Warrior Women: The Amazons of Dahomey and the Nature of War

By Robert B. Edgerton | Go to book overview

Introduction

John Keegan is one of the most respected military historians of our time with numerous books to his credit, including perhaps his most important one, A History of Warfare, published in 1993. This otherwise commendable exploration into many dimensions of war ends its opening chapter with the startling conclusion that although women are said sometimes to be able to become "messianic war leaders,"

warfare is, nevertheless, the one human activity from which women, with the most insignificant exceptions, have always and everywhere stood apart. Women look to men to protect them from danger, and bitterly reproach them when they fail as defenders. Women have followed the drum, nursed the wounded, tended the fields and herded the flocks when the man of the family has followed his leader, have even dug the trenches for men to defend and laboured in the workshops to send them their weapons. Women, however, do not fight. They rarely fight among themselves and they never, in any military sense, fight men. If warfare is as old as history and as universal as mankind, we must now enter the supremely important limitation that it is an entirely masculine activity.1

In that same year, another well-regarded historian, Martin Van Creveld of Hebrew University and a former Fellow of War Studies at King's College, Cambridge, agreed with Keegan: "Women have

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Warrior Women: The Amazons of Dahomey and the Nature of War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Amazons of Dahomey 11
  • 2 - The Kingdom of Dahomey 37
  • 3 - The Creation of Majesty 71
  • 4 - The Rise and Fall of the Women Warriors 95
  • 5 - Gender Hierarchies and Women in War 121
  • Notes 157
  • Bibliography 173
  • Index 187
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