Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey / Edition 1

Amazons of Black Sparta: The Women Warriors of Dahomey / Edition 1

by Stanley B. Alpern, James Newman, Douglas R. Hofstadter
     
 

History is rife with tales of fighting women. More often than not, these stories prove more legend than history. Dating back to the amazons of ancient Asia Minor, myths of fierce, autonomous women of martial excellence abound.

And yet, the only thoroughly documented amazons in world history are the women warriors of Dahomey, an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century

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Overview

History is rife with tales of fighting women. More often than not, these stories prove more legend than history. Dating back to the amazons of ancient Asia Minor, myths of fierce, autonomous women of martial excellence abound.

And yet, the only thoroughly documented amazons in world history are the women warriors of Dahomey, an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Western African kingdom. Once dubbed a "small black Sparta", the kingdom of Dahomey shared with Sparta an intense militarism and sense of collectivism. Moreover, the women of both kingdoms prided themselves on bodies hardened from childhood by rigorous physical exercise. But Spartan women kept in shape to breed male warriors, Dahomean amazons to kill them. Originally a praetorian guard, the Dahomeans developed into a force 6,000 strong and were granted semi-sacred status. They lusted for battle, fighting with fury and valor until the kingdom's final defeat by France in 1892.

Stanley B. Alpern has chronicled this remarkable history in depth for the first time. The product of meticulous archival research, Amazons of Black Sparta is defined by Alpern's gift for narrative and will stand as the most comprehensive and accessible account of the woman warriors of Dahomey.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814706787
Publisher:
New York University Press
Publication date:
12/01/1998
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Map
The Kings of Dahomey
Introduction1
1A Mock Battle13
2Origins of Dahomey16
3Origins of the Amazons20
4Why Dahomey?36
5Recruitment38
6Celibacy41
7A Privileged Life48
8What They Wore52
9Their Weapons61
10How Many Amazons?72
11Where They Lived76
12Military Training87
13Building Esprit de Corps106
14Earning a Living132
15Making War138
16Early Amazon Battles165
17Abeokuta 1851174
18Abeokuta 1864180
19Years of Success186
20France vs. Dahomey, 1890191
21France vs. Dahomey, 1892198
Epilogue208
Notes212
Bibliography262
Index273

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