11 Non-Fiction Books About Famous Women That You Should Read

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Cover to The Warrior Queens: The Legends and Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations in War, by Antonia Fraser. Image via publisher, Anchor Books.

11. The Warrior Queens

This book now bears the subtitle of The Legends and Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations in War, which really tips you off as to its subject matter. Historian and author Lady Antonia Fraser starts with Boudica. Both Elizabeth I and Margaret Thatcher have their own time featured in this work, but women from the British Isles do have to share pages with others.

Indeed, Fraser also chooses to look at leaders like Catherine the Great of Russia, the Rani of Jhansi, Indira Gandhi, and Golda Meir, for history stretching from the Roman Empire all the way to the 1980’s with Thatcher and Gandhi.

As the book’s description on Goodreads notes, this book doesn’t just give brief biographies of each woman before going on its merry way. Instead, Fraser takes a look at how each woman presented herself as a ruler and a titular warrior queen, typically in comparison to the example of Boudica. (In fact, the book originally had a subtitle of Boadicea’s Chariot, using an alternative spelling of the same Iceni queen’s name.) Furthermore, Fraser examines the political realities of each woman’s time, and how that influenced their reigns.

Reviews of the book praise its willingness to take thoughtful positions on why certain strategies work for a woman in power, and why others don’t.

For more reading, check out individual biographies of each woman, like Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie.