A Mighty Girl's top picks of new biographies about Mighty Women for adult readers.
Nothing is more exciting than discovering an intriguing new biography or memoir — especially when it tells the story of a mighty woman! From thrilling stories about women war heroes, to engaging biographies about the pioneering suffragists who won women the vote, to searing accounts of overcoming harassment and abuse, these books provide an important perspective that's often missing in mainstream history books. And, just as our Mighty Girls love reading books about smart, confident, and courageous girls and women, we know that our adult supporters love their stories too!
In this blog post, we're featuring our favorite biographies and memoirs for adult readers about remarkable women of the past and present which were released in either hardcover or paperback in 2020. These well-crafted titles provide a unique perspective on events that we often think we know, and invite us to think about how our history is affected by whose stories are told. Whether you're looking for an empowering present or a thought-provoking book to tackle in the new year, these women's stories are sure to inspire!
New Biographies and Memoirs For Adult Readers
The story of Eleanor Roosevelt is more complex than most people know. After a childhood of insecurity, denial, and loneliness, her marriage to Franklin D. Roosevelt took her into the halls of power — but left her feeling more alone than ever as he pursued affairs with other women. Instead of collapsing, she decided to explore her own self and devoted herself to being a voice for the voiceless, first in the White House, and then around the world. Drawing on new research, acclaimed biographer David Michaelis creates the first single-volume cradle-to-grave portrait of this remarkable woman and how her life changed the world.
Ruth Coker Burks was 26 years old when she saw a hospital room that none of the nurses wanted to enter: the room of an AIDS patient. It was 1986, and stigma against both homosexuality and the disease itself was raging. As she sat with the man as he died, calling out for her mother, she found a new calling. Over years, she would nurse thousands of men, sometimes burying them herself when she couldn't find a funeral home willing to take their bodies. The gay community rallied around her, helping fundraise and spreading the word: there is a woman who will help when everyone else abandons you. This deeply moving memoir is a tribute to Burks' compassion and to the lives she fought for when no one else would.
Follow the long and dramatic 72-year fight for women's right to vote with this thrilling and deeply-researched account of the Women's Suffrage Movement by distinguished historian Carol DuBois! Beginning with the Women's Rights Movement's early years, and bold activists like Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Sojourner Truth, DuBois explores how the movement rose and fell; how the crushing disappointment of women being denied the vote with the 15th Amendment led to a schism between many people who had long worked shoulder to shoulder as abolitionists against slavery; and then introduces a new generation of champions like Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul who helped make the 19th Amendment a reality fifty years later. This authoritative history, released for the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment's ratification, is a stirring account of one of the most important movements in American history.
Judy Heumann fought polio at 18 months of age — but her bigger battle would be against a world that didn't want to allow her in. As a child, her family had to argue for her right to go to grade school, where one objection was that she might be a "fire hazard." She had to take the New York City school system to court because they wouldn't give her a teacher's license because she was paralyzed. These experiences convinced her that Americans with disabilities deserved better: they deserved legislation that would explicitly protect them. In this stirring memoir, Heumann describes her leadership for the Section 504 Sit-In, the longest takeover of a government building in American history, and of her lobbying for the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act. Both infuriating and empowering, this is a triumphant portrait of an activist who refused to be told where she couldn't go.
When Lacy Crawford was 15, she was sexually assaulted by two senior athletes at St. Paul's School — but she was told that there was nothing that could be done. Years later, when St. Paul's came under state investigation for reports of sexual abuse, she finally got to look at her criminal case file, and found proof that her case had been deliberately silenced. In this heartrending memoir, Crawford explores how institutions — including, but certainly not limited to, St. Paul's — sacrifice the safety of girls for the reputation of the powerful and privileged. Her searing account asks readers what it will take before we finally help survivors overcome shame and silencing — and demand they be given justice.
During her childhood in America's heartland of Kansas, Sarah Smarsh saw the women around her — women who struggled with poverty, early pregnancy, and stigma of being "trailer trash" — as the strength that held their community together. And country songs by female artists paid tribute to those ignored women — especially songs by Dolly Parton. In this book, which is part biography and part examination of how our culture dismisses the contributions of those from the "wrong" gender and class, the best-selling author of Heartland pays tribute to Parton's remarkable life, her philanthropy, and the spirit of feminism that she embodies in both her actions and her music.
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey was 19 when her former stepfather shot her mother; the trauma helped shape her writing as she struggled to understand grief and hope in the aftermath. Now, in this stunning memoir, she explores the "before": her mother's childhood in the segregated South, her own experiences as a "child of miscegenation" in Mississippi, and the struggles with domestic violence that would eventually explode on Memorial Drive in Atlanta in 1985. Both harrowing and compelling, this powerful book encourages readers to understand how racism, abuse, and violence ripple outward, creating both the tragic and the sublime.
In the early 1900s, women doctors in Britain were only permitted to treat women and children — they certainly weren't allowed to operate on men. But two of them — Flora Murray and Louisa Garrett Anderson — were determined to prove they were just as capable as their male colleagues, and World War I gave them the chance to do it. A month after the war began, Murray and Anderson were in Paris, opening a hospital in a former luxury hotel where they treated thousands of war wounded. They were so successful that the British Army asked them to set up a hospital on Endell Street in London. This lively telling of the women who founded the "Suffragettes' Hospital," and how they proved women doctors deserved equality, is an exciting reminder of how women's wartime service changed the world.
Megan Rapinoe started playing soccer at the age of 4, but she was also raised to work for justice and give back to her community. She became a soccer star, and her international platform gave her the chance to speak up about the issues that mattered to her, including advocating for LGBTQ rights and, in 2016, taking a knee during the national anthem in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick's protest of racially based police brutality — the first high-profile white athlete to do so. In this powerful memoir, Rapinoe reflects on her life and her ongoing fight for justice, including the gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, and urges her readers to follow her lead and "Be more. Be better. Be bigger than you've ever been before."
As a 7-year-old mestiza — the multiracial daughter of an American serviceman and a Filipina woman — Florence Finch had to rely on her own wits and courage to survive alone. She would depend on them again in the midst of World War II, when the man she loved, American naval intelligence agent Charles "Bing" Smith, was killed in battle — and she joined the resistance against the Japanese occupiers. Finch's plan was as dangerous as it was bold: divert fuel from the Japanese military, sell it on the black market, and use the money to provide money and food to American POWs. And yet, when she died in Ithaca, New York at the age of 101, only her children knew her story. In this action-packed account by award-winning military historian Robert J. Mrazek, Florence Finch's heroism gets lifted from obscurity so she can take her rightful place as one of America's wartime heroes.
Wayétu Moore celebrated her 5th birthday in Liberia without her mother, who was studying in New York. She was looking forward to a happy reunion — and then civil war broke out. After being forced to flee her home with her father and grandfather, and getting smuggled across the border to Sierra Leone, she got the reunion she wanted, but also found herself a new immigrant in the US. In this moving memoir about her journey away from, and then back to, her home country, Moore explores both her emotional life as she adjusted to life as a black woman in Texas, and the political forces that affect millions of migrants around the world.
