Friday 24 February 2017

100 Women who Made History

100 Women who Made History by Stella Cladwell et al (DK/Penguin Random House) HB RRP $29.99 ISBN 9780241257241

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

Subtitled ‘Remarkable Women who shaped our world’, this is a handsome, thoroughly researched non-fiction book crammed with so many facts and figures presented in a beautifully designed book with hundreds of colour photographs and graphics and with many break-outs. It’s a book which doesn’t need to be read through from page one to the end, but one which can be dipped into again and again. It’s the sort of book a feminist would love and would love giving to children aged from 10 years and up.

I thought I knew my history of amazing women – and yet, reading this book, I have only a small knowledge. Opening at random, I find a double-page spread about two impressive females – one a child, the other a woman. Sophie Scholl was ‘an ordinary student who stood up to the might of Hitler and the Nazis’: she joined the Hitler Youth Movement but soon came to despise the hate-filled beliefs of the Nazis and helped to form the White Rose, a small non-violent movement that carried out a pamphlet and graffiti campaign against them. Sadly, she was sentenced to death for her ‘crime’ and executed. Pole Rosa Luxemburn was a radical, who tried to start a socialism revolution in post-war Germany, but she too was executed (without a trial) for her troubles.

There are dozens of women highlighted here. Some are well known, such as Rosa Parks, Aung San Suu Kyi, Malala Yousafzai, Angela Merkel, Joan of Arc and Catherine the Great. But there are others not so well known – Wu Zetian, Sacagawea, Maria Quiteria de Jesus, Shirin Ebadi, Ellen Johnson Sierleaf and Graca Machel to name but a few.

The book is divided into sections: Clued-Up Creatives, Super Scientists, Inspiring Campaigners, Leading Ladies, Intrepid Entrepreneurs and Amazing Achievers. If you cannot name at least five women in each of these categories, then you are strongly advised to buy a copy and learn about them before passing on the book (though you might very well want to keep it). Highly recommended!

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