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Who Cooked the Last Supper?: The Women's History of the World

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Men dominate history because they write it. Women’s vital part in the shaping of the world has been consistently undervalued or ignored. Rosalind Miles now offers a fundamental reappraisal that sets the record straight. Stunning in its scope and originality, The Women’s History of the World challenges all previous world histories and shatters cherished illusions on every p Men dominate history because they write it. Women’s vital part in the shaping of the world has been consistently undervalued or ignored. Rosalind Miles now offers a fundamental reappraisal that sets the record straight. Stunning in its scope and originality, The Women’s History of the World challenges all previous world histories and shatters cherished illusions on every page. Starting with women in pre-history the author looks beyond the myth of ‘Man the Hunter’ to reveal women’s central role in the survival and evolution of the human race. She follows their progress from the days when God was a woman through to the triumphs of the Amazons and Assyrian war queens: she looks at the rise of organised religion and the growing oppression of women: she charts the long slow struggle for women’s rights culminating in the twentieth century women’s movements: and finally she presents a vision of women breaking free. This brilliant and absorbing book turns the spotlight on the hidden side of history to present a fascinating new view of the world, overturning our preconceptions to restore women to their rightful place at the centre of the worldwide story of revolution, empire, war and peace. Spiced with tales of individual women who have shaped history, celebrating the work and lives of the unsung female millions, distinguished by a wealth of research, The Women’s History of the World redefines the concept of historical reality.


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Men dominate history because they write it. Women’s vital part in the shaping of the world has been consistently undervalued or ignored. Rosalind Miles now offers a fundamental reappraisal that sets the record straight. Stunning in its scope and originality, The Women’s History of the World challenges all previous world histories and shatters cherished illusions on every p Men dominate history because they write it. Women’s vital part in the shaping of the world has been consistently undervalued or ignored. Rosalind Miles now offers a fundamental reappraisal that sets the record straight. Stunning in its scope and originality, The Women’s History of the World challenges all previous world histories and shatters cherished illusions on every page. Starting with women in pre-history the author looks beyond the myth of ‘Man the Hunter’ to reveal women’s central role in the survival and evolution of the human race. She follows their progress from the days when God was a woman through to the triumphs of the Amazons and Assyrian war queens: she looks at the rise of organised religion and the growing oppression of women: she charts the long slow struggle for women’s rights culminating in the twentieth century women’s movements: and finally she presents a vision of women breaking free. This brilliant and absorbing book turns the spotlight on the hidden side of history to present a fascinating new view of the world, overturning our preconceptions to restore women to their rightful place at the centre of the worldwide story of revolution, empire, war and peace. Spiced with tales of individual women who have shaped history, celebrating the work and lives of the unsung female millions, distinguished by a wealth of research, The Women’s History of the World redefines the concept of historical reality.

30 review for Who Cooked the Last Supper?: The Women's History of the World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carly

    Overall, this book was full of interesting information, stories & facts. Unfortunately, the interesting bits could have been strung together much more artfully, and with a more nuanced perspective on race and colonialism. I couldn't help but notice that this women's history was primarily a history of white women, though Miles never explicitly says this. Women of color are discussed throughout, but predominantly as an afterthought. This is most noticeable when Miles discusses what it was like to Overall, this book was full of interesting information, stories & facts. Unfortunately, the interesting bits could have been strung together much more artfully, and with a more nuanced perspective on race and colonialism. I couldn't help but notice that this women's history was primarily a history of white women, though Miles never explicitly says this. Women of color are discussed throughout, but predominantly as an afterthought. This is most noticeable when Miles discusses what it was like to be the wife of a colonizer and, after waxing poetic on their troubles, finally gets to discussing the brutality and degradation that the colonized face, but only discusses the women affected briefly. Most importantly, though, her conception of first world v.s. third world/Western v.s. Eastern is mind-blowingly condescending. She explicitly says in the introduction that "Western" women are much better off than "Eastern" women, and here is why, and here's what "Western" women should do to help. This sort of white savior thinking is oddly less present in the main text of the book, but Miles' strong tendency to gloss over the roles of racism and orientalism (if not outright ignore them) on women's lives is unmistakably thread throughout. In short, not all women are white women, and Miles ability to conceptualize & tell the stories of women all around the world without subtly (and explicitly) prioritizing the experiences of white, "Western" women, was lacking. Overall, I'd recommend reading through this book for the facts and primary accounts of women throughout history - it is truly fascinating, and I look forward to digging into her list of references for more reading. Please skip the introduction - it's worthless. And if you really want an even-handed history of women around the world, this isn't the place to find it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Patterson

    Every girl, and every boy, should have to read this as a textbook at school. Women have changed the world. Someone's just forgotten to write it down.This is one of my top 3 books of all time. It is entertaining, horrifying, unbelievable and well-researched. Women need to take back the power that patriarchal society and religion has taken from them. Miles does not flinch as she unravels a history that too few know about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Book-Bosomed blog