In the midst of World War II, a little over 1,100 women made their way through the U.S. Army's selection process — and became part of a landmark in aviation history. The Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, program drew female pilots from across the country, eager to prove their mettle. Led by trailblazing pilots Nancy Love and Jacqueline Cochran, these women were never authorized to serve in combat, but they performed other critical (and dangerous) missions, from delivering planes to training male pilots. And then, just as quickly, the program was disbanded, leaving the women fighting for recognition for their military service. Author Katherine Sharp Landdeck's soaring account of the WASP program is a fitting tribute to these bold women, their dedication to their country, and their determination to make their place in history.
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin is one of the most important scientists that you've never heard of. As a female scientist in the early 20th century, she faced obstacles at every turn: derided, refused a degree at one college, and constantly overlooked. As she worked on her PhD in astronomy at Radcliffe, she successfully determined the chemical composition of the stars. Today, it's called "the most brilliant PhD thesis ever written in astronomy"; at the time, she was told her conclusions were utterly wrong... by the man who later proved she was correct. In this extensively researched biography, Donovan Moore pays tribute to a tenacious scientist whose many firsts helped break new ground — and whose spirit of discovery changed our understanding of the universe.
In 1943, Italy was fracturing. Catastrophic military losses — and two decades of brutal Fascist rule under Mussolini — had battered the country, and a Partisan resistance began to emerge.... one which included many Italian women. Told through the eyes of four Piedmontese women, Ada, Frida, Silvia and Bianca, who lived in secret in the mountains near Turin as they risked their lives for the Partisan, this powerful account explores Italy's civil war and the part that women played in it. Historian Caroline Moorehead, the acclaimed author of A Train in Winter, drew on previously untranslated sources to create this stunning account of this little-known story of women resisters in the midst of the war.
For decades, Dolly Parton has delighted audiences with her music, becoming a beloved icon and a pop culture legend. Now, in her own words, she lets her fans in on the stories behind the songs! In this book, Parton uses 175 of her songs to reveal both her own life story and the specific stories behind each song, including favorites like "Jolene," "9 to 5," "I Will Always Love You," and many more. Packed with previously unpublished images from Parton's personal and business archives, this book is a unique peek into Parton's witty, funny, and insightful thought process and a delight for music lovers everywhere.
In the midst of occupied Paris during World War II, two women took a bold step: creating their own subversive anti-Nazi campaign. Lucy Schwob and Suzanne Malherbe — better known by their artist names, Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore — were lesbian partners; Lucy was half-Jewish, and they had communist affiliations. In other words, they were everything the Nazis labeled "degenerate." They created "paper bullets": insults against Hitler, calls to rebel, and demoralizing fiction, which they quietly slipped into the pockets of soldiers and hid inside magazines in newsstands. Even when they were imprisoned by the German police, they continued to spread a message of hope to their fellow prisoners. This remarkable, previously untold World War II story is a celebration of the power of art and the importance of resistance.
Eliese Colette Goldbach never dreamed of life working in a steel mill, but in the Rust Belt, jobs offer financial security are few and far between. Work at the mill is dangerous and dirty, but she also finds surprising camaraderie and support from her coworkers — unexpected from gruff, hard-laboring men. In this touching book, Goldbach explores her childhood, her desire to escape her hometown, and the factors — both financial and emotional — that drew her back to the steel mill. Along the way, she discovers true hope for her nation in the people who keep America running. This clear-eyed and optimistic book is perfect for fans of Hillbilly Elegy and Educated.
As the space age dawned, two bold female pilots wrestled with how best to push forward the idea of women in the space program. Jackie Cochran held fistfuls of flying records and had led the Women's Auxiliary Service Pilots during World War II. Jerrie Cobb, 25 years Cochran's junior, took the same medical tests as the Mercury astronauts but was ultimately rejected along with the other women of the Mercury 13 program. Each woman had plans for women in space — plans that didn't necessarily agree. In this exciting dual biography, spaceflight historian Amy Shira Teitel explores the lives of two daring women, each of whom dreamed of being the first woman in space.
Lisa Donovan is a brilliant chef, but for years she struggled to break into the male-dominated industry — one where men often built their careers on the recipes created by women. Donovan herself had a family legacy of women who used food to build a sense of strength and pride; now it was time for her to claim it. In this memoir, she explores how her experiences shaped her belief that she was lesser, and how she used her talents in the kitchen — and drew on the support of other women in the culinary industry — to build a sense of self-reliance and confidence. This delicious memoir is a fascinating exploration of what it takes to establish your own place in the world, even when you've been told you don't have one.
In February 1945, the Yalta Conference was perhaps the last hope for the strained alliance between America, England, and the USSR. Politicians and world leaders hoped to save the alliance and the victory in World War II that it promised — and three of them brought their daughters. Kathleen Harriman, daughter of the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, was a champion skier and war correspondent; Sarah Churchill, daughter of Winston Churchill, was an RAF officer and a savvy politician in her own right; and Franklin Roosevelt controversially chose to bring his daughter Anna Roosevelt instead of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, trusting her to keep political secrets as she'd kept his personal ones. Author Catherine Grace Katz explores the story of these three remarkable young woman, their relationships with their fathers, and how this historic gathering resonated through the 20th century.
Only four women have served as justices for the Supreme Court of the United States — but eight more were shortlisted. From Florence Allen, an Ohio judge named repeatedly in the 1930s, to Amalya Kearse, the first African American woman considered a potential SCOTUS nominee, these women achieved many milestones but never made the highest court in the nation. Award-winning scholars Renee Knake Jefferson and Hannah Brenner Johnson tell their stories and highlight the danger of shortlisting: creating the appearance of diversity without the substance. It's a unique history that provides a road map for everyone who wants to overturn the status quo.
Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy
Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy
"Sometimes you have to lie" is one of the most stunning lines in Louise Fitzhugh's book Harriet the Spy — but it also speaks to Fitzhugh's own life. After a childhood in segregated Memphis, she traveled to New York and was thrilled by the diversity and potential there: lesbian bars in Greenwich Village, the postwar art scene, and avant-garde writers including Maurice Sendak and Lorraine Hansberry. Her writing for children defied everything children's literature "should" be, resisting conformity and authority, even as she felt pressures to conceal her own life and nature. This extraordinary biography is a compelling look at Fitzhugh, her creation Harriet, and the meaning of lies, truth, and individuality.
Dita Kraus grew up in Prague in a middle class Jewish family, where she felt like any other Czech — until the Holocaust began. Forcibly marched out of the only home she had ever known, she and her family were sent first to the Terezín ghetto, then to Auschwitz. Within the camp, Dita was selected for a dangerous but important responsibility: guarding the few precious books that had been smuggled into the camp by prisoners. It was a task that would give her the hope and purpose she needed to survive. This unflinching memoir by the woman who inspired the best-selling book The Librarian of Auschwitz is a powerful story of hope, determination, and a life delayed by hate.
Lady Margaret Beaufort was not a queen — but that did not mean she had no power. She dreamed of seeing her son, Henry, on the throne, ending the War of the Roses and starting a new dynasty in England. Through savvy manipulation and political intrigue, she took decades to solidify their position, and when Henry VII became the first Tudor king of England in 1485, she was queen in all but name. Historian Nicola Tallis has captured a stunning portrait of a brilliant woman who successfully ensured that her family would hold an integral place in English history.
