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The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era

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A unique and comprehensive encyclopedia of more than 1,000 valiant female combatants who have appeared in history, mythology, and literature from the dawn of history to the present day."An excellent piece of scholarly detective work...offers information not found in other reference sources"—Library Journal. A unique and comprehensive encyclopedia of more than 1,000 valiant female combatants who have appeared in history, mythology, and literature from the dawn of history to the present day."An excellent piece of scholarly detective work...offers information not found in other reference sources"—Library Journal.


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A unique and comprehensive encyclopedia of more than 1,000 valiant female combatants who have appeared in history, mythology, and literature from the dawn of history to the present day."An excellent piece of scholarly detective work...offers information not found in other reference sources"—Library Journal. A unique and comprehensive encyclopedia of more than 1,000 valiant female combatants who have appeared in history, mythology, and literature from the dawn of history to the present day."An excellent piece of scholarly detective work...offers information not found in other reference sources"—Library Journal.

30 review for The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. When the US military basically deiced to acknowledge the fact that women can fight, some jerks predicted the end of the American military. This just goes to show that such people don’t have a good sense of history. Salmonson‘s encyclopedia lists fighting women, both historical, legendary, and fictional. It is too her credit that she draws upon a wide range of sources, cites most entries, and covers history from North and South America, Asia, and Africa as well as E Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley. When the US military basically deiced to acknowledge the fact that women can fight, some jerks predicted the end of the American military. This just goes to show that such people don’t have a good sense of history. Salmonson‘s encyclopedia lists fighting women, both historical, legendary, and fictional. It is too her credit that she draws upon a wide range of sources, cites most entries, and covers history from North and South America, Asia, and Africa as well as Europe. The focus is mostly on fighting women, though a few other strong willed women make appearances. In some ways, while the book is excellent over all there are some strange omissions. For instance, including Vashti is great, but while not Esther? Why isn’t Qaydafeh from the Shamahah mentioned? And, Sir Philip Sidney is not a Restoration writer. That aside, this is a great reference and source. While Molly Pitcher and other famous Amazons are mentioned, Salmonson brings to light little known women, including women who fought against colonialism and all women battalions in various wars. She brings to light various less well known myths involving the Amazons as well as looking possible historic realities. She also looks a little closely at cultures that had a tradition of women warriors. If you are a feminist or are interested history this is worth picking up, even if just for the comprehensive bibliography at the end.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Leah Cossette

    Awful book, for a multitude of reasons. While I am always interested in women's history, this is not a good representation of the genre. First, the entries were far too short and the writing was dry and dull. Second, it's jarring after a while to skip from a historical warrior to a mythical figure to a fictional character who fought in some play. But Salmonson presents history, myth, and fiction side by side. Very distracting. Then, a lot of the women she lists aren't even real warriors! She cou Awful book, for a multitude of reasons. While I am always interested in women's history, this is not a good representation of the genre. First, the entries were far too short and the writing was dry and dull. Second, it's jarring after a while to skip from a historical warrior to a mythical figure to a fictional character who fought in some play. But Salmonson presents history, myth, and fiction side by side. Very distracting. Then, a lot of the women she lists aren't even real warriors! She counts camp followers like Elizabeth Custer (she was in the vicinity of Little Big Horn) and actresses like Adah Isaacs Menken (she played a warrior in stage), but won't include female spies like Belle Boyd and Mary Edwards Walker. If you want to honor women's skills as propaganda writers (Custer) or daring performers (Menken), then do. But don't pass them off as Amazons. Plus, the book is riddled with historical errors. Joan of Arc was executed by the Burgundians, who were distinct from the French, but Salmonson simply says 'French'. She says that Marguerite of Anjou fled from the Battle of Tewkesbury with her 'infant son', exactly one sentence after telling us that Prince Edward had died in the battle (he was in his teens, and the only son she had). The way I see it, if she makes these kinds of obvious mistakes in entries about well-known women, how can I trust her to accurately tell the stories of the more obscure warriors? I don't. Last but not least, Salmonson is obviously coming from a certain liberal worldview, which I'm afraid she has let get in the way of her objectivity. She presents theories as if they are facts, fails to source many of her claims, and generally seems to have lost sight of the truth in all her fervor. Her bio on the back jacket tells me she's working on a 'mystic interpretation of women in the Bible'. Oh boy. I'm an ardent feminist and always will be, but this book is just not good. Stick with Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser, or Princesses Behaving Badly, or Rejected Princesses. They are much better.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Mazzocco

