91 books like The Amazons

By Adrienne Mayor,

Here are 91 books that The Amazons fans have personally recommended if you like The Amazons. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women

Patricia Bracewell Author Of The Steel Beneath the Silk

From my list on early Medieval England and Scandinavia.

Who am I?

Ever since childhood I’ve been fascinated by the history of England, and fifteen years ago I made the decision to write a series of novels set before the Norman Conquest. Since then I’ve immersed myself in the history of that period and made numerous visits to the locations where I set my novels. I’ve been frustrated though by the enormous gaps in the historical records of that time, in particular the lack of information about the women. Because of that I am drawn to the work of authors who, like me, are attempting to resurrect and retell the lost stories of those remarkable women. 

Patricia's book list on early Medieval England and Scandinavia

Patricia Bracewell Why did Patricia love this book?

Recent genetic research on the human remains of a 10th-century Viking grave excavated in 1878 in Birka, Sweden, rocked the world of Viking studies when it determined that the warrior buried with numerous weapons and two horses was not male, but female. I loved how this author imagines what that woman’s life might have been like. She also suggests that the woman buried in the Birka grave was merely one of many female Viking warriors, offering data drawn from archaeological finds, from historical accounts, from language studies, and from the sagas to support the theory that ‘shield maids’ really did exist. I had been dubious about the possibility of female Vikings, but the arguments presented in this book are too compelling. Reading it changed my mind. Now I’m a believer.

By Nancy Marie Brown,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Real Valkyrie as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra, Brown lays to rest the hoary myth that Viking society was ruled by men and celebrates the dramatic lives of female Viking warriors

“Once again, Brown brings Viking history to vivid, unexpected life―and in the process, turns what we thought we knew about Norse culture on its head. Superb.” ―Scott Weidensaul, author of New York Times bestselling A World on the Wing

"Magnificent. It captured me from the very first page." ―Pat Shipman, author of The Invaders

In 2017, DNA tests revealed to the collective shock of many scholars that a Viking warrior…


Book cover of Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations to War

Pamela D. Toler Author Of Women Warriors: An Unexpected History

From my list on women in war.

Who am I?

I've been fascinated by the concept of women warriors ever since I was a nerdy kid who read every biography of famous women I could get my hands—and I've been collecting their stories almost as long. Today I write historical non-fiction that puts women back into the story, whether it's women warriors, civil war nurses, or groundbreaking journalists. The impact of this can be profound. When we re-introduce overlooked populations into history, we get a very different story.

Pamela's book list on women in war

Pamela D. Toler Why did Pamela love this book?

In many ways, Antonia Fraser's Warrior Queens spurred my long-term interest in women warriors. Fraser not only introduced me to historical women I had never heard of, but to the idea that women had fought as a normal part of the army in far more epochs and far more civilizations than is normally appreciated. Fraser looks at her warring queens as a group as well as individually, trying to understand the tropes that (mostly male) historians have used both to make them bigger than life and to demean them as women. A fascinating read that has held up well over time.

By Antonia Fraser,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Warrior Queens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this panoramic work of history, Lady Antonia Fraser looks at women who led armies and empires: Cleopatra, Isabella of Spain, Jinga Mbandi, Margaret Thatcher, and Indira Gandhi, among others.


Book cover of Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman's Dramatic Fight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front

Pamela D. Toler Author Of Women Warriors: An Unexpected History

From my list on women in war.

Who am I?

I've been fascinated by the concept of women warriors ever since I was a nerdy kid who read every biography of famous women I could get my hands—and I've been collecting their stories almost as long. Today I write historical non-fiction that puts women back into the story, whether it's women warriors, civil war nurses, or groundbreaking journalists. The impact of this can be profound. When we re-introduce overlooked populations into history, we get a very different story.

Pamela's book list on women in war

Pamela D. Toler Why did Pamela love this book?

In 2012, former Air National Guard pilot and Purple Heart recipient Mary Jennings Hegar joined forces with the ACLU to challenge the ban that kept American women out of ground combat units. In Shoot Like A Girl, Hegar tells the story of the career that led her to that point.

Hegar’s love for flying, her commitment to her job, and her bonds with teammates are vividly portrayed. The incident for which she received the Purple Heart–her helicopter shot down in Afghanistan with wounded men aboard—is gripping. But the heart of the book is the systemic sexism Hegar faced throughout her career. This is a powerful account of one woman's determination to serve in the face of acts of casual prejudice, active hazing, sexual assault—and institutional cover-ups.

