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   Amazons of Black Sparta
The Women Warriors of Dahomey
by Stanley B. Alpern
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Category: Women's Studies
Code: 442 |  ISBN: 0814706789 |  288 pp. |  Publication Date: 1998
Publisher: NYU Press
Format: Trade Paperback
About this book
History is rife with tales of fighting women. More often than not, these stories prove more legend than history. Dating back to the amazons of ancient Asia Minor, myths of fierce, autonomous women of martial excellence abound.

And yet, the only thoroughly documented amazons in world history are the women warriors of Dahomy, an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Western African kingdom. Once dubbed a "small black Sparta," residents of Dahomy shared with the Spartans an intense militarism and sense of collectivism. Moreover, the women of both kingdoms prided themselves on bodies hardened from childhood by rigorous physical exercise. But Spartan women kept in shape to breed male warriors, Dahomean amazons to kill them. Originally a praetorian guard, the Dahomeans developed into a force 6,000 strong and were granted semi-sacred status. They lusted for battle, fighting with fury and valor until the kingdom's final defeat by France in 1892.

Stanley B. Alpern has chronicled this remarkable history in depth for the first time. The product of meticulous archival research, Amazons of Black Sparta is defined by Alpern's gift for narrative and will stand as the most comprehensive and accessible account of the woman warriors of Dahomy.


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