The mythical Amazons of Greek legend were probably inspired by eye-witness reports of female cavalry soldiers of the ancient Russian steppe. But most historical record of those fierce Sarmatian, Sauromatean, and Scythian civilizations, except for some recently excavated kurgans, has been lost to time. Over a million women fought in the Soviet armed forces in World War ll. And Eritrean women have been fully integrated in combat for the past thirty years in that impoverished nation's civil war with Ethiopia. Most women warriors have fought in gender-integrated regiments under male command. None have been so thoroughly documented as the all-female regiments of Dahomey amazons. Author Alpern has done a remarkable job of translating those documents for a comprehensive history of this once-splendid African kingdom. As early as 1729, European traders recorded existence of the fighting-women of the Fon (Dahomey people) and their neighbors the Ashanti. Originally retained as an elite royal guard, Dahomey amazons held semi-sacred status as celibate warrior "wives" of the King. They prided themselves on their hardened physiques and highly-trained martial skills, and constantly strove to outperform their male counterparts. During two centuries of raids and wars against neighboring kingdoms, Dahomeyan women increased their reputation as merciless undefeatable opponants. By 1890 they comprised over 30 percent of the Dahomey fighting force. With considerable bloodshed, and at cost of some 2000 amazons' lives, the Fon were finally defeated by the French Foreign Legion in 1892. The commanders of the Legionaires wrote admiringly of the "incredible courage and audacity" of the amazons, who did not flinch from superior French firepower and made the "ulimate sacrifice for their King". The last surviving veteran of the female regiments died in 1979, four years after Dahomey achieved independence and changed its name to Benin. Mr. Alpern's fascinating book has rekindled interest in the amazons, who otherwise might have faded into obscurity. Recently the bimonthly magazine "Military History" published an article, apparently based on material from the book, about the final battle between the Dahomey amazons and their French conquerers.