    I’m going to tackle this one a little differently, but hopefully this format will be most helpful... 4.5 Stars Who should read this book? (view spoiler)[Everyone! And especially the ones who think this book does not pertain to them. ;-) (hide spoiler)] If you're still not convinced, it's Women's History Month so take a chance. Genre: Non-fiction/World History/ Women’s History/Gender Studies What does this book cover? This book is organized into 4 sections with 3 chapters each. Part one (“In the B I’m going to tackle this one a little differently, but hopefully this format will be most helpful... 4.5 Stars Who should read this book? (view spoiler)[Everyone! And especially the ones who think this book does not pertain to them. ;-) (hide spoiler)] If you're still not convinced, it's Women's History Month so take a chance. Genre: Non-fiction/World History/ Women’s History/Gender Studies What does this book cover? This book is organized into 4 sections with 3 chapters each. Part one (“In the Beginning”) covers “the first women”—detailing prehistoric women’s roles and importance; “the great goddess”—discussing early women centric beliefs; and “the rise of the Phallus”—discussing sexuality and setting the stage for the overthrown of female rights, bloodlines, and worship. Part two (“The Fall of Woman”) covers “God the father”—documenting how the organization of monotheist religions established unequal balances of power; “the sins of the Mothers”—exposing the abuses inflicted upon women because of their bodies; and “a little learning”—exploring how the development of literacy offered escapes as well as further suppression of women. Part three (“Dominion and Domination”) covers “women’s work” —exposing the myth that women not only did less “work” than men but also the difficulty and unpleasantness of much of her manual labor; “revolution, the great engine” —looking at distinctly different types of revolutions yet how they both failed to usurp the status quo; and “the rod of empire” —exposing how imperialism further served to oppress and abuse women and extend the patriarchy. Part four (“Turning the Tide”) covers “the rights of women” —discussing the modern developments that continues to oppress women and the beginnings of the women’s movement; ”the body politic” —discussing the role of contraception; and “daughters of time” —further detailing the advancement of contraception as well as the strides of the second wave of the women’s movement. Triggers: Religion—readers who are unwilling to see past the inherent misogyny in major world religions will have issues with this. My advice to readers—keep an open mind and check your own affiliations at the door. Abuse—physical, psychological, sexual; you name it, it’s documented here. Violence including rape, genital mutilation, female infanticide, and murder. Oh and some ridiculous contraception ideas. It’s not pretty, but it’s women’s history without all the whitewashing. My advice to readers—bring tissues and don’t eat lunch first. Controversies: At times, does the author belittle and reduce the importance men played in not just history but the advancement of the human race? Absolutely, but isn’t that what traditional history has done to women? Until an edition of world history where the sexes are presented equally becomes the mainstream text, readers are going to have to accept that as long as sexism exists a universal human history is out of reach. Historical Accuracy: I am not a historian so I can’t comment on the complete accuracy of every incident and historical event referenced in this text. However, I think an objective historian would agree (and many have) that a vast number of history texts out there aren’t accurate either, whether through omissions, hero-making, and/or outright misrepresentations. It’s interesting though how those texts were accepted for so long, yet let a women offer up a book on history that proposes that it was the female of the species who had the greatest role in the continuation of the human race, and so much of her credibility and the credibility of the text is called into question. It is also interesting disturbing how some readers see bias in this work but not the work of the male dominated texts on the market and utilized in the public school systems. That alone says a lot about the extent that sexism is so subconsciously rooted in society. We’ve somehow been trained to accept HIStory but not hers. And this is a large problem which I believe the text addresses. History has been shaped and documented through various fields of study where women were not only ignored and dismissed but consciously omitted by men in favor of a pro-male view where man is more important to the survival of human kind than women. Accepted history texts lack the incorporation of women’s role, if not their very existence, throughout places in history. Once you accept that women and their story have been suppressed, one must pose the next logical question of why. Miles attempts to answer this. Shortcomings: There are certainly places in the text where sources and exact time periods could be clearer in a wider context and background, as well as a fuller picture of the examples would be beneficial. The author assumes the