Before Greta Thunberg became a household name for her fiery environmental activism, her family was facing a crisis on a smaller scale. At the age of 11, she had stopped eating and speaking; her parents Malena and Svante and her younger sister, Beata, found their lives turned upside down. It wasn't until they learned that Greta was deeply affected by the growing climate crisis — and what it meant for her future — that they figured out a way forward. In this stunning book, Greta and her family tell their own story, exploring the link between their family's challenges and the dangers facing our environment, and how understanding that link helped Greta become the leader of a worldwide movement for change.
When Christa McAuliffe was selected to be NASA's first teacher in space, she became a hero to millions of people across the country. She was going to perform science projects in orbit to be telecast to students across America, encouraging an interest in STEM and their dreams of the stars. Then, 73 seconds after the space shuttle Challenger lifted off on January 28, 1986, it exploded, killing McAuliffe and the other six astronauts on board. McAuliffe's legacy, however, survived, with people around the world creating their own programs in her honor. This compelling book, revised and updated in 2020, celebrates McAuliffe's ongoing influence in education — one which still touches today's students.
From early on, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker was determined: "I will always be somebody." A pioneering female doctor — who dared to wear pants rather than a skirt — she was a famous (or some might say notorious) figure. During the Civil War, she served so courageously that President Andrew Johnson later granted her the Medal of Honor, making her the only American woman ever to receive it.... only for the Army to strip her of the medal for her relentless involvement in the women's suffrage movement. Author Theresa Kaminski takes readers into the tumultuous time during and after the Civil War, and looks at these historic events through the eyes of a woman who held unwavering belief in her ability to make a contribution equal to that of any man.
In 15th century England, seemingly out of nowhere, four royal women were all accused of witchcraft. Joan of Navarre, Eleanor Cobham, Jacquetta of Luxembourg and Elizabeth Woodville were alleged to have turned to dark arts to kill or influence the king... by people who wanted to use the accusations for their own political gain. In this fascinating book, historian Gemma Hollman explores the cases of these four "witches" — tried nearly two hundred years before witch hysteria swept through England — to highlight the blurring between science and magic and how gender plays a part in witch trials, in an intriguing and complex account of four women tied by family, court politics, and the envy of others.
When the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920, many women who had fought for it knew their work wasn't done. They wanted more than their right to vote enshrined in the Constitution; they wanted a provision that prevented all discrimination on the basis of sex. But the Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA, wasn't adopted by Congress until 1972 — and the final state necessary for ratification only approved it in January of 2020. Why did it take so long, and what would it mean for American women if it finally went through? In this powerful book, renowned legal scholar Julie Suk explores the past of the ERA and highlights what it means for the future.
As the daughter-in-law of renowned paleoanthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey, Meave Leakey had big shoes to fill — and she did so with gusto. Alongside her husband, Richard, Leakey faced all the challenges of an anthropologist in the field, including wild life, armed herders, and more, on her quest for a fossil that would change history. And when Richard's plane crashed, likely due to sabotage, he called on her to continue the field operations when he couldn't. Along the way she made astounding findings, including evidence of how climate change drove the evolution of pre-human species. This is the story not just of Leakey's life and discoveries, but also of how our species' past could help us define and understand our future.
Adrienne Rich was an award-winning poet whose powerful writing is still meaningful today — and she was also a woman who repeatedly transformed herself, along the way becoming a trailblazer for and critic of the feminist movement. As a Radcliffe-educated poet and married mother, she realized that she wasn't being authentic to herself, and broke from that life to become an openly lesbian feminist writer. But she was always ready to examine the evolving feminist movement, including herself, for mistakes that needed to be corrected. In the first comprehensive biography of Rich, author Hilary Holladay draws on her correspondence and in-depth interviews to depict this pioneering woman in all of her complexity.
Jenna Bush grew up with four grandparents who left indelible marks on her life. George H.W. and Barbara Bush were Gampy and Ganny, who taught her her about respect, kindness, and service. Harold and Jenna Welch were Pa and Grammee, who taught her to see beauty in simple and small things. In this collection of personal essays, Bush, the co-author of Sisters First, reflects on the difficult year in which her family lost three of these four inspiring people, and tells family stories with humor and love. For anyone who has been shaped by the wisdom and grace of grandparents, this book is a volume to treasure.
The vision we hold of suffragists is one of stern, marching faces, demanding their rights — but the suffragists also needed to win the hearts and minds of women across the country, and they did it through a familiar method: food. With the help of cookbooks and community meals, the suffragists reached out to women who weren't convinced to their cause. In All Stirred Up, Laura Kumin, the author of The Hamilton Cookbook, introduces readers to this less celebrated side of the movement. Using actual historic recipes to showcase the suffragists' humor and wit — “mix the crust with tact and velvet gloves, using no sarcasm, especially with the upper crust” — this unique book celebrates the power of food and fellowship to drive social change.
Emily Dickinson is an enigma, even though her poems are beloved today: she wrote 1,789 poems that she put in a dresser drawer; she wrestled with faith, self-doubt, and despair; and she defied her reputation for isolation by reaching out to a famous editor, writing to an unidentified "Master," and forming a friendship with fellow writer Helen Hunt Jackson. In this incisive look at Dickinson's life, Martha Ackmann explores ten key episodes in the poet's life as a way of examining her remarkable inner landscape and her startlingly original poetry. Drawing on archival letters and poems, and including 16 pages of never-before-seen photos, this is an intimate and revealing look at this enduring poet.
As a child, Sarah Frey was determined to get off the family farm — to the point where she moved out of her family home at the age of 15 to start her own produce delivery business. But two years later, with the farm facing foreclosure, she came back, took over, and started changing the rules. Frey became famous for her savvy negotiation, even being used as a case study for Harvard Business School, and today Frey Farms is one of America's largest fresh produce growers. In The Growing Season, Frey reflects on how her rural childhood gave her the resilience and determination she needed to save the farm... and how she found her place in the world she thought she wanted to escape.
Across the Soviet Union, forced labor camps called gulags "corrected" everyone from petty thieves to political prisoners with brutal treatment and grinding hardship — and women were not exempt from incarceration there. Author Monika Zgustová inteviewed nine women who lived through the gulags, capturing not only a chronicle of survival, but also a stunning portrait of resilience and hope. In many of their stories, the arts helped to sustain them, from a girl born in the gulag who read a hand-stitched copy of Little Red Riding Hood, to a woman who sent poetry to the male prisoner she loved. Intimate and heart-rending, their stories are a reminder of both the viciousness of the Soviet regime and of the power of hope to sustain humanity at the worst of times.
When Julia Zarankin became curious about stereotypical birdwatchers and their fervor for nature, she had no idea she would find meaning for her own life while hunting for birds through binoculars! She was recently divorced and under stress in her career, and she found a metaphor for her own life in the migratory patterns of birds. She also found an unexpected community and discovered a love of the outdoors that she couldn't have imagined as the child of Russian concert pianists. Thoughtful, witty, and full of moments of unexpected joy, this memoir is a tribute to finding your place — even when it's not where you thought it would be.
