March is Women’s History Month!
The theme for Women’s History Month this year is Our History is Our Strength, and in honor of all the powerful foremothers in our lives, the Literary Duck is proud to feature these exemplary titles about remarkable women.
Edited By: David Emmanuel and Elaine Enarson
The transformative event known as “Katrina” exposed long-standing social inequalities. While debates rage about race and class relations in New Orleans and the Katrina diaspora, gender remains curiously absent from public discourse and scholarly analysis. This volume draws on original research and firsthand narratives from women in diverse economic, political, ethnic, and geographic contexts to portray pre-Katrina vulnerabilities, gender concerns in post-disaster housing and assistance, and women’s collective struggles to recover from this catastrophe. (Publisher’s Marketing)
Edited By: Hilda Twongyere
In this harrowing collection, women from rural Uganda tell their stories of rape, abuse, familial loyalty, and quiet courage. Those who shared their experiences with FEMRITE, the Uganda Women Writers Association, include former prisoners of war, women in polygamous marriages, child brides, those suffering from HIV/AIDS, small business owners, and in one of the books most moving sections, those enduring the humiliation of female genital mutilation. Habari suffers unspeakable pain and a month of bleeding after her circumcision, which leaves her infertile. Zayaga is shunned by her native village when she returns after being barred from her marital home in favor of her husbands co-wife. The Lords Resistance Army abducts Hakim and her classmates from their secondary school and assigns them husbands they must submit to or be killed for refusing. Told in voices that are alternately frank, impassioned, angry, resigned, and resilient, these stories underscore the plight of rural women in a patriarchal society, where the husband’s extended family tends to have control over the nuclear family, and where symbolic rites of passage, such as female circumcision, continue in secret. Highlighting the conflict between traditional and modern Africa, where women are beginning to speak out and seek legal advice, this is a heartfelt, inspiring book. (Publisher’s Weekly)
By: James D. McLaird
Forget Doris Day singing on the stagecoach. Forget Robin Weigert’s gritty portrayal on HBO’s Deadwood. The real Calamity Jane was someone the likes of whom you’ve never encountered. That is, until now. This book is a definitive biography of Martha Canary, the woman popularly known as Calamity Jane. Written by one of today’s foremost authorities on this notorious character, it is a meticulously researched account of how an alcoholic prostitute was transformed into a Wild West heroine. Always on the move across the northern plains, Martha was more camp follower than the scout of legend. A mother of two, she often found employment as waitress, laundress, or dance hall girl and was more likely to be wearing a dress than buckskin. But she was hard to ignore when she’d had a few drinks, and she exploited the aura of fame that dime novels created around her, even selling her autobiography and photos to tourists. Gun toting, swearing, hard drinking—Calamity Jane was all of these, to be sure. But whatever her flaws or foibles, James D. McLaird paints a compelling portrait of an unconventional woman who more than once turned the tables on those who sought to condemn or patronize her. He also includes dozens of photos—many never before seen—depicting Jane in her many guises. His book is a long-awaited biography of Martha Canary and the last word on Calamity Jane. (Publisher’s Marketing)
By: Caroline Moorehead
They came from all walks of life, and from all over France. Professionals and housewives, grandmothers and teenagers, they were drawn to or drawn into the Resistance, perhaps by a heightened sense of moral outrage, or just because their husbands, lovers, brothers needed their assistance. Ultimately, they would all come together in Nazi concentration camps, where the petty harassment they once endured as furtive members of undercover cells would wither in comparison to unimaginable horrors. As the war escalated, so did the savagery of their captors. Two hundred and thirty women began the journey into Hitler’s hell at the death camps at Birkenau and Auschwitz; by the time the Allies arrived to liberate them at Mauthausen, only 49 were left. Through primary interviews with the 7 survivors and other groundbreaking research, distinguished English journalist and biographer Moorehead (Martha Gellhorn, Lucie de la Tour du Pin) potently demonstrates how this disparate group of valiant women withstood the atrocities of the Nazi regime through their abiding devotion to each other. Heightened by electrifying and staggering detail, Moorehead’s riveting history stands as a luminous testament to the indomitable will to survive and the unbreakable bonds of friendship. (Booklist)
By: Yangzom Brauen and Translated By: Katy Derbyshire
The experiences of three generations of remarkable Tibetan women over the course of a century. Through the prism of her own life and that of her mother and grandmother, debut author Brauen illuminates a unique culture and its transformation under the repressive Chinese occupation of Tibet. Her story begins with the birth of her grandmother in the 1920s and concludes with the author’s career as an actress and her activities in support of Tibetan liberation. Her grandparents spent their early years as members of a secluded monastic community in Tibet. When their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled the country to escape Chinese repression, her grandparents followed with their two daughters. Although Brauen expresses great respect for her grandmother’s spirituality, she is by no means uncritical of life in old Tibet, which, she writes, “was not a utopian Shangri-La, the blissful paradise on earth that people in the West like to conjure.” The family’s journey across the Himalayas was harrowing. When they arrived in India, they faced the brutal circumstances of life in a refugee camp lacking decent sanitary facilities, food and drinking water. Many died, including her father and younger sister. Her mother and grandmother were fortunate to find work with a Swiss-supported charity for Tibetan orphans, even though her mother could only attend school for a few years. When her mother was 17, she met Martin Brauen—the author’s Swiss father—who had come to India to study Buddhism. After a prolonged courtship, they married and moved to Switzerland, taking her grandmother with them. It was there that the author and her younger brother were born. In 1986, the family visited Tibet for a joyful reunion with relatives. While recognizing that her grandmother’s Tibet is inevitably changing, for her the Dalai Lama remains a cherished example of transcendent Tibetan spiritual values.