reader has a developed formal education and prior knowledge of people, incidents, and events in history. There are admittedly also places where Miles’s word choice might be going for effect but at the same time distorts her claims. For example, a good editor might have recommended that she substitute “only” with “largely” when referring to Jackie O and Lady Di’s fame and accomplishments via their “royal” men. Were their life’s accomplishments solely tied to their husbands? No. But would they be the historical icons they are had they not married those men in the first place? Nope. In another instance, replacing “no” with “minimal” when asserting men’s function and significance under Goddess culture might be help avoid the obvious contradiction that comes a few paragraphs/pages later. How I felt reading this book: Some chapters made me feel proud to be a woman and inspired to work towards advancing equality. Some chapters made me angry—the injustices, the abuses—it’s a gut-wrenching history pill to swallow. Some chapters l was holding back the tears. This isn’t a light read nor should the subject matter be taken lightly, but it is important to understand. "In the whole of the vast fun-house of history's jokes and tricks, there can be few greater ironies than the spectacle of women embracing and furthering systems that would all too soon attack their autonomy, crush their individuality and undermine the very reason for their existence" (Miles 89). Is this a feminist text? By definition (cited here from Merriam-Webster dictionary) and largely from a scholarly theorist perspective feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes as well as organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests.” This book offer theories (along with and backed by research from various fields of study) of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes so in that frame of reference it’s a feminist text. But bear in mind that over the years the term feminism has taken on a variety of negative connotations (often the work of its opposition in an attempt to discredit it), but I’m not going to give recognition to those distortions. Why this text is still relevant: "Millions of women who publicly disclaim feminism have nevertheless reached out with both hands for the chance it has opened up for them (Miles 10). The lack of a women’s history or women studies discipline in general education curriculums have left a large crux of 21st century women and men uninformed and misinformed. And though originally published in 1988, and thus the last nearly thirty years are not included, this book not only documents women’s struggles through the ages, but also points to issues still at the forefront today. Women and men living in 2017 should possess a basic understanding of how history has swayed backwards and forward through slow transitions and difficult strides towards equality. We can’t assume that because it’s been won, that it can’t be taken away. From the very beginning of time, women weren’t affronted with inequality; instead they descended to it. Many rights that were won in the 20th century were given freely in earlier civilizations. Women’s equality has not historically been a linear progression, but more a series of setbacks and advances as societal conditions change. Women’s oppression, while universal and unrelenting for millenniums, varies widely by class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion. There is no one answer to fix all ills. “Every country held, too, peculiar challenges for feminism; the struggle worldwide consisted not of imposing a set of general principals from nation to nation, but of winning what could be won from local conditions and national conventions” (Miles 240). Bottom Line /Hard Truths: If you are looking for a fluff piece highlighting well known women through the ages, this is not one of them. This text looks at historical trends and attempts to offer viable explanations (through what little evidence and unbiased scholarship there is on certain time frames) as to not just what women were doing while men were getting all the credit, but why they were omitted in the first place. And I suspect that might be what some readers struggle with—the idea that it became a conscious effort to suppress women’s voices and women’s contributions. It’s mind boggling really that one can acknowledge women’s absence from traditional text but still refuse to admit there is a long standing patriarchal bias that made it that way in the first place. It’s as if some readers want to know what’s missing but don’t want to face the disturbing realities of its absence. How I got this book/Why I read this book/My background: I ordered this book (paperback edition) from Amazon after browsing several books on the subject for consideration for my kids’ educational studies. I read it first and made a chapter by chapter study guide for our lessons. I have a background in English literature with a concentration in women’s literature and feminist criticism so the general subject matter wasn’t previously unfamiliar, but I still found the details moving and the overall thesis an enlightening and essential read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    El

