Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World, by Ann Shen

Chronicle Books, September 2016

This is a great little collection of short, one- or two-page bios of "bad girls," women who did what they needed to do rather than what they were expected to do. There are warrior queens and pirate queens, actors and writers, inventors, actors who became inventors, politicians, doctors, nurses, notorious criminals, and spies. It's light, lively, with fun, colorful art showing the women described.

It is, sadly, quite oversimplified, probably inevitable given the limited space. We don't know if the story of Cleopatra and the asp is true. Major events in Eva Peron's career are dropped out entirely. And in some places, it's just completely, inexcusably, unnecessarily wrong. The Constitution under which George Washington and then John Adams became President was not even adopted until years after the Revolution. So, no, while John and Abigail Adams were the first Presidential couple to live in the Presidential Mansion in Washington, they didn't live there during the Revolution. Exactly zero thought had been given to a possible future capital for the new United States of America during the war, when the working capital was Philadelphia. Now, Abigail was John's full partner and a vital part of his career, but muddling the history like that just subtracts from the whole. There are other factual errors like that, and you will likely have your own "favorites."

That said, though, this is interesting, entertaining, and really doesn't pretend to be anything other than a brief introduction to the women. They're all potentially fascinating, and this is a great starting point if you're looking for a direction to go off in for further reading about trouble-making women in history.

I got this from Kindle Unlimited.