To win the vote, women had to put their bodies and lives on the line — and one of them was Doris Stevens. In this stunning first person account, Stevens lays out the political backdrop — an administration refusing to consider women's suffrage no matter what argument was laid before them — and then describes the courage of women like her who demanded to have their voices heard. Stevens herself was arrested for "obstructing the sidewalk" and jailed; her colleagues and friends suffered worse, including beatings and force-feeding. This 100th anniversary edition of her book, with a new introduction from suffrage historian Angela P. Dodson, is a powerful reminder of what the suffragists had to do to win the rights we take for granted today.
Victoria James got her first restaurant job at age 13 — a necessity to provide for herself and her siblings, since she couldn't rely on her neglectful father. She endured all the abuse that is common in the restaurant industry, but she also discovered a love of wine, and at the age of 21, she became the country's youngest sommelier at a Michelin-starred restaurant. Still, behind the media acclaim and the thousand-dollar bottles, there was plenty of ugliness — and when Victoria hit bottom, she knew she had to rediscover herself and her passion. This clear-eyed memoir explores the truth behind the fancy facades at America's best restaurants, and the power of a passion to rejuvenate your life.
In 1919, with World War I just over and the world changing faster than ever, the Women's Engineering Society was born. It was the brainchild of Katharine Parsons and her daughter Rachel — wife and daughter of engineer Charles Parsons, and talented minds in their own right — and Caroline Haslett, a self-taught electrical engineer. Other bold women soon joined them, and brought their inventions and ideas with them... ideas like women's suffrage, freedom from domestic management, and the opportunity for women to contribute equally in the workplace. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Society, author Henrietta Heald explores the Society, the women within it, and the society that it helped change forever.
Sara Seager is an MIT astrophysicist who was used to scanning the sky for exoplanets — tiny, distant worlds that might offer the promise of life. But when her husband died unexpectedly, leaving her a single mother with two young boys, she felt alone for the first time. She found comfort in her work, focusing on the challenges of identifying tiny hints of a planet's presence, and on Earth, where she received support from both expected and unexpected quarters. This is a stunning look at grief and life after loss, as well as the one-in-a-billion chances that happen in every life.
Maria Konnikova had never played poker, and she wanted to learn from the best: Erik Seidel, Poker Hall of Fame inductee. But she wasn't interested in million-dollar wins or attracting sponsors on the poker tour; the Ph.D. in psychology wanted to understand what lessons poker had to teach her about life, luck, and how humans respond when they can't control the outcome. To her surprise, though, she did win — hundreds of thousands of dollars — even as she was learning remarkable things about how humans make choices, why some people make it through dark times, and how to hold out until luck falls in you favor again. This is a fascinating look at both the world of high-stakes poker and the workings of the human mind.
When Rose Pastor arrived in New York in 1903, she was just one of many Russian Jewish refugees that most people thought were destined to a life of sweatshop labor. Instead, two years later, she married James Graham Phelps Stokes, the scion of a high society family, and catapulted herself into the elite. And then, she and her husband joined the Socialist Party and started gathering a group of activist and agitators. Rose led strikes and protests, campaigned to spread information bout birth control, and brought audiences to tears with her stories about the struggles of workers. And then, just as quickly, she fell into poverty, and died far too young. Written by a best-selling master of narrative nonfiction, this astonishing biography illuminates the story of a nearly forgotten agitator and radical.
The stereotype of women from the Appalachians is one of poverty and struggle — but Cassie Chambers knows hill women are so much more. Chambers' Granny was a child bride in Owsley County, one of the poorest in Kentucky. Her oldest daughter, Ruth, stayed on the farm; her sixth child, Wilma, was determined to go to college — even when she ended up pregnant with Cassie at 19. Her mother's big dreams and her aunt and grandmothers' determination combined in Cassie, and she went on to get a degree from Harvard Law. Now, she provides free legal services to hill women in need of help. This heartfelt examination of the guts and grit of Appalachian women is a reminder that, if we help them remove the obstacles they face, they can change their communities for the better.
When women rule, they often go to war — and prove themselves as able for the task as any king. In this intriguing book, father-daughter pair Jonathan W. and Emily Anne Jordan explore the stories of queens at war, both past and present. They evoke the stories of Elizabeth Tudor and Queen Nijinga of Angola, of Indira Gandhi and Golda Meir, and many more, exploring the moments that challenged their countries and how their decisions either saved or condemned their reigns — and their lives. Thrilling and terrifying in equal measure, these stories remind us that women leaders have always had their part to play.
Michele Harper faced professional obstacles as an African American woman ER physician — and when she started her career, she also faced personal obstacles as her marriage ended. As she dove into treating patients, and as she wrestled with the systemic problems they faced, she also learned more than how to mend a body. Her patients taught her how to let go of her fears, how to tell difficult truths, and how making peace with her past would help her make the most of the present. This profound and hopeful memoir is a reminder that we are all broken — and we can all find ways to recovery.
When 30-year-old Swedish journalist Kim Wall was pursuing a story in 2017, she thought it would be another article to add to her increasingly impressive portfolio. Instead, she ended up dead — killed by the Danish entrepreneur she planned on interviewing. In this powerful memoir, Wall's parents Ingrid and Joachim not only relate their personal struggles, coming to terms with the loss of their beloved daughter, but also capture a portrait of the woman whose voice was silenced: loving, clever, complicated, and determined to seek out truth. Now translated into English, this is a story not just about surviving loss, but also about the importance of remembering everything Wall stood for.
Philosophers change the way we think — so why do we only hear about male philosophers? It's time to meet the philosopher queens! In this important volume, you'll learn about twenty prominent women, past and present, whose ideas have changed our culture and the world. From Ban Zhao, writing the history of ancient China, to Hypatia, a rare woman teacher in Alexandria, to Angela Davis and the American Black Power Movement, these women's minds left their mark... even when we don't know their names. With vibrant, stylized illustrations that bring each women to life, this is an inspiring volume that's sure to pique your interest about the other untold stories of neglected thinkers.
Noor Inayat Khan was raised by pacifists and devoted herself to music and writing — but when the Nazis invaded France, her childhood home, she was determined to act. She joined the British Special Operations Executive and trained as a wireless operator, but her instructors doubted if she had the mettle for the job. She proved them wrong, not only communicating critical information that set the stage for D-Day, but also fighting heroically when she was finally captured, attempting escape twice and enduring torture without revealing her secrets. This stunning, deeply researched tribute to an unlikely World War II hero celebrates the courage and faith that drove her to give her life for peace.
Charlotte Cushman was determined to live life her own way — even if that meant defying every norm of the 1800s! She left Boston for a career on the stage, performing in New Orleans, New York, and London and impressing luminaries like Walt Whitman, President Abraham Lincoln, and Louisa May Alcott, who even based a character on her in Jo's Boys. And she set gossips talking by rejecting marriage, living publicly as a queer woman, and supporting her family with her own income. In this vivacious biography, Tana Wojczuk draws on new research, including little seen letters and documents, to capture a portrait of this unique woman and her remarkable life.
