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Staff Favorites Julia's Pick: When Women Ruled the World

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When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt

By: Kara Cooney
Trade Paperback
Staff Favorites

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Why I love it:

As a long time lover of ancient history and a reader with a finicky record when it comes to finishing nonfiction titles, this book stood out to me immediately as one that could break my bad habit of getting halfway through a nonfiction book before stopping and never finishing. It was one thing to know abstractly that Ancient Egypt did have female pharaohs, but another entirely to take a deep dive into these women who actually ruled with absolute power. Cooney brilliantly explains why these woman were able to ascend the throne, what their rules did for Ancient Egypt, how each built off the precedent set by the other, and why their lives matter today. This book kept me interested and entertained all the way through and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone with even a passing interest in Ancient Egypt or ancient history in general.


This riveting narrative explores the lives of six remarkable female pharaohs, from Hatshepsut to Cleopatra--women who ruled with real power--and shines a piercing light on our own perceptions of women in power today.

Female rulers are a rare phenomenon--but thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, women reigned supreme. Regularly, repeatedly, and with impunity, queens like Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra controlled the totalitarian state as power-brokers and rulers. But throughout human history, women in positions of power were more often used as political pawns in a male-dominated society. What was so special about ancient Egypt that provided women this kind of access to the highest political office? What was it about these women that allowed them to transcend patriarchal obstacles? What did Egypt gain from its liberal reliance on female leadership, and could today's world learn from its example?

Celebrated Egyptologist Kara Cooney delivers a fascinating tale of female power, exploring the reasons why it has seldom been allowed through the ages, and why we should care.

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