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Book Review: Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History’s Most Notorious Women by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

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Scandalous Women: The Lives and Loves of History’s Most Notorious Women by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon is a non-fiction book dedicated to… scan­dalous women. Each woman is featured in a short biographical chapter.

The book is divided into seven sections.

Section 1: Warrior Queens
Cleopatra, Boudica, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc, Grace O’Malley

Section 2: Way­ward Wives
Émilie du Châtelet, Lady Caroline Lamb, Jane Digby, Violet Trefusis, Zelda Fitzgerald

Section 3: Scintillating Seductresses
Anne Boleyn, Barbara Palmer, Emma Hamilton, Lola Montez, Mata hari

Section 4: Crusading Ladies
Anne Hutchinson, Mary Wollstonecraft, Rose O’Neal Greenhow, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Carry Nation

Section 5: Wild Women of the West

Mary Ellen Pleasant, Sarah Winnemucca, Calamity Jane, Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor, Margaret Tobin Brown

Section 6: Amorous Artists
Camille Claudel, Isadora Duncan, Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday, Frida Kahlo

Sec­tion 7: Amazing Adventuresses
Anne Bonney and Mary Read, Lady Hester Stanhope, Anna Leonowens, Gertrude Bell, Amelia Earhart

So you’re thinking: “What is a a man doing with this book”?
I’ll tell you: it is knowledge not uncommon that scandalous women (most of them anyway) are a favorite subject among men of many cultures and intellects – that’s what!

Scandalous Women by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon is the kind of book I loved as a young boy. No, not because of the scandalous women — that would come later — but because I always found this format of books fascinating and interesting. These type of short biographies allow me to know about each person and if I want, to research more about them.

Even though I read through this book, it is a book you can just pick up and read, then put down and pick up again a few days later since the chapters are short and are not related to one another. The book is also a must if you ever want to be on Jeopardy.

Ms. Mahon’s writing is succinct and she concentrates on the aspect of what made her subject so scandalous. Just keep in mind that the word “scandalous” is in context of the time those women lived in. While in today’s standards they might seem tame, in their lifetime they certainly weren’t.

Each chapter is easy to read and highlights the achievements and prominence of each woman. While Scandalous Women is by no means a comprehensive biography of its subjects, nor does it claim to be, it is a wonderful introduction to many historical figures.

A special note to the wonderful section headings (Scintillating Seductresses, Amorous Artists, etc.) – that’s something I used to do on my college papers and I appreciate the work, pun, wordplay and stylized humor wherever I go.

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