In 1910, 30-year-old Olive MacLeod learned that her fiance, naturalist Boyd Alexander, had disappeared in Africa. The Scottish aristocrat made a bold decision: she would go and find him. With two companions by her side, MacLeod dared dangerous wildlife, met local chiefs and leaders, and even adopted a pair of lion cubs. She also discovered the forces that were trying to win control over Africa, including colonial governments and a warlord who might know what had happened to Boyd. Using MacLeod's letters and diaries, this book explores MacLeod's journey, as well as her inner life as she is forced to ask herself why she really came to African after all.
Today, Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the best-selling Maisie Dobbs series — but before she was a writer, she was the child of a family struggling with secrets, poverty, and finding their place in post-war England. In this personal memoir, she explores family stories, from her paternal grandfather's shellshock and its influence on the family, to her parents' struggles during World War II, to her own childhood helping pick hops and fruit in Kent. And yet, despite the aftereffects of the war and a constant battle to have enough money to survive, her family was full of love. This poignant and evocative book is an intriguing look at the childhood behind the artist and how a family's resilience can mean everything.
Elizabeth, Grace, and Katharine Lumpkin were sisters who grew up steeped in the white supremacy of the South — but only one of them would remain there. Grace and Katharine left their home, traveling north and devoting themselves to race and labor issues, as well as to exploring the divide between North and South. Meanwhile, Elizabeth extolled Confederate veterans and remained "an eternal loyalist." In this fascinating book, award-winning historian Jacquelyn Dowd Hall traces the paths of all three sisters, exploring the revolutionary zeal that drove so many Southerners away from home — and the difficult experiences of sisters with diverging beliefs. Epic in scope and nuanced in presentation, this is a unique look at America's struggles through the eyes of three sisters.
Anne Glenconner was born into court life and privilege — but as a daughter, she couldn't inherit her father's estate, and he considered her "the greatest disappointment." She befriended the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret, as a child, and she became lady in waiting to Princess Margaret until she died in 2002. Her first engagement was broken off; her husband was unfaithful and changed his will to leave his entire estate to a former servant; and two of her sons died in adulthood, while the third barely survived an accident. And through it all, she carried on. In this unprecedented book, Glenconner tells her own story and gives readers a peek into royal life with both wit and candor. This memoir about life in a golden cage is perfect for fans of The Crown.
When Camila was 22 years old, she gave birth to a son. With no family, no partner, and no home, she had no choice but to rely on New York City's shelter system — a system that madee it impossible for her to find the stability and safety she needed to achieve the life she dreamed of. In this stunning book, journalist Lauren Sandler follows Camila from her son's birth to his firth birthday, capturing her intelligence and resilience, but also the incredible obstacles that seem designed to prevent her from changing her life for the better. Both a celebration of Camila — and the many mothers like her — and a call to action to improve our social safety net, this is a book that will linger with you long after the last page.
Alice Adams was famous for her writing about women — stories that came from both her own experiences and the rapidly shifting culture around her. Raised during the Great Depression, coming of age in wartime, and then finding herself a divorcee and single mother, she worked as a secretary for two decades before she could support herself with her writing. Once she could, though, she became renowned for her compelling characters, her powerful love stories, and her independent girls and women. In the first full-scale biography of Adams, packed with analyses of her writing and interviews with Adams' family and friends, Carol Sklenicka creates a fascinating vision of both this prolific writer's life and the shifting American culture around her.
Sylvia Pankhurst fought for women's right to vote by her mother's side, but when suffrage became law, she wasn't done. She wanted reproductive rights, freedom of sexual expression, equal pay, and more — for women and for other oppressed groups — ideas that made even her mother Emmeline Pankhurst think of her as radical. But her work would change lives around the globe, whether she was fighting against apartheid, working for Irish independence, arguing for rights for refugees, or combating racism. In this detailed and astonishing biography, author Rachel Holmes depicts Pankhurst's rebellious and visionary life, showing how this woman's ideas leave their mark on the world today.
Lissa Yellow Bird returned to the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota after she was released from prison — and found her home irrevocably changed. The Bakken oil boom had promised prosperity but also brought corporate control, violence, and addiction to her community. Then, in 2012, a young white oil worker named Kristopher "KC" Clarke disappeared — and nobody but Lissa seemed to care that he was missing. In this stunning book, Sierra Crane Murdoch explores a gripping true story of a man's murder and a woman's obsession with finding justice, one which forced us to confront the systematic damage done to tribal nations... and the possibility of redemption and healing.
Cynthia Beebe was an independent girl who grew up to find herself in a groundbreaking role: one of the first female special agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). As a young woman, she faced obstacles not just in the crimes she was attempting to solve, but also within the ultra-masculine, unwelcoming world of ATF agents. But she proved her mettle, and over 27 years, she investigated violent crimes, unearthed the evidence necessary to convict, and proved women belonged on the ATF front lines. Through the lens of six of her most important cases, and through riveting, never before revealed details, Beebe explores what humans are capable of — and what it takes to catch the people who commit these dreadful crimes.
For people suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses, nothing seemed to help — until, in 1962, a woman named Dr. Claire Weekes published a book, Hope and Help for Your Nerves. Considered a state-of-the-art method today, Weekes' book was denounced by the psychiatric establishment when it first appeared; she was "underqualified" and "populist." In this first biography of this trailblazing women, readers will learn about her eclectic life: the first woman to earn a Doctor of Science degree at Australia's oldest university, the author of globally celebrated research into evolution, and a former travel agent. This is the true story of an uncelebrated mental health pioneer whose work has transformed the lives of millions around the world.
Sylvia Plath's remarkable writing changed poetry in English — but her literary contributions have almost been overshadowed by her personal life and tragic death. Now, author and historian Heather Clark draws on previously unaccessed materials, including unpublished letters, court and psychiatric records, and new interviews, to create a new portrait of Plath: one that refuses to view her whole life through the lens of her death. Defying long-held myths and creating a more nuanced picture of Plath's childhood in the shadow of World War II, her relationship with Ted Hughes, and her art itself. This is a complex and intriguing biography of an equally complex and intriguing figure.
History is full of inspiring women who are rarely celebrated — which means that our world is full of places where women made history! In this unique guidebook from Lonely Planet, readers learn about dozens of women who made their mark in activism, arts, politics, science, and more, and about the places where they lived, worked, and drew their inspiration. From Queen Hatshepsut of ancient Egypt to Jacinda Ardern's work today, these stories will inspire readers to learn more about these trailblazing women, and visit the secretly feminist sites around the world. For anyone with a yen to travel and a desire to learn more about women's history, this book is a must-have title!
In her first memoir, Home, Julie Andrews talked about the challenges of her childhood and of her rise to become a star on the stage. Now, in the much-anticipated follow-up, she explores her time in Hollywood, complete with the highs and lows: a stunning rise to fame, adjusting to a new world, and the challenges and joys of family and love. She also provides a behind-the-scenes peek at the making of some of her most beloved films, like Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and Victor/Victoria. This candid and charming memoir is a unique glimpse into the inspiring and little-known life of a Hollywood treasure.