    No, really, who did cook the Last Supper? Okay, spoiler-alert. You don't actually find out who cooked the Last Supper. Bummer, I know. But that's not really the point. The point is that women have been a part of the historical landscape across the world for-freaking-ever, and no one really thinks about it that much because, well, they're not really portrayed that often in the Bible as any central characters - they're just slaves and whores and shit. And so often the history books (written by a bu No, really, who did cook the Last Supper? Okay, spoiler-alert. You don't actually find out who cooked the Last Supper. Bummer, I know. But that's not really the point. The point is that women have been a part of the historical landscape across the world for-freaking-ever, and no one really thinks about it that much because, well, they're not really portrayed that often in the Bible as any central characters - they're just slaves and whores and shit. And so often the history books (written by a bunch of white men) remove the true history of a lot of the world's famous women because, as I've stated before, strong, infamous women are super scary and are basically witches, so they cannot be trusted. Rosalind Miles is a wickedly smart woman who wanted to give voice to the many women that history has ignored. It's not just a bunch of name-dropping, which I found to be a relief, because I didn't want a book-formatted Wikipedia article about a bunch of women. I wanted to know about them, yes, but also what they were up against, what they accomplished, why are they ignored so much in our society even today, and what can we do about that. And in that vein, Miles came through for me. (Because it's about me. It's always about me.) As a self-proclaimed well-read woman myself, I like to think I have a finger on the pulse of a lot of quality information about women in history and shit, but even so I learned a lot from reading this book. Unfortunately it was long overdue at the library and so I no longer have a copy of the book here in front of me to be able to pinpoint some of the more interesting things I learned, but let it be known that I appreciated this book and felt okay with the fact that I held onto it like a week or two longer than I should have. I've had overdue library books before, but I can't remember the last time I actually got a reminder email saying "No, really, this book is overdue, will you please return it" (albeit in nicer librarial terms than that). Eventually I will even go back and pay the library overdue fee. Lazy-butt, here. This should be read by everyone - not just women, but men too, because it's not just all about you guys, there's this whole other accomplished population out here and we shouldn't be ignored, not because we are witches and will hurt you, but because we're also humans and we have voices and talents and thoughts and valid beliefs. We're not as scary as everyone likes to make us out to be.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    2 stars An outdated, white-feminist history of the world heavy influenced by the author's belief in a bullshit, disproved, mythology of of a prehistoric matriarchal utopia. Gets more interesting (but also more western-focused) as it reaches the more modern sections dealing with women's suffrage and contraceptive rights. There is a lot of bad history here, a number of factual mistakes, cultural ignorance, and a lack of intersectinslity. BUT, I do appreciate that this was written back in 1988 (makin 2 stars An outdated, white-feminist history of the world heavy influenced by the author's belief in a bullshit, disproved, mythology of of a prehistoric matriarchal utopia. Gets more interesting (but also more western-focused) as it reaches the more modern sections dealing with women's suffrage and contraceptive rights. There is a lot of bad history here, a number of factual mistakes, cultural ignorance, and a lack of intersectinslity. BUT, I do appreciate that this was written back in 1988 (making it the same age as me) and is in most ways a product of it's time. Thankfully the discourse around these issues has changed hugely within my lifetime. While all that makes this book an interesting one to read for someone interested in history, feminism, and the history of the feminist movement, it doesn't actually make it a good history book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    Already in the introduction, there are some ridiculous passages about how, unlike women, male black slaves weren't raped (sis...), and neither were men during the Bosnian genocide (have I got news for YOU). She engages in some oppression Olympics ("the Taliban laws for women were worse than the Nazi laws for Jews!"). And weirdly dismisses the achievements of Jacqueline Onassis and Lady Di as "famous only through the men they married, and not for any talent of their own" (direct quote). Listen, I Already in the introduction, there are some ridiculous passages about how, unlike women, male black slaves weren't raped (sis...), and neither were men during the Bosnian genocide (have I got news for YOU). She engages in some oppression Olympics ("the Taliban laws for women were worse than the Nazi laws for Jews!"). And weirdly dismisses the achievements of Jacqueline Onassis and Lady Di as "famous only through the men they married, and not for any talent of their own" (direct quote). Listen, I'm no Jackie or Diana fangirl, but even I know that Jacqueline did REMARKABLE work during her brief period as First Lady, entirely remaking the White House as a sort of living museum and collecting and preserving historically significant pieces of American history (she made a whole campaign of it!). She also changed the way diplomatic receptions were held in the White House (and, of course, she was an apt diplomat herself) and was a patron of American arts. And later in life she also had her own publishing house. And Diana, do I even have to mention her activism?? Like do you know how many people she helped and how many causes she fought for?? The author also subscribes to the myth of the prehistorical matriarchy. You know, the hippie belief that in the Stone Age women were footloose and fancy-free, and "God was a woman". There is some very shallow picking and choosing of "evidence" with no real context for the societies, everything is mixed in order to support this thesis but you finish reading and you won't really know anything new about any of the subjects. I want to read a women's history of the world, but this clearly isn't it. (Probably because the author isn't a historian, but an English scholar)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I think those who have claimed this book as biased are missing the forest for the trees. Of course it's biased. It's called "The Women's History of the World." Most accounts of history are biased in some form or another. This book is mild in its bias; I've read other books that are far more scathing of the opposition. That said, this was refreshing in its unforgiving nature. It's made me look at all accounts of history with a sharper eye. For example, just last night, after finishing this book, I think those who have claimed this book as biased are missing the forest for the trees. Of course it's biased. It's called "The Women's History of the World." Most accounts of history are biased in some form or another. This book is mild in its bias; I've read other books that are far more scathing of the opposition. That said, this was refreshing in its unforgiving nature. It's made me look at all accounts of history with a sharper eye. For example, just last night, after finishing this book, I was watching a historical documentary on the Greeks. The only time women were even mentioned were to say that they were banned from participating and even watching in the Olympic Games. A single woman was mentioned later (they didn't even give us her name, for goodness sake): she was "given" to the Spartan king by her husband (an aristocrat trying to win favor), which helped him seal the Spartan's help in seizing the throne in Athens from another monarch. (This was on Netflix--The Greeks: The Crucible of Civilization narrated by Liam Neeson.)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Fatima

