Women Warriors: A History, by David E. Jones, David E. Brassey’s, London and Washington, D.C., 1997, $24.95.
What better way to heat up the current controversy regarding women’s roles in the modern military than to produce a carefully documented, worldwide historical account of actual women warriors?
Author David E. Jones, a cultural anthropologist and teacher of the Japanese martial art aikido (and an avid Military History reader, judging from the number of articles from past issues that he includes in his bibliography), has entered the fray with a comprehensive collection of concise descriptions taken from historical accounts since the dawn of written history. And, not too surprisingly, he has found a rich and consistent presence of women in warfare, from the Syrian battle queen Bat Zabbai (known to her Roman adversaries as Zenobia) and the Indian rani of Jhansi in 1858, to the American soldiers of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 and those women involved in modern wars of independence in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Jones the anthropologist believes that society does not attribute “those human traits, pounded to purity in the fire of warfare, which all civilizations come to venerate–courage, honor, steadfastness, justice, toughness, loyalty, and, strange as it may seem, love” to women when their warrior tradition is ignored.
And we may all be the poorer for it.