As a general rule, I’m not a fan of non-fiction. However, I love mythology, and a happy aligning of events and moods meant that I walked away from my (more than) monthly trip to Waterstones with Amazons: The Real Warrior Women of the Ancient World by John Man. I confess I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. All the non-fiction books I’ve read thus far in my life have been textbooks or set reading for my university course and I think I enjoyed one or two of those textbooks across the entire life course of university (One was a book called Language and gender in the Fairytale Tradition: A linguistic analysis of old and new storytelling and it formed the basis of an essay I did really well on – so the moral is to write about things you enjoy!). Back to the Amazons, I figured it was a short book, and I didn’t have to finish if I didn’t enjoy.
As the Goodreads description is incredibly long, I have summarised the book briefly – it’s about “warrior” women through history and mythology, starting with the Greeks and the Amazons and how that story might have originated. Man moves through history, through first-hand accounts and what they might mean, to archaeological and anthropological evidence, moving forward in history, right up to World War II and to the invention of Wonder Woman, princess of the Amazons.
First off, this is definitely for a layperson interested in different aspects that make up history – it is not a distinctly archaeological text, nor just a study in classical literature and art. Amazons combines lots of different sources with a running commentary from John Man that can be downright hilarious at times, pointing out inaccuracies and absurdities with a dry wit. I found it really interesting, a few snapshots into a setting mythology and snapshots into what we know of a few tribes where equality seemed to be the norm rather than the exception.
Including references, this book is 301 pages long, so it’s not a crazy time investment and having to remember lots of different words and opinions ects. It’s short enough to be interesting and long enough to be informative. I picked this book up because I love Wonder Woman, and wanted to know a little more about the mythos of the Amazons, and while the Greek mythology was a little sparse in terms of actual stories about the mythological Amazons, I got a sweeping glance at women across time and continents.
I’m not entirely sure how to review non-fiction books. Amazons was interesting and made better by entertaining commentary. If you like the Amazons I’d recommend it. As it is, I have finished this book with a few items pulled from the bibliography. My colleague at work has already requested Amazons next, so I’ll drop it to her at work tomorrow.
I gave this 🐝🐝🐝🐝 on Goodreads.