    I had one reservation about the book that stopped me from giving it the five stars that it deserves. In the chapter about religion as a form of oppression against women, the author had taken quotes and stories from Islam out of context, and without any evidence, using it to prove her point. As a Muslim, I can only speak about Islam, however it seemed that author was blatantly against any form of religion and made it her mission to talk about how it oppressed women. I became skeptical of most of I had one reservation about the book that stopped me from giving it the five stars that it deserves. In the chapter about religion as a form of oppression against women, the author had taken quotes and stories from Islam out of context, and without any evidence, using it to prove her point. As a Muslim, I can only speak about Islam, however it seemed that author was blatantly against any form of religion and made it her mission to talk about how it oppressed women. I became skeptical of most of her arguments. Nevertheless, I took it not with a grain, but a handful of a salt. The author did make some interesting and valid points throughout the rest of the book. I thought individual women's stories would be told, however the author's portrayal of women collectively, made it easy to understand the context of history with women's roles finally being acknowledged.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

    I have always believed in equal rights/opportunites for everyone, regardless of race or gender, but I have never been a raging feminist. I felt like one when reading this book!! It made me so proud to be a woman, so appreciative of those that came and fought before me... It was nice to see what all (in a nutshell) women have contributed to mankind's society and culture.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Toria Burrell-Hrencecin

    This spoke to me more than I expected it would. It revealed alot of fascinating history that I knew very little about. It also profoundly influenced and solidified my views of religion. It's the sort of thought provoking book that I wish everyone would read, especially intelligent women. Surprisingly, it does not contradict the philosophy of Ayn Rand (whose writing I discovered at the same time as reading this book). Infact it compliments it. Rosalind Miles is a "feminist" but so was Ayn Rand (i This spoke to me more than I expected it would. It revealed alot of fascinating history that I knew very little about. It also profoundly influenced and solidified my views of religion. It's the sort of thought provoking book that I wish everyone would read, especially intelligent women. Surprisingly, it does not contradict the philosophy of Ayn Rand (whose writing I discovered at the same time as reading this book). Infact it compliments it. Rosalind Miles is a "feminist" but so was Ayn Rand (in a different way). Rosalind Miles is an atheist (and so was Ayn Rand). I read "Atlas Shrugged" immediately after this book, and was fascinated by the similarities in philosophy. This book is very well written, witty, funny, enjoyable to read, as well as very well researched

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    Hands down the most entertaining and illuminating book I've read on women's history. I have gone back to it often & highly recommend it. Read it with a highlighter in hand if you are a history buff, you will find many women's lives vibrantly outlined here and you'll want to explore some in more detail. A far reaching view of human history from women's perspective. Miles' generous humour is peppered throughout making this a fun read - and so a terrific book for the young feminists (of any gender) Hands down the most entertaining and illuminating book I've read on women's history. I have gone back to it often & highly recommend it. Read it with a highlighter in hand if you are a history buff, you will find many women's lives vibrantly outlined here and you'll want to explore some in more detail. A far reaching view of human history from women's perspective. Miles' generous humour is peppered throughout making this a fun read - and so a terrific book for the young feminists (of any gender) in our lives. "Women are the greatest race of underdogs the world has ever known" - Rosalind Miles

  12. 5 out of 5

    Aljoša

    Let me start by quoting Rosalind Miles: "Yet some would say, why women's history at all? Surely men and women have always shared a world, and suffered together all its rights and wrongs? It is a common belief that whatever the situation, both sexes faced it alike. But the male peasant, however cruelly oppressed, always had the right to beat his wife. The black slave had to labor for the white master by day, but he did not have to service him by night as well. This grim pattern continues to this Let me start by quoting Rosalind Miles: "Yet some would say, why women's history at all? Surely men and women have always shared a world, and suffered together all its rights and wrongs? It is a common belief that whatever the situation, both sexes faced it alike. But the male peasant, however cruelly oppressed, always had the right to beat his wife. The black slave had to labor for the white master by day, but he did not have to service him by night as well. This grim pattern continues to this day, with women bearing an extra ration of pain and misery whatever the circumstances, as the sufferings of the women of war torn Eastern Europe will testify. While their men fought and died, wholesale and systematic rape—often accompanied by the same torture and death that the men suffered— was a fate only women had to endure. Women's history springs from moments of recognition such as this, and the awareness of the difference is still very new. Only in our time have historians begun to look at the historical experience of men and women separately, and to acknowledge that for most of our human past, women's interests have been opposed to those of men. Women's interests have been opposed by them, too: men have not willingly extended to women the rights and freedoms they have claimed for themselves. As a result, historical advances have tended to be "men only" affairs. When history concentrates solely on one half of the human race, any alternative truth or reality is lost. Men dominate history because they write it, and their accounts of active, brave, clever or aggressive females constantly tend to sentimentalize, to mythologize or to pull women back to some perceived "norm." As a result, much of the so-called historical record is simply untrue." First, I certainly hope that I'm not the only man who's read this book. Everyone should read it. This book really shines light onto the matter, in a much better an explicit way than any other book did before. It's interesting to see how the men, little by little, step by step rose to power while putting the women down just so that they can prove that they are more "superior". I think I have an idea for another speech on gender equality.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susanj

