This is exactly the sort of book I hope to share with my future children.
A collection of 40 mini-biographies of real women who made a different all over the world, throughout the history of humanity, I didn’t expect to read it all in one sitting. Yet, I couldn’t help myself. Rad Women Worldwide: Artists, Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History is the inspirational book I didn’t realize I needed in my own personal library.
In the Introduction, Kate Schatz explains what she means by “rad”:
[The biographies] tell about the lives and accomplishments of bold, brave women who lived awesome, exciting, revolutionary, historic, and world-changing lives — in other words, they’re rad.
With only 40 stories to tell, Schatz does a wonderful job cherry-picking a diverse group of women. From Enheduanna (2285-2250 BCE Mesopotamia) to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Born 1977 Nigeria), these pages tell the stories of women who fought for what they believe in on some level. The idea is to share a piece of the thousands of stories around the world that women can do things too– that women are also shaping history.
It’s hard to pick my favorite biography, as there are so many fascinating ones. I loved reading about Hypatia (Egypt) , Queen Lili’uokalani (Hawai’i) , Birute Mary Galdikas (Germany) and the ENIAC Programmers (USA). But the story that sticks out to me the most is that of Grace “Granuaile” O’Malley.
Whether or not these tales are true, historical records show that Grace O’Malley was a brave [Irish] sea captain, pirate, political strategist, chieftain, mother, wife, and daughter.
This woman is RAD. For example, when her son was falsely accused of treason Grace went to Queen Elizabeth to request she spare O’Malley’s son. Surprisingly, Elizabeth I did see Grace, and the two of them came to an agreement in Latin, the only language the two of them shared. #Badass.
Miriam Klein Stahl makes her mark easily identifiable as the illustrator of this book. Instead of photographs (as there don’t exist photographs of many of these women), Stahl created stylized renderings of these women creating extraordinary papercut illustrations. I would love to see these in real life. I certainly don’t have that kind of X-Actio knife skills.
The book ends with a note on the research to create this book. Schatz obviously put a lot of time and effort into researching these short biographies. She describes her research process, including using primary sources whenever available and her attempts to sort fact from fiction (a lot of these women became legends). The part I respect the most is that Schatz sent these stories to many of the still-living women to approve their own story, while family members and scholars reviewed the stories for those women no longer with us. For a collection of short biographies intended for younger readers, I did not expect this level of research. My hat is off to you, Kate Schatz.
Rad Women Worldwide follows Schatz’s previous book, Rad American Women A-Z; Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History… and our Future! I respect that Shatz, as an American author, started with what she knew. But it must have been obvious it wasn’t enough. Even the addition of this book didn’t begin to cover everything either. The end of Rad Women Worldwide contains a list of 250 more women Schatz encourages us to learn about from the 200 countries of the world. I know that I’ll be looking into learning more about many of these women.
In this end, this was educational, fun, and an inspiring read. As I mentioned at the beginning, I never expected to read this book in one sitting, but I couldn’t stop reading. Honestly, my only criticism is that the title is needlessly long. That’s it. I strongly recommend it to anyone interesting in feminism or biographies.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.