In 1942 France, a mysterious spy known as the "Limping Lady" was a linchpin for the French Resistance – the Gestapo called her "the most dangerous of all Allied spies." Her name, unknown to the Germans, was Virginia Hall. She was the daughter of a well-off Baltimore family turned Special Operations Executive agent, and her distinctive limp was from a prosthetic leg that most people believed would trap her behind a secretary's desk. Author Sonia Purnell explores the full story behind Hall's life, illuminating her determination and her wartime heroism. Fast-paced, thrilling, and meticulously researched, this biography of Hall is better than any fictional spy story. For two more fascinating biographies of Hall, check out The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy and Hall of Mirrors: Virginia Hall: America's Greatest Spy of World War II.
Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait: Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote
Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait: Alice Paul, Woodrow Wilson, and the Fight for the Right to Vote
Woodrow Wilson's arrival in Washington as the new president was overshadowed by a suffragist parade — one organized by 25-year-old activist Alice Paul. It was the beginning of a struggle between the president and this determined woman who refused to give way and wait for women's right to vote. In Mr. President, How Long Must We Wait?, author Tina Cassidy tells the interwoven stories of these two political figures, complete with a detailed portrait of Paul's activism — and the price she paid for it, including solitary confinement, force feeding, and even commitment in a psychiatric ward. Released in advance of the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, this book highlights the courage, determination, and daring of this little-known heroine.
Stunning pictures from the Hubble Telescope have changed the way we see our universe — but to get them, a team of astronauts, engineers, scientists, and more hand to leave their handprints (both literal and metaphorical) on the cutting age satellite. In this memoir, Kathy Sullivan, the first American woman to conduct a space walk, recounts not only her own story of her journey to NASA — and to orbit — but also the story of Hubble's rocky start and triumphant success. Conversational and compelling, this is an inspiring look at the power of innovation and teamwork to achieve new heights for humanity.
Before the Nazis could implement their Final Solution, they needed to convert Auschwitz from a prison camp into a death machine — and they used Jewish teenage girls and young women to do it. When the 999 young women boarded a train in Slovakia, they believed they were being sent to work in a shoe factory; in reality, their actual purpose was to be used as slave labor at Auschwitz, demolishing buildings with their bare hands, digging trash out of frozen lakes, and building dozens of barracks. Almost all of them were dead within a year from starvation and disease. Of those few who survived the war, author Heather Dune Macadam was able to interview twenty of them before their stories were lost to history forever, and this gripping book finally gives voice to these forgotten young women and their astounding struggle to survive in the most harrowing of circumstances.
Audrey Hepburn is known as both a glamorous movie star and a compassionate humanitarian — and according to her son, Luca Dotti, "The war made my mother who she was." In this fascinating book, author Robert Matzen draws on interviews, personal reminiscences, wartime diaries, and more to capture Hepburn's life-changing experiences during the Nazi occupation of Holland. The war brought violence, including the execution of her uncle, near starvation during the infamous Hunger Winter, and dangerous roles working with the Dutch Resistance. But there were triumphs as well, including newfound fame as a ballerina. Intimate and intense, this powerful story illuminates the childhood that drove Hepburn's incredible contributions to the world.
Ellen O'Connell Whittet was going to be a professional ballerina... until a single misstep shattered her dreams. Her debilitating injury left her without her planned career, without the joy of the stage, and without the dance she loved. But it also gave her time to think about what lay behind the exquisite facade of ballet: dancers starving themselves to fit a physical ideal, battered and bleeding feet, and a desperate desire for unattainable perfection. In this stunning memoir, O'Connell Whittet explores how dancers' suffering echoes the violence and expectations that women are expected to quietly take on in other aspects of life, and how shedding them could allow women to soar.
The mystery of Jack the Ripper looms large in popular culture, but the story of his victims is nearly forgotten. From early on, London newspapers spread the story that the Ripper killed prostitutes — the sort of woman society wouldn't miss — giving readers license to gasp in delighted horror at his crimes. Historian Hallie Rubenhold looks further at the stories of Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane, revealing complex lives, intriguing stories, and dreams shattered by the prejudices against women they faced every day. Shedding new perspective on one of the world's most famous crime stories, this book's most important question asks: why don't we care about the women the Ripper destroyed?
When she married Edward II in 1308, nobody knew that Isabella of France would become on of the most notorious figures in English history. After being sent back to France in 1325 to negotiate peace with her brother, Charles IV, Isabella instead started a relationship with English baron Roger Mortimer — one of Edward's greatest enemies — and used her custody of her son, heir to the British throne, to lead an invasion into England force Edward II's abdication. Then, she and Mortimer ruled as regents... until her son, now Edward III, overthrew them himself in 1330. This extraordinary account exposes the true story of a daring, influential woman who refused to accept her subordinate role.
Svenja O'Donnell knew her grandmother Inge as a distant figure — until she visited Kaliningrad, where Inge lived as a child, and suddenly her story spilled out. Living in what was then Königsberg, Germany, Inge and her parents looked the other way during Hitler's rise to power. As Inge tells her about the horrors of war, fleeing the invading Russian army, struggling through the post-war years, and more, O'Donnell wrestles with how Inge's trauma has affected her family, and the intermingled pride and guilt of her German identity. Unlike most war books, which focus on heroic defiance, this book tackles the reality of those who chose careful ignorance and protective inaction. Stunning and raw, this is a unique look at the aftermath of the war and how we steer ourselves towards the future.
Haben Girma has been Deafblind since early childhood, but to her, disability is an opportunity for innovation. The determined young woman learned early about the power of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and how technology could help her achieve her goals. She realized that a career as a lawyer could help her benefit even more people, allowing her to use her talents to advocate for people with disabilities. Warm, funny, thoughtful, and uplifting, this captivating memoir is a testament to one woman's determination to find the keys to connection.
As the daughter of notorious segregationist George Wallace, Peggy Wallace Kennedy adored her father, even as she watched him block a schoolhouse door against two African-American students. But as an adult, she had a political awakening, and has since become an avowed advocate of racial reconciliation. In this powerful and personal memoir, she explores the contradictions between her love for her father and her hated of the damage he did, and asks important questions about change, atonement, and what we can do to make up for the damage of the past.
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey weren't the first reporters to hear tales about Harvey Weinstein's treatment of women; rumors had circulated for years. Their 2017 investigation — which would win the Pulitzer Prize — involved confidential interviews with actresses and employees, which not only revealed allegations, but also the web of payouts, nondisclosure agreements, and legal threats that kept women silent. And even that didn't prepare them for the cultural response to their New York Times story, which galvanized the #MeToo movement as women around the world told their own stories of harassment and abuse. In this thrilling story of the power of investigative journalism, Kantor and Twohey tell their story and reflect on how they hope it will change the world for future generations of women.
The story of the fight for suffrage in America is often poorly understood and oversimplified, with most people knowing the names of a few key figures and perhaps a handful of significant moments. In truth, the 72 year-long movement was complex, fractious, and far more diverse than any superficial history shows! In this compelling book, Susan Ware shines a light on nineteen often overlooked activists, including Rose Schneiderman, Mary Church Terrell, Mary Johnston, Emmeline W. Wells, and more. It also shows a few of the many places where the suffrage movement unfolded such as church parlors, meeting rooms, and the halls of Congress, but also on college campuses and even at the top of Mount Rainier. Moving, inspiring, and empowering, this is a testament to political action, the bond between women, and the power of raising your voice.