    Cannot recommend this book enough! STRONGLY RECOMMEND. It will be required reading for my daughters once they are older. Is it always easy to read? Nope. Saw a review that was less than favorable, claiming it was depressing, and Ms. Miles detailing of FGM made them want to get sick. To that I say- "I'd hope so." It is 2014 and it is too late in the history of the world to close our eyes to the very real atrocities that continue to go on. FGM, gender selective abortions, female infanticide, domes Cannot recommend this book enough! STRONGLY RECOMMEND. It will be required reading for my daughters once they are older. Is it always easy to read? Nope. Saw a review that was less than favorable, claiming it was depressing, and Ms. Miles detailing of FGM made them want to get sick. To that I say- "I'd hope so." It is 2014 and it is too late in the history of the world to close our eyes to the very real atrocities that continue to go on. FGM, gender selective abortions, female infanticide, domestic violence, and more continue to go on all over the globe. Dramatic? Disturbing? Yuh- Saw a review that claimed that not all was factual. Huh. Well don't know if all but I sure as hell know a lot of it is, and it lets me know that there's still a lot of work to be done. 140 million women are alive today, in 2014, who have suffered FGM. That alone, tells me that more attention needs to be brought to women. Whether it's through Who Cooked The Last Supper, Half The Sky, or diligent searching in the news. I write a blog, Sadie's Gathering that I post "a little dab of this and a little dash of that." It's eclectic, but I do my best to increase awareness on issues that affect women; thus all of us. Stop by if you think it might be your cup of tea. www.sadiesgathering.blogspot.com

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Great breakdown of the history of women from a woman's perspective. A great reminder to take historical texts with the grain of salt of their predominately patriarchal bias! But the biases within Miles' work are also clear and sometimes glaring; she is a British white woman and the text illuminates that. Especially in the later chapters, the focus is mostly on white women with women of color as an after thought, or very generalized. The anti-religious bias (particularly anti-Muslim bias) is glar Great breakdown of the history of women from a woman's perspective. A great reminder to take historical texts with the grain of salt of their predominately patriarchal bias! But the biases within Miles' work are also clear and sometimes glaring; she is a British white woman and the text illuminates that. Especially in the later chapters, the focus is mostly on white women with women of color as an after thought, or very generalized. The anti-religious bias (particularly anti-Muslim bias) is glaring, especially when talking about Muslim, and especially veiled Muslim, women with very little context. Context is also missing when Miles talks about ritual human sacrifice, implying that it is always a very bad unwanted thing which, historically, is not necessarily true. Miles also takes the work of black feminist scholars out of context and applies it to all (read: white) women in a way that is wildly inappropriate. If only I had read this for a class in college, I'm clearly itching to write a paper about it. OVERALL: interesting and illuminating read!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Allie

    Oh boy. RTC once I’m no longer fuming (spoiler alert: there are so many historical inaccuracies in this book which, yeah, while I understand it’s nearly 30 years out of date, are inaccuracies that come from deliberate misquotation of sources, repetition of myths without concrete evidence, and the construction of a historical argument based on said inaccuracies which do the unfortunate job of turning a fascinating argument based on 60% truth into one that’s VERY difficult to take seriously becaus Oh boy. RTC once I’m no longer fuming (spoiler alert: there are so many historical inaccuracies in this book which, yeah, while I understand it’s nearly 30 years out of date, are inaccuracies that come from deliberate misquotation of sources, repetition of myths without concrete evidence, and the construction of a historical argument based on said inaccuracies which do the unfortunate job of turning a fascinating argument based on 60% truth into one that’s VERY difficult to take seriously because of the 40% that’s blatantly false, a stretch, or else an oversimplification)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    i am very conflicted about this book. it had phenomenal quotes and examples and, although i consider myself well educated about feminism, so much i did not know. that being said, it was a trial to read. it was so dense and written rather pretentiously, which led me to skim the latter half of the book. because of the density, i’m worried the examples won’t stick with me as well. that being said, i really liked how well researched it was!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This may be the most unorganized, poorly thought-through book I've ever read. That would sum up my review, but I feel that I should be more descriptive. When I bought this book, what I thought I was getting was a look behind the male-centric view of history. The title seemed to be saying this...and even the back says "Here is the history you never learned--but should have." But this isn't the book I got. Instead I got a rant of epic proportions using carefully and selectively chosen research loose This may be the most unorganized, poorly thought-through book I've ever read. That would sum up my review, but I feel that I should be more descriptive. When I bought this book, what I thought I was getting was a look behind the male-centric view of history. The title seemed to be saying this...and even the back says "Here is the history you never learned--but should have." But this isn't the book I got. Instead I got a rant of epic proportions using carefully and selectively chosen research loosely strung together using in chapters that only differed in content by the heading. Often I would find myself reading on a subject and think "Oh, I thought I finished this chapter" only to look up and see indeed I had. The chapter title had changed but the subject matter hadn't. In a chapter seemingly on "Women and Empire" and supposedly about how women during the age of colonialism fared (both native and colonial), women who ran bordellos in America's wild west were discussed...at length. Also the author seems convinced that men have conspiratorial cabal lasting centuries to think of ways to enslave women. I don't doubt that men have gained, but I really doubt that there were meetings of "hey, let's get rid of these mother goddess and get a guy as the head god." Unfortunately, the way it's told here, it seems to be a conscious effort, put in place specifically to enslave women. There's plenty to be angry about in world history if you're a woman, we don't need to be looking for conspiracies and the New World Order. By the end, I just felt yelled at by a crazy drunk on the street. Sure, he might have something interesting to say, but there's no following his train of thought, and in the end...why bother? The sad thing is that I still want to read the book that I thought I bought, and I would catch small vignettes of interesting details...then she'd go off again. Women's history is a vibrant and much needed area of study. This book does it no favors.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Spuddie

