjan Datka (1811-1907, Kyrgyzstan)
A clever woman who rose from obscurity to become a political force, playing nations against each other to protect her people.
Andamana (14th century, Canary Islands)
Indigenous lawmaker who united warring tribes under a unified code of laws that she made herself.
Mary Seacole (1805-1881, Jamaica/Crimea) and Florence Nightingale (1820-1910, England/Crimea)
The odd couple of Crimean nursing - one a jolly black businesswoman who swore by folk remedies, the other a by-the-book Victorian rebel who revolutionized the field of medicine.
Grainne 'Grace O'Malley' ni Mhaille (aka Granuaile) (1530-1603)
Irish pirate queen who led decades of rebellions against England, met face-to-face with Elizabeth I, and got official license to continue her piracy.
'Stagecoach' Mary Fields (1832-1914)
Pistol-packing, liquor-swigging, 6'2" black postal carrier/babysitter of the Wild West.
Yennenga (early 12th century, Burkina Faso/Ghana)
An unbeatable warrior princess who just wanted to have kids - and founded a new nation in her quest to do so.
Wilma Rudolph (1940-1994, United States)
Overcame polio, poverty, measles, mumps, scarlet fever, racism, whooping cough, and teenage pregnancy to make Olympic history by winning three gold medals.
Alfhild (5th century, Denmark)
Viking princess who decided she'd rather be a pirate than get married.
Calafia (16th century Spanish Myth)
Black, Muslim warrior queen of a tribe of griffin-riding Amazons - and the honest-to-god namesake of California.
Keumalahayati (16th-17th century, Indonesia/Aceh)
The first naval admiral of modern times, she protected her country from foreign invaders with aplomb.
Marie Marvingt (1875-1963, France)
Ludicrously over-accomplished athlete who invented flying ambulances and won the only gold medal ever awarded by the French Academy of Sports for "all sports" - yes, all of them.
Jane Dieulafoy (1851-1916, France/Persia/Iran)
A phenomenally successful archaeologist who became a fashion icon for wearing men's clothing.
Tin Hinan (4th/5th century, Algeria)
The greatest leader of the nomadic Tuareg tribe of northern Africa, who put their men in veils and let their women run the show.
Emmy Noether (1882-1935, Germany/United States)
Revolutionized the field of mathematics, yet was persecuted for being Jewish and paid a pittance for her visionary teaching work.
Ka'ahumanu (c.1768-1832, Hawaii)
United Hawaii under one rule, abolished ancient taboos, and led negotiations with the fledgling United States.
Katie Sandwina (1884-1952, Austria/United States)
Champion weightlifter, suffragette, mom - this "Lady Hercules" did it all.
Gracia Mendes Nasi (1510-1569, Portugal/Italy/Turkey)
Jewish businesswomen who saved thousands of Jews from the Inquisition by smuggling them out of the country.
Sayyida al-Hurra (c.1482-1562, Morocco)
Indomitable pirate queen who ran Morocco and ruined Portugal.
Matilda of Tuscany (1046-1115, Italy)
Fiery defender of the pope who made kings kneel before her.
Mary Frith aka Moll Cutpurse (1582-1659, England)
Cross-dressing Queen of Thieves who flouted social norms and had plays written about her.
Nellie Bly aka Elizabeth Cochran(1864-1922, United States)
Daring journalist who infiltrated insane asylums, exposed slavery rings, and raced around the world in under 80 days.
Elizabeth Bisland(1861-1929, United States)
Rose from poverty to become a respected journalist who raced Nellie Bly around the world.
Trung Trac and Trung Nhi(1st century, Vietnam)
Sisters who led an army on elephant-back to overthrow oppressive Chinese rule and establish a short-lived Vietnamese kingdom.
Yaa Asantewaa(c.1830-1921, Ghana/Asante Confederacy)
As an old woman, led an incredibly successful rebellion against British colonialism, known as The War of the Golden Stool, or the Yaa Asantewaa War.
Gertrude Bell (1868-1926, England/Mesopotamia/Iraq)
Tossed off the expectations of Victorian society, became an expert mountaineer, traveled the Middle East by herself - later teaching Lawrence of Arabia how it's done - and became one of the most influential women in the English empire.
Eustaquia de Souza and Ana Lezama de Urinza (17th century, Bolivia)
Sword-and-gun-toting lesbian teen vigilantes - 17th century Potosi's answer to Batman.
Mary Bowser (19th century, United States)
Brilliant undercover spy who posed as a slave to spy on - and attempt to burn down - the Confederate White House.
Pope Joan (9th century, Vatican City)
This pope was largely assumed to be male until she gave birth in the midst of a procession - and largely assumed to be factual until the 13th century.
Nwanyeruwa (early 20th century, Nigeria)
Instigated a massive "women's war" against British taxation, the effect of which was one part protest movement, one part comedy roast, and one part block party.
Mary Lacy (1740-1801, England)
This self-described "undutiful daughter" posed as a man to become the world's first female shipwright.
Josefina 'Joey' Guerrero (1918-1996, Philippines/United States)
Let her leprosy go untreated for years to make herself the perfect spy in the Japan-occupied Philippines - soldiers wouldn't touch her, so she could slip right through.
Chiyome Mochizuki (16th century, Japan)
Recruited widows, orphans, and prostitutes into an all-woman ninja spy group, the largest in Asia at the time.
Nana Asma'u (1793-1864, Nigeria/Sokoto Caliphate)
Massively educated princess who started all-female gang of itinerant teachers, who would roam the land and educate unsuspecting passersby.
Nanny of the Maroons (c.1680-1750, Jamaica)
Led colony of escaped slaves and protected them from the English using borderline supernatural abilities.
Chaste and virtuous woman spends life assuming she's better than her more sex-positive neighbor, and for this haughtiness becomes in death a demonic woman who lures wayward men to their death - a stunning indigenous inversion of the Madonna/whore complex.
Tomoe Gozen (1157-1247, Japan)
Fearsome undefeated samurai warrior who was "a match for any god or demon," and is one of Japan's greatest heroines to this day.
Empress Theodora (c.497-548, Turkey/Byzantine Empire)
Sex worker who became empress of the Byzantine Empire, and used her political power to safeguard her interests, and her husband's reputation.
Rani Lakshmibai (1828-1858, India)
Widowed young queen who led a fearsome rebellion against the British with her child tied to her back.
Yael (13th century BCE, Israel/Canaan)
Saved the Jewish people by hammering a tent spike through an unsuspecting house guest's head.
Wallada bint al-Mustakfi (c.1000-1091, Spain/al-Andalus)
Spirited poetry-spouting princess who lived an audacious life and put her cheating lover on blast with her expert slam poetry.
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852, England)
History's first computer programmer, who invented algorithms for the first computer - which didn't even exist during her lifetime, so she had to do it all in her head.
Laskarina Bouboulina (1771-1825, Greece)
Born in a prison cell, this revolutionary financed and led a large chunk of Greece's navy to victory in their fight for independence.
Christine de Pizan (1364-c.1430, France)
When her husband unexpectedly died, she rolled up her sleeves and became one of the greatest authors of the age to keep food on the table. She wrote passionate defenses of her gender (and military treatises!) that were centuries ahead of their time.
Harriet Tubman (1822-1913, United States)
Escaped slave turned slave rescuer turned plantation-torching Union spymaster, she was part Moses, part Joan of Arc, part Spider-Man.
Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643, United States)
This uneducated rebel preacher upstaged New England magistrates so much that they founded Harvard University in part to prevent women like her from gaining power.
A'isha bint abi Bakr (614-678, Saudi Arabia)
Independent, bold wife of the Prophet Muhammad, she led armies in the Battle of the Camel and was one of the central figures of the Shia/Sunni civil war that continues to this day. (Note: this entry's image follows Islamic artistic conventions to depict its figures respectfully)
Olga of Kiev (890-969, Ukraine)
Brutal princess-turned-Christian saint who burnt down enemy towns using pigeons.
Agontime and the Dahomey Amazons (19th century, Dahomey/Benin)
The world's fiercest all-female fighting force, and the incredible tale of how they rescued their deposed queen from slavery in Brazil.
This amateur dancer escaped a life of abuse by pretending to be an Indonesian princess - and eventually became a victim of the maniacal world of espionage.
Josephine Baker (1906-1975, France/United States)
Rose from dire poverty and violence to become the greatest black entertainer of all time - Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Angelina Jolie all rolled into one.
Dhat al-Himma (8th century Arabian myth)
Sword-slinging Arabian heroine who stars as the heroine of an extremely long and entertaining epic tale.
Alice B. Clement (1878-1926, United States)
Chicago detective whose crime-busting exploits grew so popular she had her own newspaper series and starred in her own movie.
