Sisters in Arms

Female warriors from antiquity to the new millennium

Sisters in Arms cover

Sisters in Arms

Female warriors from antiquity to the new millennium


A history of female combatants, from those who joined the military disguised as men to the current role of women in the armed forces.

In October 2018, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that all roles in the military would now be open to women. Although this marks a historic shift, officially allowing British women into combat roles, the presence of women on the front lines dates back to antiquity. Beginning with the founding myth of the Amazons--in reality female warriors of a nomadic tribe to whom the Greeks attributed super-heroic powers--Julie Wheelwright explores the history of women in arms. She traces our fascination with these figures, many of whom successfully disguised themselves as men, using primary sources and their own words to bring their experiences vividly to light. Among these forgotten heroines are Christian Davies, Ireland's most famous 18th-century soldier, who received poems from adoring women claiming that she represented a resurgence of "the Amazonian race"; Sarah Edmonds, who left her native Canada and was among hundreds of women to enlist on both sides during the American Civil War; Maria Bochkareva, a private in the Tsar's army and leader of the Women's Battalion of Death in 1917; and Captain Flora Sandes, hero of the Serbian Army, who toured Australia, thrilling her audiences with tales of bravery and patriotism.

The book follows the evolution of women in combat, from the Scythian women who begat the Amazonian myth, to the passing women in the eighteenth century, and on to the re-emergence of women as proud members of the armed forces in various countries in the 20th and 21st centuries. The book also explores the formalization of women's military roles and questions the contemporary relationship between masculinity and combat.

Table of Contents


1: The Persistence of a Phenomenon
2: The Founding Myth of the Amazons
3: Enlisting
4: Life Among the Men
5: The Denouement
6: Back to Civvy Street
7: The Legacy
8: Daughters of Warriors
9: Komsomol Girls to Facebook Icons

Select Bibliography

Product details

Published Feb 18 2020
Format Hardback
Edition 1st
Extent 320
ISBN 9781472838001
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Illustrations 16pp plate section in b&w
Dimensions 9 x 6 inches
Series General Military
Short code GNM
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


Julie Wheelwright

Dr Julie Wheelwright is a senior lecturer in the E…


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