I love books like this, books that remind us of the powerful women who came before us, successful or not, and broke down glass ceilings before the term was ever invented. They remind us that the problems we face today with women and power aren’t new or nearly as nuanced as people want to believe. I especially love Cooney’s telling of it. She ties these women of the past to women today and the ways that women have become heads of state and the result of their leadership in their countries. She reminds the reader that women have always had to tread carefully when in power as she tells us the story of the six queens of Egypt.
Cooney tells us the circumstances under which each queen rose to power or was asked to step in and how her reign went, the good and the bad. She doesn’t sugar coat things, but she does make it plain that these were special circumstances in a patriarchal society and the treatment of these women was not the same treatment the men received as pharaohs, much like today. The comparisons made throughout the book bring to mind the reasons we study history in the first place and therefore the reason we need more focus on a little herstory.
These stories are important to know. They need to be studied. We need to see the patterns that are still happening and we need to figure out how to overcome them if we ever want to reach parity. We also need to understand the shoulders we stand on. When we don’t know the shoulders we stand on, we can’t understand the where we are, how we got here, what to do next, or how best to honor those who came before us. These are six remarkable women, few of which who have gained any notoriety in our time.