When this princess had her life ruined by an unstoppable warrior, she: became a fervent ascetic for years and got a divine boon; killed herself to reincarnate faster; came back as a man; and killed the man who'd wronged her, in the stunning climax of the world's longest epic poem.
Khawlah bint al-Azwar (7th century, Syria/Jordan/Palestine)
When Byzantine forces capture her brother, this warrior poet donned the outfit of a black knight and went on a bloody rescue mission.
Mary Baker aka Princess Caraboo (1791-1864, England)
This phony Asian royalty fooled rural England for some time - but the truth she was hiding was far darker.
Anita Garibaldi (1821-1849, Brazil/Uruguay/Italy)
This heroine of South America and Italy fought in numerous civil wars alongside her husband, Giuseppe Garibaldi, often while pregnant or while carrying her children.
Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1929, England)
This unassuming middle-aged woman became one of Britain's most notorious terrorists in her unyielding quest to win women the right to vote.
The actual hero of the Ali Baba myth, this slave girl saves the titular character by singlehandedly dispatching the forty thieves - without him even knowing.
Hortense Mancini (1646-1699, France/Italy/England)
One of the most infamous libertines of the Renaissance, she cavorted all over Europe to flee her abusive marriage, lived a hedonistic life, and wrote memoirs under her own name - all in an attempt to win herself a divorce.
Marie Mancini (1639-1715, France/Italy/Spain)
Joined her sister Hortense Mancini in escaping from an equally abusive marriage, making headlines (and trouble) all across Europe in the process.
Jezebel (9th century BCE, Israel)
Roundly-despised and unfairly-maligned seductress of the bible who ran afoul of the wrong priests.
Revolutionary who martyred herself to help rid China of the Qing dynasty.
Yoshiko Kawashima (1907-1948, China/Japan)
Bisexual cross-dressing spy princess of the Qing dynasty - a hero to some and unspeakable villain to others.
Joan of Arc (1412-1431, France)
The infamous teen girl who helped end the Hundred Years War and save France - but do you know how she got to such prominence? This book has an answer, and it involves another powerful woman, operating behind the scenes...
The Night Witches (c.1940, Russia)
This all-female civilian volunteer unit of the WW2 Soviet military overcame a lack of training, equipment, and faith to pull off one of the greatest underdog feats in human history and in so doing become Germany's worst nightmare.
Kharboucha (19th century Moroccan legend)
This legendary pockmarked poet sang truth to power and was killed for it, becoming an enduring symbol of resistance.
Marguerite de la Rocque (mid-16th century, Canada/France)
Stranded by her cruel relative on an abandoned Canadian island (literally named the Isle of Demons), she survived for two years by hunting animals and eventually made it back to France.
Empress Myeongseong (1851-1895, Korea)
Picked to be an impotent figurehead, this savvy intellectual quickly learned how to play politics and modernized the nation to ward off invasion.
Micaela Bastidas (1741-1781, Peru/Bolivia)
The strident partner of the eponymously-named Tupac Amaru Rebellion of native peoples against the Spanish, she handled army and bureaucratic logistics with an unmatched efficiency.
Neerja Bhanot (1963-1986, India)
When hijackers boarded her plane, this 23-year-old flight attendant gave her life to save the lives of hundreds.
Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653, Italy)
One of the greatest painters of the baroque, she revenged herself on her rapist both in the court of law and in her powerful, grotesque, incredibly popular paintings that depicted his gruesome death.
Caterina Sforza (1463-1509, Italy)
The illegitimate and widowed child of a minor noble, she became one of the most powerful and outrageous women in Italy, commanding troops, insulting Machiavelli, and fighting Cesare Borgia with unmatched ferocity.
Somalia's ballsiest queen, she took power from men either figuratively or literally - by ordering much of the gender castrated. Hero or villain, depending on who's doing the telling, she remains one of Africa's most divisive figures.
Malinche (c.1496-1529, Mexico/Aztec Empire)
Sold into sexual slavery to Hernan Cortes, this maligned woman became his interpreter, and it was with her words that the Aztec Empire fell.
Phoolan Devi (1963-2001, India)
Born into the lowest rung of the caste system, this woman put decades of horrific abuse to an end by starting a bandit gang, laying waste to those who preyed on the less-fortunate, and getting a reputation as an incarnation of the goddess of destruction. After she gave herself up and spent some time in prison, she got out, ran for parliament, and won.
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