    Nonfiction history, from ancient to modern times, as it relates to women’s place in history. Spans the gamut from religious to political history, and this book is difficult to read without getting quite angry at times, me being a woman and all, and a majority of the book being about how women have been second-class citizens since, as the author wryly puts it, ‘the rise of the phallus.’ Viewed as simply man’s property for much of recorded history, women have had to fight tooth and nail for basic Nonfiction history, from ancient to modern times, as it relates to women’s place in history. Spans the gamut from religious to political history, and this book is difficult to read without getting quite angry at times, me being a woman and all, and a majority of the book being about how women have been second-class citizens since, as the author wryly puts it, ‘the rise of the phallus.’ Viewed as simply man’s property for much of recorded history, women have had to fight tooth and nail for basic human rights. This is a glimpse into how things were through time, from the beginning (when women were revered) and with specific views at different cultures and microcosms. Also points out notable exceptions to the rule of the day, wherever and whenever that might be, with information about various “famous women” but also about how things were for the ‘average Jane’ of the times. I learned a lot reading this book, but despite the author’s attempts at injecting some humor into it, I did read it in small bits rather than devour it in large chunks as it tended to get quite dry in places. A very worthwhile read, though.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    Miles undertakes a worthy and epic project, but unfortunately is not up to the task. As history, it's a mess. In her defense, some of the data on early "matriarchies" has only come to light since the book was originally published. However, Miles quotes Merlin Stone and Robert Graves to demonstrate history! She truly believes chastity belts were used in the middle ages. This is some very lazy fact checking or willful ignorance. The book uses a parallelism approach that hasn't been in vogue since Miles undertakes a worthy and epic project, but unfortunately is not up to the task. As history, it's a mess. In her defense, some of the data on early "matriarchies" has only come to light since the book was originally published. However, Miles quotes Merlin Stone and Robert Graves to demonstrate history! She truly believes chastity belts were used in the middle ages. This is some very lazy fact checking or willful ignorance. The book uses a parallelism approach that hasn't been in vogue since the 60s (this book was published in 1988). Miles cherry picks her facts. She includes extraneous details in a book that really can't afford them. She also make many assertions that she fails to back up in the slightest. It was entertaining, but not useful as history.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aelya Salman

    Still on the process of reading this book, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Aside from her painful writing style; the author barely tries to hide her biases and does little to conceal her lack of education in the realm of race and other cultures. I can only speak to the intersections in which I exist, but her sections on Islam were laughable. I wouldn’t even consider myself particularly textbook religious, but having engaged with Islamic texts my whole life and having exposure t Still on the process of reading this book, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Aside from her painful writing style; the author barely tries to hide her biases and does little to conceal her lack of education in the realm of race and other cultures. I can only speak to the intersections in which I exist, but her sections on Islam were laughable. I wouldn’t even consider myself particularly textbook religious, but having engaged with Islamic texts my whole life and having exposure to the nuances of Islam (and it’s seemingly infinite manifestations around the globe), Miles comes up short in her quest to somehow prove misogyny as an inherent tenet of the faith. This is not to say that misogyny within Islam, Muslim communities, or Muslim countries does not exist. It does and it’s rampant- as it is just about everywhere else on planet earth. She also speaks of Islam as though it is uniformly practiced everywhere when that can’t be further from the truth. Overall, the whole book screams of “yeah all women have it tough but damn it must suck to be a woman from [insert name of non-white country]!” Africa was also referred to as a country. Yikes.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Avid

    Some of the information and insights are 5-star-worthy. But you sort of have to wade through to encounter them. It would be nice if the reading experience were a bit less burdensome. Also, as another reviewer mentioned, women of color are generally given short shrift in this one. It’s not until the last chapter or two that the author even acknowledges the vast difference between the white and black experience in terms of women’s history. Despite its shortcomings, i still recommend this one for i Some of the information and insights are 5-star-worthy. But you sort of have to wade through to encounter them. It would be nice if the reading experience were a bit less burdensome. Also, as another reviewer mentioned, women of color are generally given short shrift in this one. It’s not until the last chapter or two that the author even acknowledges the vast difference between the white and black experience in terms of women’s history. Despite its shortcomings, i still recommend this one for its important contributions to the discussion of how we got to where we are in gender equality efforts (or lack thereof), and how far we still have to go.