By Mary Jennings Hegar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shoot Like a Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On July 29, 2009, Air National Guard major Mary Jennings 'MJ' Hegar was shot down while on a Medevac mission on her third tour in Afghanistan. Despite being wounded, she continued to fight and saved the lives of her crew and their patients. But soon she would face a new battle: to give women who serve on the front lines the credit they deserve.

After being commissioned into the U.S. Air Force, MJ Hegar was selected for pilot training by the Air National Guard, finished at the top of her class, then served three tours in Afghanistan, flying combat search-and-rescue…


Book cover of Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe

Laurence W. Marvin Author Of The Occitan War: A Military and Political History of the Albigensian Crusade, 1209–1218

From my list on premodern western warfare.

Who am I?

From my earliest memories I’ve always been interested in military history, and as a young man I served in the U.S. Navy on a nuclear submarine. As an ardent bibliophile, my home and office overflows with books. As a professor, for the past 25 years I’ve been fortunate enough to teach a broad survey on western military history, which gives me the opportunity to experiment with many books for my own and the students’ enjoyment. The books on this list are perennial favorites of the traditional-age undergraduates (18-22) I teach, but will appeal to any reader interested in premodern military history. 

Laurence's book list on premodern western warfare

Laurence W. Marvin Why did Laurence love this book?

Lynn was one of my graduate advisors decades ago, but he wrote this long after I finished.

A highly respected military historian, Lynn did a remarkably sympathetic and nuanced job of explaining the vital role women played in early modern warfare. No, he doesn’t concentrate on the few who took on male garb and actually fought, but rather the tens of thousands of mostly nameless “camp followers” who provided essential services: food and fodder, as sutlers, and yes, as prostitutes. Quite simply, an early modern army couldn’t function without its extensive “tail.” 

One of the salient characteristics separating premodern and modern armies is how governments eventually, over a long period of time, froze out women from participating in any aspects of warfare by bringing under their aegis all the services (save prostitution) that women had heretofore provided.

By John A. Lynn II,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Women, Armies, and Warfare in Early Modern Europe examines the important roles of women who campaigned with armies from 1500 to 1815. This included those notable female individuals who assumed male identities to serve in the ranks, but far more numerous and essential were the formidable women who, as women, marched in the train of armies. While some worked as full-time or part-time prostitutes, they more generally performed a variety of necessary gendered tasks, including laundering, sewing, cooking, and nursing. Early modern armies were always accompanied by women and regarded them as essential to the well-being of the troops. Lynn…


Book cover of Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore

Jane Draycott Author Of Cleopatra's Daughter: From Roman Prisoner to African Queen

From my list on amazing ancient women by amazing modern women.

Who am I?

As an ancient historian and archaeologist, I’ve been fascinated by antiquity for many years yet I have little interest in politics and military matters and no patience at all with the ‘great man’ approach to history that privileges kings and generals. I’ve always wanted to know what the other half of ancient society was doing, and if we can’t find them in ancient literature, we need to use other types of evidence to find them and reconstruct their lives, and once we do that, we can gain an entirely new perspective on the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

Jane's book list on amazing ancient women by amazing modern women

Jane Draycott Why did Jane love this book?

Bettany Hughes follows the infamous beauty Helen of Troy through 3,000 years of world myth, history, archaeology, and culture.

I first read this book as an undergraduate and I’ve returned to it many times over the years as a first class example of how to make use of every possible scrap of evidence when attempting to bring the past to life in three dimensions and vivid technicolor.

By Bettany Hughes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Helen of Troy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As soon as men began to write, they made Helen of Troy their subject; for nearly three thousand years she has been both the embodiment of absolute female beauty and a reminder of the terrible power that beauty can wield. Because of her double marriage to the Greek King Menelaus and the Trojan Prince Paris, Helen was held responsible for both the Trojan War and enduring enmity between East and West. For millennia she has been viewed as an exquisite agent of extermination. But who was she?

Helen exists in many guises: a matriarch from the Age of Heroes who…


Book cover of The Murder of Regilla: A Case of Domestic Violence in Antiquity

Jane Draycott Author Of Cleopatra's Daughter: From Roman Prisoner to African Queen

From my list on amazing ancient women by amazing modern women.

Who am I?

