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Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey [Paperback]

Stanley B. Alpern
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Book Description

April 11 2011
This volume examines the "Amazons", whose existence has been verified via documents and eye-witness accounts from battles for the West African kingdom of Dahomey in the 18th and 19th centuries. Originally palace guards, the Amazons had evolved by the 1760s into professional troops armed mainly with muskets, machetes and clubs. Theoretically wives of the king and quartered in his palaces, they were actually sworn to celibacy on pain of death. In compensation they enjoyed a semi-sacred status and numerous privileges, including the right to own slaves. By the 1840s their numbers had grown to 6000. The Amazons served under female officers and had their own bands, flags and insignia: they outdrilled, outshot and outfought men, became frontline shock troops and fought with ferocity and fearlessness till the kingdom's final defeat by France in 1892. This text is based on years of detailed archival research and includes more than 20 line drawings and photographs.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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'...and today they [the Amazons] exist as no more than footnotes to history. Only one scholarly work has been written about these women, Amazons of Black Sparta by Stanley B. Alpern.' -- Stieg Larsson, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest 'Alpern has written an impressively comprehensive study covering all aspects of this extraordinary military force - he describes them in fascinating detail - Altogether he has made an important scholarly contribution to the history of nineteenth-century West Africa in which the Amazon achievement has until now been scarcely mentioned.' -- Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Stanley B. Alpern worked as a sub-editor for the New York Herald Tribune and then as a foreign service officer of the United States Information Agency for twenty-two years. He lives on the French Riviera. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just Amazons... Jan. 25 2003
We are talking about female soldiers with their own officers and uniforms, formed into units and trained to fight with muskets, machetes and their bare teeth. The first part of the book covers these subjects, plus the physical and insensitivity training they had to help them overcome pain and increase discipline.
The second part deals with their history in battle from their first use against other tribes to their last battles against the French before the kingdom's downfall.
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