  22. 5 out of 5

    David

    It was a good book my wife recommended I read. It could easily be several volumes were it not just an introduction to the history of women, but it was worthwhile read. Unsurprisingly, there is a huge amount of oppression, misogyny, and dominion in this history, the parts about genital mutilation and other forms of torture were very graphic and horrific. There seemed to be no end of justifications why women shouldn't have rights that were first enforced through religion, and then sham 'science,' It was a good book my wife recommended I read. It could easily be several volumes were it not just an introduction to the history of women, but it was worthwhile read. Unsurprisingly, there is a huge amount of oppression, misogyny, and dominion in this history, the parts about genital mutilation and other forms of torture were very graphic and horrific. There seemed to be no end of justifications why women shouldn't have rights that were first enforced through religion, and then sham 'science,' with dire consequences of what would have happened to humans if they achieved them (the very extinction of mankind itself)! I'm beginning to ramble, so that's a sign I should probably bring it to a close, but I'll add this last bit: it seems as though religious traditions the world over have a great deal of explaining to do in regards to the subjection or debasement of women as a whole, and some (most?) will be very surprised to learn what early church patriarchs said about women... Yeah you, Luther, Augustine, Jerome, Tertullian, Mohammed, and Buddha.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Madison

    First and foremost: any book that says it's the women's history of the world should be a hell of a lot bigger than this. Second, I really wanted to like this book. This is exactly the sort of book I want: the glimpses of women in between what men have told us about history. However, the language, the assumptions, the complete binary thinking used here made it horrible for me. There were tons of interesting tidbits, but I'd rather have one of those little fact books than sift through this for the First and foremost: any book that says it's the women's history of the world should be a hell of a lot bigger than this. Second, I really wanted to like this book. This is exactly the sort of book I want: the glimpses of women in between what men have told us about history. However, the language, the assumptions, the complete binary thinking used here made it horrible for me. There were tons of interesting tidbits, but I'd rather have one of those little fact books than sift through this for the gems. Definitely a second wave feminist work, not what I was expecting (partially my own fault). Might come back some day and give it another try, but after reading some great nonfiction about amazing women in history, this just fell so flat.

  24. 4 out of 5

    JenniferRuth

    A book that I would recommend to anyone - it tells the story of women, something that even to this day is remarkably scarce in our culture. It is both inspiring and horrifying. It certainly makes the reader want to push harder for a better future and to have pride in the sacrifices that women have made before us in order to create our present. My only criticism is that this book is too small to really tell the whole story. Often I felt I wanted to learn more, but the chapters were poorly referen A book that I would recommend to anyone - it tells the story of women, something that even to this day is remarkably scarce in our culture. It is both inspiring and horrifying. It certainly makes the reader want to push harder for a better future and to have pride in the sacrifices that women have made before us in order to create our present. My only criticism is that this book is too small to really tell the whole story. Often I felt I wanted to learn more, but the chapters were poorly referenced so it was difficult to look at the bibliography and find what I wanted. This book probably deserves to be a multi-volume set. I would recommend this book to both men and women.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Heathen

    Incredibly infuriating. It was unfathomable how many emotions I went through reading this. There is quite a flurry of information to digest...but of course that's why it's called the Women's History of the World. I would certainly suggest this to any empowered female...and especially those that need empowering. Every female can benefit from a little rage now & then to remind them what they are capable of. This book ctually kicked-off a reading frenzy one weekend. I devoured 4 books of comparable Incredibly infuriating. It was unfathomable how many emotions I went through reading this. There is quite a flurry of information to digest...but of course that's why it's called the Women's History of the World. I would certainly suggest this to any empowered female...and especially those that need empowering. Every female can benefit from a little rage now & then to remind them what they are capable of. This book ctually kicked-off a reading frenzy one weekend. I devoured 4 books of comparable subject matter!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Abilouise

    Ok, so I didn't finish it. The first bit, the prehistory bit, was like a bedtime story, and then it sort of bogged down for me in the "everything has sucked for women for the past few thousand years" part, mostly because I feel pretty confident that I have a general idea of how huge of a bummer they have been. I appreciate the work she did, but I probably won't come back to the really bummer chapters.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jemma

    A tour de force of a generally bleak picture. Even amongst slaves, guess who gets the worst of it. However, there are a few errors of fact here. Just minor things like dates, which could be typos, but they could do with tidying up as the detractors will no doubt use them to criticise this thesis.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Do I really need to explain how much I loved this book? Of course, one should always be aware of an author's possible bias and agenda (as well as one's own) when reading something like this, but Rosalind Miles has pretty good credentials and it's a fascinating read. Two thumbs up!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. I think it is important for all women to get a taste of the female view on history. Each chapter was well written and interesting. I have bought several copies for Christmas presents. I did truly enjoy this, and would recommend it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kylie

    A great read. Every female should read it.

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