    If you're curious about fighting women in history, "The Encyclopedia of Amazons" is an excellent starting point. I recommend it. This book is an alphabetized survey of women warriors, soldiers, duelists, guerrillas, and the occasional criminal. Most of them are historical figures but the author also includes notable figures from myth (e.g. the Amazons, Valkyries, war goddesses), folklore, and a handful from fiction. The entries vary in length from a single sentence to more than a page. The majori If you're curious about fighting women in history, "The Encyclopedia of Amazons" is an excellent starting point. I recommend it. This book is an alphabetized survey of women warriors, soldiers, duelists, guerrillas, and the occasional criminal. Most of them are historical figures but the author also includes notable figures from myth (e.g. the Amazons, Valkyries, war goddesses), folklore, and a handful from fiction. The entries vary in length from a single sentence to more than a page. The majority of the "Amazons" are from Eurasian history, with a smattering from the other continents and island nations. One might hope for more balance but, since this book is a catalog of 1991 Western historical knowledge rather an attempt to expand that knowledge, it should not be a surprise. The other side of the that problem is that most readers will still know more about the fighting women of cultures beyond Europe than they did before reading it. There are some authorial choices I would critique, but remember: 4 stars. First, the author strays from her working definition of an "Amazon" as "a woman who...engages others in direct combat". "Amazons" whose entries do not qualify them as such include Queen Elizabeth I (who wore stylized armor while giving a speech to her army), ancient Greek chariot racers (who were not in combat), and the ancient queen Jezebel (whose section reads more like an opinion piece than an encyclopedia entry). Inclusion of some of the most ancient goddesses - among the longest entries in the book - who did not engage in "combat" in a concrete way but whose domains included death and/or strife also seem like a stretch. Second, I occasionally had the feeling that, when faced with conflicting sources or multiple narratives, the author used the ones which had the greatest appeal rather than the ones which were best supported. The most blatant example - and I wish I had the book with me to check her source - was the suggestion that the all-female Heraean Games were many centuries older than the all-male Olympic Games. I'm not interested in defending white male historical knowledge, but that long a gap seems implausible - the accepted theory of the Heraean Games has it starting far, far sooner after the first Olympics - and implies a privileged status for women in a culture known for its patriarchy. I'm skeptical. Also, this is another case of non-combatants being included under the umbrella of "Amazons." All in all, this book will leave you with a greatly broadened knowledge of women in military and single combat as well as the sense that the author's personal definition of "an Amazon" is really a woman of power and agency whose image or accomplishments seem larger-than-life in her time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sonnydee

    Oh man, I love this book. As a history it's a bit dodgy: Salmonson's pretty inconsistent with dating (sometimes she just doesn't include dates, even for entries which really should have them), historical figures are not clearly distinguished from mythical figures, and several factoids are of dubious veracity at best and are straight-up bullshit at worst. But as feminist myth-making goes this is up there with Wittig and Zeig's "Brouillon Pour Un Dictionnaire des Amantes." Flipping through it is a Oh man, I love this book. As a history it's a bit dodgy: Salmonson's pretty inconsistent with dating (sometimes she just doesn't include dates, even for entries which really should have them), historical figures are not clearly distinguished from mythical figures, and several factoids are of dubious veracity at best and are straight-up bullshit at worst. But as feminist myth-making goes this is up there with Wittig and Zeig's "Brouillon Pour Un Dictionnaire des Amantes." Flipping through it is a delight. The entries are brief but the stories are electrifying. All my faves are here, as well as plenty I'd never heard of and am dying to learn more about. The bibliography at the end is great. This book particularly deserves a place on the shelves of SFF writers (like Salmonson herself) because there's no shortage of badass name and character concept ideas.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    I've read it a dozen times over the years. Always cheers me up I've read it a dozen times over the years. Always cheers me up

  6. 4 out of 5

    rêveur d'art

    A great rundown of strong women that I will be perusing often. Also, the bibliography at the end is amazing. "Many heroes worthy of renown,” said Horace, “have existed, acted, and been forgotten.” More so the heroines. I have collected their histories for about fifteen years, and what I’ve come to realize is that there remains a great deal more to be uncovered. " A great rundown of strong women that I will be perusing often. Also, the bibliography at the end is amazing. "Many heroes worthy of renown,” said Horace, “have existed, acted, and been forgotten.” More so the heroines. I have collected their histories for about fifteen years, and what I’ve come to realize is that there remains a great deal more to be uncovered. "

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Gao

    Very comprehensive and enjoyable book for anyone interested in the mighty female warriors that graced our history.

  8. 5 out of 5

    M.L.