When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, Sarah M. Bloom's family home was destroyed. Bloom's mother, Ivory Mae, had bought the shotgun house in 1961 to raise her family in. The house was a project that Ivory Mae could never complete: while she could keep it immaculately clean, she could not afford the repairs it constantly needed. And as Broom struggled to help her mother get disaster reimbursement — a project that took seven years and multiple sets of "lost" papers — she also began to research and write about the Yellow House and where it fits in the bigger picture of race and class. This National Book Award winner is an unflinching look at broken promises, persistence, and what it means to have a home.
During the sexual assault case against Brock Turner, she was known only as Emily Doe. Despite having the "perfect" case — eyewitnesses, physical evidence, and more — she wrestled with shame, even as she wrote a victim impact statement that stunned the nation and the world. In her stunning memoir, now proudly owning her name, Chanel Miller reveals the oppression she experienced as a survivor, her anger at a justice system that fails to protect the vulnerable, and the power of finding your voice as a way to aid healing. At times humorous, at other times a punch in the gut, this memoir demands that we sit up and pay attention to survivors.
Alicia Keys skyrocketed to stardom with her extraordinary music, becoming one of the most celebrated musicians in the world — but behind the stage shows and CDs were many personal struggles. In this unflinching book, which is part memoir, part narrative documentary, Keys explores — both through her own eyes and the eyes of those who know her — some of those challenges: her relationship with her father, reconciling the loss of privacy and unattainable expectations that come with fame, and the dangers of her people-pleasing nature. From a childhood in Hell's Kitchen and Harlem to the world stage, this book follows her every step of the way, encouraging readers to take their own journeys to self-definition.
Sandra Day O'Connor may have graduated near the the top of her Stanford law school class, but in 1952, no law firm would even interview her. Determined to shatter every glass ceiling she encountered, O'Connor became the first female majority leader in a state senate. As a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals, she proved her willingness to uphold and humanize the law. Once she was appointed the first female justice on the United States Supreme Court, she became a key decision maker in many of America's most important legal cases. This personal and poignant look at a woman who was used to being first at almost everything she did will inspire anyone who wants to ignore the naysayers and take the lead.
In 1941, 31-year-old Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, a young, privileged mother of two, was also the head of a critical French spy network, Alliance. It seemed like a role she was born to play: she was notoriously strong-willed and rebellious, willing to defy her country's patriarchal rules before the war — and the Nazi occupiers during it. Fourcade would be the war's only female chef de résistance; she held together thousands of agents despite relentless pursuit by the Gestapo. Thanks to her ferocious conviction, Alliance became the longest-lasting resistance network in France, supplying key information, including an enormous map of the beaches where the Allies landed on D-Day. This tale of a courageous woman who refused to give in is suspenseful and thrilling.
Even as a teen, Mallory O'Meara loved The Creature from the Black Lagoon — and she was delighted to discover that her beloved creature had been designed by a woman. But Milicent Patrick, its creator, had disappeared from film after her contributions had been claimed by a male colleague. So when she joined the horror movie industry, she decided to track down the incredible true story of Patrick's life, her work as one of Disney's first female animators, and where she went after her film career was cut short. This exciting story, which reminds readers that Hollywood culture still has a long way to go, celebrates a female (and feminist) pioneer in film.
When Carolyn Forché met Leonel Gomez Vides, who wanted her to learn more about his homeland of El Salvador, she was fascinated by the charming and brilliant man. He introduced her to farm workers trapped in poverty, the priests trying to help them, and the military officers trying to stamp out any sign of dissent. It didn't take long before Forché got swept up in Vides' perilous work. As they ran from safe house to safe house, she tried to make sense of the horrors around her, and wondered how someone can stay moral in a country on the edge of disaster. Lyrical and devastating, this is a powerful book by one of today's greatest poets about empathy, social conscience, and what you will risk for others.
Barbara Bush is the only woman ever to see both her husband and her son sit in the Oval Office as president — but her story is about more than being a wife and mother. She was a savvy campaign strategist and a capable advisor. She supported literacy programs and compassion for people with HIV and AIDS. And her personal story included emotional scars, deep losses, and mental health struggles that few people saw. In this powerful look at one of America's beloved First Ladies, USA TODAY's Washington Bureau chief Susan Page, in cooperation with Bush herself in the months before her death, tells her extraordinary story and her last words on key issues facing her family and the nation.
Whether you love classic Disney films like Snow White, or you prefer their modern-day stories like Moana and Frozen, you probably don't know that there was a group of influential women involved at every step of the way! These women fought sexism and workplace intimidation in the male-dominated story and animation departments, but their fingerprints are all over the rise of Walt Disney Studios. Nathalia Holt, the bestselling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls, illuminates the contributions of women from Disney's Golden Age to today, highlighting how having women at the table has transformed female characters in animated film.
Ornithologist Caroline Van Hemert felt unfulfilled in her lab, so she and her husband made a bold decision: they would make a 4,000 trek from the Pacific rainforest to the Alaskan Arctic, immersing themselves in nature and, hopefully, recapturing their sense of wonder. In The Sun Is A Compass, Van Hemert tells the story of their journey — which included rowboats, canoes, and rafts, skis, and sturdy hiking boots — and both the dangers and joys they faced along the way. This celebration of nature and of the human spirit is a reminder of the miracles all around our world.
Susan Rice's family were immigrants on one side and descendants of slaves on the other, and her elders had expectations that each generation would seize whatever opportunities they could. Rice did so, becoming one of America's youngest assistant secretaries of state during the Clinton administration and, later, a trusted advisor to President Obama. But after the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks in Libya, she was mischaracterized by those both for and against her. In this memoir, Rice tells her own story in a candid and often funny way — and uses it to urge her nation to seek unity and be the leaders the world needs.
When 28-year-old Stephanie Land discovered she was pregnant, she had to shift gears from her plans to go away to university. She was determined to provide a good life for her child, and that meant taking work as a cleaner, applying for government assistance, and taking classes online at night. In this powerful book, Land writes about the realities of life as one of the working poor — and about what it's like to be simultaneously necessary to the life of upper-middle class America, and disdained by them. Her book is not just a personal story; it's also a reminder of the strength it takes to survive and thrive when you live as a "servant" worker.
Ryan Dostie grew up in a sheltered Christian cult in Connecticut, but she took the bold step of joining the Army when she graduated from high school, wooed by a recruiter with promises of a career that incorporated her gift for languages. She found work she loved in the army, but she also found a male-dominated world where she was decidedly not welcome. It was also a world where, when she was raped by a fellow soldier, her accusation could be "unsubstantiated" despite evidence of the attack, and where a combat tour in Iraq could leave her with PTSD. This is a story that is messy and undefinable, just like real life often is, but conveys a powerful message about pushing forward through trauma and proving — and believing — your worth.