As an ancient historian and archaeologist, I’ve been fascinated by antiquity for many years yet I have little interest in politics and military matters and no patience at all with the ‘great man’ approach to history that privileges kings and generals. I’ve always wanted to know what the other half of ancient society was doing, and if we can’t find them in ancient literature, we need to use other types of evidence to find them and reconstruct their lives, and once we do that, we can gain an entirely new perspective on the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

Jane's book list on amazing ancient women by amazing modern women

Jane Draycott Why did Jane love this book?

Unlike her husband, the famous philosopher Herodes Atticus, Appia Annia Regilla is virtually unknown, despite being so aristocratic that she was related to several Roman emperors and so wealthy that she was a great patroness whose architectural endeavours have survived.

Infuriatingly, she is only really mentioned in the historical record because she was a victim of domestic violence, as her husband brutally murdered her and, despite two separate trials, got away with it!

But Sarah B. Pomeroy works painstakingly to reconstruct the circumstances of her life from literary and archaeological evidence rather than simply focusing on her death

By Sarah B Pomeroy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Murder of Regilla as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From an acclaimed author comes a fascinating story of the life, marriage, and death of an all but forgotten Roman woman. Born to an illustrious Roman family in 125 CE, Regilla was married at the age of fifteen to Herodes, a wealthy Greek who championed his country's values at a time when Rome ruled.

Twenty years later--and eight months pregnant with her sixth child--Regilla died under mysterious circumstances, after a blow to the abdomen delivered by Herodes' freedman. Regilla's brother charged Herodes with murder, but a Roman court (at the urging of Marcus Aurelius) acquitted him. Sarah Pomeroy's investigation suggests…


Book cover of Agrippina: The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World

Jane Draycott Author Of Cleopatra's Daughter: From Roman Prisoner to African Queen

From my list on amazing ancient women by amazing modern women.

Who am I?

As an ancient historian and archaeologist, I’ve been fascinated by antiquity for many years yet I have little interest in politics and military matters and no patience at all with the ‘great man’ approach to history that privileges kings and generals. I’ve always wanted to know what the other half of ancient society was doing, and if we can’t find them in ancient literature, we need to use other types of evidence to find them and reconstruct their lives, and once we do that, we can gain an entirely new perspective on the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

Jane's book list on amazing ancient women by amazing modern women

Jane Draycott Why did Jane love this book?

If you are looking for something slightly different than the standard historical biography, nobody writes about ancient Rome quite like Emma Southon does.

She manages to take everything you think you know, turn it on its head, and make you think about it in an entirely new way, all while cackling involuntarily so hard that you drop the book. Her biography of the empress Agrippina is simultaneously profane and hilarious while still managing to be erudite and authoritative.

She is a truly singular talent.

By Emma Southon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Agrippina as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Sister of Caligula. Wife of Claudius. Mother of Nero. The story of Agrippina, at the center of imperial power for three generations, is the story of the Julio-Claudia dynasty—and of Rome itself, at its bloody, extravagant, chaotic, ruthless, and political zenith.

In her own time, she was recognized as a woman of unparalleled power. Beautiful and intelligent, she was portrayed as alternately a ruthless murderer and helpless victim, the most loving mother and the most powerful woman of the Roman empire, using sex, motherhood, manipulation, and violence to get her way, and single-minded in her pursuit of power for herself…


Book cover of Messalina: Empress, Adulteress, Libertine: The Story of the Most Notorious Woman of the Roman World

Jane Draycott Author Of Cleopatra's Daughter: From Roman Prisoner to African Queen

From my list on amazing ancient women by amazing modern women.

Who am I?

As an ancient historian and archaeologist, I’ve been fascinated by antiquity for many years yet I have little interest in politics and military matters and no patience at all with the ‘great man’ approach to history that privileges kings and generals. I’ve always wanted to know what the other half of ancient society was doing, and if we can’t find them in ancient literature, we need to use other types of evidence to find them and reconstruct their lives, and once we do that, we can gain an entirely new perspective on the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

Jane's book list on amazing ancient women by amazing modern women

Jane Draycott Why did Jane love this book?

Messalina is commonly passed over in favour of her successor as the wife of the emperor Claudius, Agrippina the Younger, the mother of Nero.

Honor Cargill-Martin seeks to redress this imbalance in the coverage of the two empresses, and explores what their similarities and differences can tell us about not only the Roman view of powerful women, but also the ways in which this view has been adapted (or not) over the last 2,000 years.

While she doesn’t entirely debunk Messalina’s reputation as a crazed nymphomaniac, she does contextualise her affairs and offer sensible, pragmatic explanations for them that shed a new light on ancient Roman imperial court culture.

By Honor Cargill-Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Messalina as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the story of Messalina - third wife of Emperor Claudius and one of the most notorious women to have inhabited the Roman world. The scandalous image of the Empress Messalina as a ruthless and sexually insatiable schemer, derived from the work of Roman historians such as Tacitus and Suetonius, has taken deep root in the Western imagination. The stories they told about her included nightly visits to a brothel and a twenty-four-hour sex competition with a prostitute. Tales like these have defined the empress's legacy, but her real story is much more complex. In her new life of…


Book cover of The Odyssey

William Hansen Author Of The Book of Greek and Roman Folktales, Legends, and Myths

From my list on classical mythology and folklore.

Who am I?

I grew up loving fairytales and still do. In college, my love for folktales grew into a passion for mythology. I pursued these interests at the University of California, Berkeley, received my PhD, and became a classicist and folklorist with a special interest in traditional stories. This interest was the foundation for several books, including Ariadne’s Thread: A Guide to International Stories Found in Classical Literature and Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans. My work in traditional stories led me to explore the neighboring topic of popular literature, which resulted in my Anthology of Ancient Greek Popular Literature.  

William's book list on classical mythology and folklore

William Hansen Why did William love this book?

Because it is a great read, Homer’s novel-like Odyssey is one of the best-loved books from antiquity. Moreover, it illustrates Greek mythology in action. 

Homer’s epic tells of the difficult return of the hero Odysseus from distant Troy to his island-home of Ithaca following the Trojan War, as he seeks to be reunited with his wife Penelope. In the course of his travels, he is aided by the goddess Athena, who is his divine champion, but obstructed by the wrathful sea-god Poseidon, his persecutor. 

Among other obstacles are bizarre and memorable characters such as the one-eyed, cannibalistic Cyclops, the treacherous Scylla and Charybdis, the alluring witch Circe, and the erotic nymph Calypso. This translation by Robert Fagles is one of the best.

By Homer, Robert Fagles (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Odyssey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Homer's best-loved and most accessible poem, recounting the great wandering of Odysseus during his ten-year voyage back home to Ithaca, after the Trojan War. A superb new verse translation, now published in trade paperback, before the standard Penguin Classic B format.


Book cover of Metamorphoses

William Hansen Author Of The Book of Greek and Roman Folktales, Legends, and Myths

From my list on classical mythology and folklore.

Who am I?

I grew up loving fairytales and still do. In college, my love for folktales grew into a passion for mythology. I pursued these interests at the University of California, Berkeley, received my PhD, and became a classicist and folklorist with a special interest in traditional stories. This interest was the foundation for several books, including Ariadne’s Thread: A Guide to International Stories Found in Classical Literature and Classical Mythology: A Guide to the Mythical World of the Greeks and Romans. My work in traditional stories led me to explore the neighboring topic of popular literature, which resulted in my Anthology of Ancient Greek Popular Literature.  

William's book list on classical mythology and folklore

William Hansen Why did William love this book?

The Metamorphoses, or Transformations, by the Roman poet Ovid is one of the most-read books of ancient literature because of its hundreds of wonderful stories as well as the charm of its witty and ironic author.

Since the stories he relates are all myths and legends, the Metamorphoses amounts to a virtual handbook of classical mythology. The theme of supernatural transformation runs through them all, portraying a world forever in flux, as someone or something is marvelously and surprisingly changed in some large or small way.

I like the vibrant new translation by Stephanie McCarter.

By Ovid, Stephanie McCarter (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Metamorphoses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bold, transformative new translation of Ovid's classic

Ovid's epic poem has, with its timeless stories, inspired and influenced generations of writers and artists, from Shakespeare and Chaucer to Picasso and Ted Hughes. The events it describes - the flight of Icarus, the music of Orpheus, Perseus' rescue of Andromeda, the fall of Troy - speak toward the essence of human experience: of power, of fate and, most fundamentally, of transformation.

Stephanie McCarter's new rendering, the first female translation in over sixty years, places its emphasis on the sexual violence at the heart of the poem - nearly fifty of…


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