Hannah Jewell's She Caused a Riot: 100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, and Massively Crushed It, contains - as you might imagine - exactly that.
A collection of the life stories of "unknown" women of history, ranging from famous ladies who fought tyrants, to those who overturned gender norms; from those who made their name printed in ink, to those who wrote it in blood. Spanning continents and centuries, Jewell has truly pulled from the history books to find names that get little to no coverage in mainstream culture.
Of course, there were obviously some I recognized. Ida B. Wells, Cheng Shih, Phillis Wheatley, Hedy Lamarr, and Nellie Bly have all been favorites for a long time, some since my middle school days. Still, the amount of ancient and audacious historical figures, to recent fearless females who helped topple governmental systems, protected their people, broke with tradition, and otherwise significantly rocked the boat, was a really impressive feat.
This was done in a way that was meant to deliberately appeal to a young-ish audience. Not quite those whose interests might otherwise be suited with books like Elena Favilli and Francesca Cravallo's Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which skews for the elementary age. Instead, Jewell's She Caused a Riot, is geared more for high schoolers or college kids. Even though it contains a lot of the same names as Ann Shen's Bad Girls Throughout History, this one doesn't really come with pictures.
What I'm saying is, this book is one in a long list of many similar titles that have been published in the past year, detailing these kinds of stories... but the others you might purchase definitely don't come packed with this much slang, euphemism, or downright naughty details involved. PG-13, rating, kiddos.
To best translate the style of writing, essentially, it's as if a transcript of Drunk History was printed in a slightly more edited-down format. (The author was a staff writer for Buzzfeed UK, after all.) Humorous and engaging, but also lacking in consistent detail and maybe containing more than one inappropriate aside, these stories hold up the lives of these oft-overlook champions of history,
The popularity of these kinds of books has definitely been shaped by our political climate... because, in this kind of atmosphere, how the hell could it not be? One of the most telling elements of it, are the differences in title between the US and UK editions: while us Yanks get She Caused a Riot: 100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, and Massively Crushed It, those across the pond get a more direct reference to the genus of this particular project, with 100 Nasty Women of History: Brilliant, Badass, and Completely Fearless Women Everyone Should Know. While the US version includes frequent use of the phrase "nasty women" in the introduction, it's fascinating that the US publishers wouldn't seek to use the same title across both publishing markets.
Final Verdict: All in all, a fun and surprisingly informative read, featuring the stories of really unique and exciting historical personalities, though the style did get fairly tedious after a point. Definitely would consider picking up a copy for myself or another her-storically-minded friend, though it would have to be one with a good sense of humor!
What's your favorite feminist read? Were you a history fan growing up? Let me know, in the comments below!