Françoise Frenkel dreamed of opening a bookshop, and in 1921, the Polish-born Jew realized that dream by opening La Maison du Livre, Berlin's first French bookshop. But around her, Nazi ideology was taking root. By 1935, she was facing bureaucratic obstacles and book confiscations — and although La Maison du Livre was spared during Kristallnacht in 1938, she knew she had to escape. Paris, her first stop, turned out to be no safer, and as she ran from one safe house to the next, Françoise witnessed the horrors of war first hand. This compelling account, originally published in 1945, was rediscovered almost sixty years later. Now, this story of courage and survival is available as a reminder of the evil of hate and oppression and as an inspiring testament to human resilience.
In the midst of World War II, it appeared that the Nazis were unstoppable — especially with almost every man in England already fighting on the front. So the Special Operations Executive took a bold step and recruited women as spies. Thirty-nine women answered their call, including Andrée Borrel, Odette Sansom, and Lise de Baissac. In D-Day Girls author Sarah Rose draws on recently declassified documents, diaries, and more to create a compelling portrait of these three women and their motivations for risking everything in order to make the D-Day invasion possible — and pave the way for the Allied victory.
When Susan Straight, a book nerd and future author, married Dwayne Sims, an African American basketball player, their new combined family bore the legacy of many indomitable women. On Sims' side, there were stories of women fleeing violence in post-slavery Tennessee or Jim Crow Mississippi — or in their own homes, from abusive husbands and fathers. On Straight's side, there were women from Switzerland, Canada, and Colorado who pushed for new futures in strange lands. In this social history, Straight explores how the legacies of these women have affected her own family — including her three daughters. This powerful and thoughtful book is a celebration of courageous women and the American dream.
Melissa Isaacson loved sports, but for years she'd been turned away from boys' teams. That changed in 1975, when she entered Niles West High School in Chicago as a freshman. Title IX was three years old, and for the first time, Illinois was implementing teams and tournaments for high school girls. Missy found herself on the basketball team with a group of other girls who were overjoyed at being able to play, and for whom sports became a refuge from challenges and frustrations at home and elsewhere. Isaacson tells this remarkable story about the power of athletics and finding your community with vigor, capturing the exciting moment that a group of girls first heard they were state champions.
At the beginning of 1939, Polish teenager Renia Spiegel began a diary, a confidante "who would never reveal my secrets." Her writing would also become a chronicle of the beginning of World War II. Separated from her mother when the German and Soviet armies invaded Poland, Renia tried to continue life as usual, and her diary became the place where she could explore her desire to be a writer, capture the daily dramas of teenage life (including falling in love with her boyfriend, Zygmund), and recount her fears about the war. Her diary ends in July 1942, with a note from Zygmund, after she was murdered by the Gestapo. Now translated from the original Polish, this incredible historical document brings Renia to life once again, and serves as a reminder of what we lose through hatred and war.
As long as she's been in the public eye, Demi Moore has wrestled with doubt and insecurity. Even as she rose to fame and became the highest paid actress in Hollywood, she questioned her value — and struggled with body image, addiction, and trauma. In this compelling and frank memoir, Moore opens up about her past and her present; about the difficulty of finding a place to belong when you're constantly being followed (and torn apart) by tabloids; and about the power of choosing your own path. It's a unique look at an often-private woman's inner life that celebrates resilience and urges readers to remember that they are all good enough.
Ruth Reichl started poring over Gourmet magazine when she was 8 years old, but when Condé Nast offered her the role of editor in chief for the food magazine, she struggled with whether to accept it. She thought of herself as a writer, not a manager, and she worried about entering the corporate world. Still, the chance to work for the magazine that inspired her was too tempting to pass up — and she helped transform Gourmet into a cutting-edge publication. In her memoir (complete with recipes), Reichl describes what it was like to work for Gourmet, the remarkable personalities she met there, and what she did when her passion led her to unexpected places.
Julie Yip-Williams was a survivor, even as a newborn; because she was born blind, her grandmother tried to euthanize her. Then, in the late 1970s, she and her family fled the turmoil of her birth country of Vietnam in a rickety boat. When she finally made it to America, Julie's sight was partially restored by a surgeon; she got a law degree from Harvard; and she married and had children. And then at 37, she was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. In her struggle to find clarity and peace, she put pen to paper, telling her life story and chronicling the joys, pains, and strangeness of life, illness, and death. It's a potent account that encourages readers to face each day head-on, confident in the knowledge that life — and its end — is a miracle.
In 1127, Henry I of England made an unusual decision and recognized his daughter, Matilda, as his official heir. Despite this, after her father died, her cousin claimed the throne, easily swaying the barons who doubted a woman's ability to rule. They had little idea just who they had crossed. Matilda never sat on the throne, but her son did, and every English and British monarch since has had her blood in their veins. In this detailed biography, author Catherine Hanley explores Matilda's role as a leader — both political and military — during the succession crisis. It's a unique look at a powerful but little-known figure of the English Middle Ages.
When T. Kira Madden was a child, her father moved her and her mother into a life of privilege in Boca Raton, including private schools, designers shoes, and more. But her "perfect" life on the surface hid ugliness underneath: an alcoholic and abusive father, a mother addicted to painkillers, and a culture where she felt more like an object than a person. Eventually, though, she found a community of other fatherless girls — friends she could rely on, and people who sparked a queer awakening. This lyrical book about simultaneously mourning a father and recognizing his deep flaws also explores finding love — and the strength to rebuild yourself — in unexpected places.
Patti Smith, National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, returns to the story of her life in this book about one transformative year: 2016, the Year of the Monkey. It's a wandering year for Smith, who travels alone through California, Arizona, Kentucky, and more, along the way meeting strangers and visiting old friends and mentors. She blends imaginary and remembered places into her story, as well, creating a poetic mix of dream and reality. Throughout, Smith reminds readers that there is a better world out there — even if you have to wander to find it.
Susan Sontag was a suburban girl who made it in the big city, and left a spectacular legacy of writing. She was present for some of the biggest moments of the 20th century, but behind the determined public face there was insecurity, struggles with sexuality, and moral debates about how to respond to her country when it stepped on the wrong path. In this stunning volume, complete with nearly one hundred images, Benjamin Moser draws on Sontag's restricted archives and interviews with people who have never spoken publicly about their relationships with Sontag before to create a stunning portrait of a groundbreaking figure from American culture.
Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman grew up poor in Appalachia, but she was determined to strive for a career as a violinist. When she finally made it to an Ivy League college, she was not good enough for their music program — but she did get a position in an ensemble... without an audition. It turned out that the "orchestra" she played for was a fraud; all the music is played by a CD, coordinated by The Composer, who tricked his audiences into believing it's real. Hindman explores her interior struggles with her identity and ambitions in this funny and stranger-than-true memoir that asks pointed questions about gender and why our culture is so content with fakes.
Elaine Stritch was a Broadway star, a powerful singer, and an innovative entertainer beloved by audiences in both America and Europe. This book traces her life from a childhood in Detroit during the Great Depression, to a definitive (but uneven) rise to fame on Broadway and in London's West End, to her Tony Award-winning one-woman show, and finally to a surprising new career on TV in shows like Law & Order and 30 Rock. Author Alexandra Jacobs drew on meticulous research and years of interviews to create this detailed, intimate, and exuberant look at a woman who was part wit and charm, part darkness, but always a spellbinding entertainer.