An absorbing, multilayered account of the evolution of an enduring culture. (Kirkus Review)
By: Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman
Bartels was a native of Ghana living in the U.S., working as secretary to the Ghanaian embassy, when a relative called to give her startling news. Following the death of her uncle, a village king, the council of elders had determined that she would be his successor. Bartels, who’d come to the U.S. to study and had become a U.S. citizen, hadn’t been home since the death of her mother. But she accepted the daunting prospect with determination and brio. She would rule part-time, traveling between Washington, D.C., and Ghana. Bartels, along with coauthor Herman, chronicles her journey from secretary to king of the poor and isolated village of Otuam, 60 miles from the capital of Accra. She becomes reacquainted with distant relatives and her estranged husband as she juggles responsibilities such as refurbishing the modest palace, repaving roads, and burying her uncle before the ancestors can be offended all on fees collected from fishermen and a secretary’s salary. Balancing cultural differences and sketchy finances, Bartels finds within herself the strength to tackle poverty, tradition, and personal transformation. (Booklist)
By: Jack Weatherford
Though the prolific Genghis Khan fathered numerous sons and daughters, historians have dutifully recorded the foibles and follies of his male heirs while virtually ignoring the accomplishments of his female offspring. Weatherford seeks to remedy this glaring omission by providing a fascinating romp through the feminine side of the infamous Khan clan. Surprisingly, old Genghis himself seems to have been impressed enough by the leadership abilities of his womenfolk to want to reward some of them with pieces of his vast empire. At least four of his daughters became queens of their own countries, exercising power over their courts, their armies, and, of course, their families. Important linchpins in the Mongol Empire, these women supplied the balance of power necessary to appease fractious tribes and territories. Unfortunately, soon after Genghis Khans death, the female rulers were challenged by their male relatives, and the fragile bonds that held the Mongol Empire together quickly disintegrated. Ironically, it wasnt until the emergence of a new queen, two centuries later, that the once-mighty Mongol nation was reunited. Lets hear it for the girls. (Booklist)
By: Wilma Mankiller
In this rare and intimate glimpse at the resilience and perseverance of Native women, twenty indigenous female leaders—educators, healers, attorneys, artists, elders, and activists—come together to discuss issues facing modern Native communities. This illuminating book found its genesis with Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010), first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. Over a period of several years, Mankiller engaged indigenous women in conversation about spirituality, traditions and culture, tribal governance, female role models, love and community. Their common life experiences, patterns of thought, and shared values gave them the freedom to be frank and open, and a place of community from which to explore powerful influences on Native life.
Wilma Mankiller spent most of her life in the rural community of Mankiller Flats in Adair County, Oklahoma. Her lifetime of activism began in 1969, when she took part in the Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island. She became the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985, a position she held for ten years. Mankiller has been honored with many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and honorary doctorate degrees from Yale University, Dartmouth College, and Smith College. She passed away April 6, 2010, at her home on the Mankiller family allotment. (Publisher’s Marketing)
By: Rebiya Kadeer with Alexandra Cavelius
Along the ancient Silk Road where Europe, Asia, and Russia converge stands the four-thousand-year-old homeland of a peaceful people, the Uyghurs. Their culture is filled with music, dance, family, and love of tradition passed down by storytelling through the ages. For millennia, they have survived clashes in the shadow of China, Russia, and Central Asia. Rebiya Kadeer s courage, intellect, morality, and sacrifice give hope to the nearly eleven million Uyghurs worldwide on whose behalf she speaks as an indomitable world leader for the freedom of her people and the sovereignty of her nation. Her life story is one of legends: as a refugee child, as a poor housewife, as a multimillionaire, as a high official in China’s National People’s Congress, as a political prisoner in solitary confinement for two of nearly six years in jail, and now as a political dissident living in Washington, DC, exiled from her own land. (Publisher’s Marketing)