    What a great resource. The foreword by the author describing the reactions of readers to her first book set the ground rules in explaining her purpose in writing the book (not to advance any agenda, apparently) and her rationale for including some women but not others (athletics, actual going into danger, not just directing from behind the scenes). Rounding out her foreword, she introduced the idea that since many women went unnamed or unrecognized, future discoveries will bring to the fore oth What a great resource. The foreword by the author describing the reactions of readers to her first book set the ground rules in explaining her purpose in writing the book (not to advance any agenda, apparently) and her rationale for including some women but not others (athletics, actual going into danger, not just directing from behind the scenes). Rounding out her foreword, she introduced the idea that since many women went unnamed or unrecognized, future discoveries will bring to the fore other women to be included in such a reference book (maybe an updated version?). I, of course, looked up several women I could think of: Boadicea – was, of course included, Sacajawea – to my surprise was not, but Sappho – a poet was (maybe there was an agenda?). I’m giving this only 3 stars since some of the reasoning used in the book seems suspect. And if a part of it is specious reasoning then there’s probably more to be found throughout the book. The aforementioned fact that Sacajawea was not included yet she heroically saved the Lewis and Clark expedition several times at considerable risk to herself but the poet Sappho was included, seems to indicate either an unstated agenda or just a lapse of judgment. Also under “Admete” it is mentioned that she tried to defeat Heracles but finally he raped her. “This seems less likely given that Heracles is afterward Admetes’ retainer and invaded Amazonia at her behest” Admete and Heracles are mythical persons and many myths’ details/stories differ by locales and times. The stories differ in great or small details depending on who’s telling the myth. So rather than argue that the myth that Heracles raped Admete was wrong and using another version of that myth to support that conclusion just seems silly. In spite of my reservations, I look forward to using this as a reference book to read at my leisure and as a jumping off place to research each name that strikes my interest as I go through the book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sean Andres

    I was excited to read this, but after such work like Antonia Fraser's, it's easy to dismiss Salmonson's efforts in collecting notable women warriors. The idea of a compiled list with brief descriptions in alphabetical order is great, but it lacks a lot, primarily in sources, dating, and locations. Some women have dates with their names, when they were born and died, and it's utilized at the beginning. However, it seems to be a forgotten practice halfway through the book. Sometimes we'll get a ce I was excited to read this, but after such work like Antonia Fraser's, it's easy to dismiss Salmonson's efforts in collecting notable women warriors. The idea of a compiled list with brief descriptions in alphabetical order is great, but it lacks a lot, primarily in sources, dating, and locations. Some women have dates with their names, when they were born and died, and it's utilized at the beginning. However, it seems to be a forgotten practice halfway through the book. Sometimes we'll get a century in which the woman lived. Sometimes we'll get no dating at all. Salmonson sometimes attributes locations, and sometimes she doesn't. Occasionally when she does, it's a specific town or city without an identifying country, like we're supposed to know where it is. She does note characters of fiction, but she doesn't differentiate mythic figures, folk legends, and historical people. Some entries I know are questionable in their statements, and some entries are incorrect or confused with other entries, like Sarah Emma Edmonds. (Believe me, I'm somewhat of a Sarah enthusiast.) In short, the book is a great starter, but it doesn't offer much more. It's an entry point into your own research on the subjects. I enjoyed it for what it is: a brief glimpse into notable warrior women. Many entries have garnered my interest, and I'm prone to do more research on the women.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Okay, so to be fair, this is called "The Encyclopedia of Amazons", but I expected it to be less of an actual encyclopedia and more along the lines of "heres a few pages about this person, and here's a few pages about this person" etc. It was actually fairly interesting, it just wasn't quite what I expected. The one real issue I had with the book was that facts weren't always clearly cited. This was an issue because there were multiple occasions where the author presented things as fact that, fro Okay, so to be fair, this is called "The Encyclopedia of Amazons", but I expected it to be less of an actual encyclopedia and more along the lines of "heres a few pages about this person, and here's a few pages about this person" etc. It was actually fairly interesting, it just wasn't quite what I expected. The one real issue I had with the book was that facts weren't always clearly cited. This was an issue because there were multiple occasions where the author presented things as fact that, from other reading I've done, seem to be disputed because of lack of reliable sources. Received from NetGalley.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Donna Maguire

    This book is exactly what it says in the title and an encyclopedia in A-Z form of the Amazons. It contains masses of informtaion in just the right size chunks not to make the subject too dry. It would be a great addition to any book case for those interested in this subject. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melisende

    A very simple and comprehensive alphabetised selection of women warriors from ancient times up until the use of the firearm. It covers a diverse range of women from the fictional and mythological to some well-known and lesser-known women. A useful addition to any library.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Grey Johnson

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lady Niniane

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ken Wofford

  16. 5 out of 5

    Erica

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  18. 4 out of 5

    May

  19. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

  20. 5 out of 5

    Clodagh

  21. 5 out of 5

    Liz

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kallie

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Hebbard

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  25. 5 out of 5

    ninamo

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michael Goldman

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kevan Bowkett

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nandhini

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ren Engstrom

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

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