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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The first female mathematician in recorded history, and one of the luminaries of the ancient world - but her grisly death at the hands of a mob was only the start of her troubles.
After escaping the Armenian Genocide (by walking across the Syrian desert while pregnant), this woman went back into Armenia to rescue her sons, then made her way to America -- where she invented the recipe for Rice-a-Roni.
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.
Madam C.J. Walker
America's ostensible first female self-made millionaire was a black beauty magnate who did it all for her daughter.
This Sikh warrior saint led 40 deserters back into battle and in so doing, possibly saved her entire religion from extinction.
A clever woman who rose from obscurity to become a political force, playing nations against each other to protect her people.
Ida Laura Pfeiffer
Starting her travels at 45 years old, this globetrotter became a worldwide sensation for going boldly where no woman had gone before.
This Armenian folktale princess saved her hapless beau - by making him get a job.
This Indonesian queen ruled wisely and justly in life, and was deified as the embodiment of all evil after her death. The story of why gets a bit complicated.
Black, Muslim warrior queen of a tribe of griffin-riding Amazons - and the honest-to-god namesake of California.