Women Who Ruled – Claudia Gold

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Women’s history has always caught my interest and I picked this book up for £3 in The Works.

It is separated into 50 sub-chapters, each for a different prominent woman in history spanning 3500 years – women who have exercised power, directly or indirectly, throughout history.

They are very short essays and don’t fully discuss each woman resulting in some generalisations/ambiguities and uncertainties as Gold glosses over some stuff but the book is a great starting point for a someone interested in women’s history. It will pique your interest and inspire further reading.

These women were ‘poisoners’, ‘whores’, ‘witches’ and ‘murderers’ – or so their enemies claimed.

The sad fact is that many societies in the past had a visceral distaste of women in power, and many of the same issues still face women in power today.

Women can’t win! If you’re political, you’re a bitch. If you’re headstrong, you’re a shrew or a nag and are told to “calm down dear”. If you dress plainly you are ugly or dowdy. If you are pretty you are, at best, not taken seriously and criticised or, at worst, called a slut.

So these women’s successes were nothing short of remarkable. They rose to power and a lot of the time held on to it in the face of adversity and opposition. This books brings these women to life and gives them the limelight that they deserve. A great book to dip in and out of or to use as a starting point for women’s history studies.

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