Why did I love this book?
This is a very accessible introduction to six of the most powerful women of Egypt, women whose actions took place around, and sometimes as, pharaohs. Little-known queens, Merneith, Tawosret, and Neferusobek are considered alongside Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra. This approach helps Cooney to weave together a compelling story about female lives and expectations for women in ancient Egypt, and how this shaped these individuals’ access, use, and justifications for wielding power, some of which sound very familiar to discussions about women who hold power in our own time.
The evidence is necessarily patchy and the arguments sometimes speculative, as Cooney brings in much recent research and includes extensive footnotes that are well worth reading to understand the various debates that are underway in the field right now.