They Went Whistling: Women Wayfarers, Warriors, Runaways, and Renegades

They Went Whistling: Women Wayfarers, Warriors, Runaways, and Renegades

4.7 4
by Barbara Holland
     
 
In her spirited account of willful women from Cleopatra to Mother Jones, Barbara Holland reanimates rebels both known and unknown who thrived doing the unexpected.

Her remarkable book–part history, part spicy op-ed–will acquaint you with the likes of Grace O’Malley, a blazing terror of the Irish seas in the 1500s, and surprise you with a

Overview

In her spirited account of willful women from Cleopatra to Mother Jones, Barbara Holland reanimates rebels both known and unknown who thrived doing the unexpected.

Her remarkable book–part history, part spicy op-ed–will acquaint you with the likes of Grace O’Malley, a blazing terror of the Irish seas in the 1500s, and surprise you with a fresh perspective on legends like Bonnie Parker of “Bonnie and Clyde.” Whether they struck out for noble causes or simply due to sheer boredom, Holland not only brings these adventurers irresistibly to life, but in so doing makes a compelling case for the virtue of getting into trouble.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
It's always exciting and inspiring to read about those amazing women who were the first to assert their independence, to make their own way, to carve their own path. Barbara Holland brings us the stories of these groundbreakers, from the well known (Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Amelia Earhart, George Sand, and Isadora Duncan) to the lesser known (uncrowned Iraqi queen Gertrude Bell, Victorian anthropologist Daisy Bell, and American pirate Anne Bonny). All of Holland's historical sagas are presented with humor, elegance, and delightful perception.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A girl-power version of women's history, Holland's entertaining book chronicles the lives of women who have defied convention by daring to live as career criminals, soldiers, artists and religious seekers. The individual descriptions of female renegades--from Irish rebel Grace O'Malley to novelist George Sand and Bonnie Parker (of Bonnie and Clyde) are breezily pleasurable. Holland (Endangered Pleasures; Bingo Night at the Fire Hall) maintains a droll tone ("Few husbands would rather have their wives seek truth than cook dinner") and juggles a range of historical examples with ease. The book's energy is hampered, however, by the author's sometimes simplistic rationales for why many women have stayed closer to home: "Even if she has neither job nor children, what will become of her house and garden without her, and will her cat starve and her friends forget her?" Holland's concluding complaint--that "careers... keep women in line more effectively than policemen or repressive husbands"--may strike some readers as overstated, as will her general lament for our "lost" sense of adventure, given that a large number of her heroines are queens, amazons, spies and outlaws (hardly role models the average woman can emulate). Still, hers is a brisk, enjoyable volume, likely to draw fans of such women's adventure books as Linda Greenlaw's The Hungry Ocean. (Feb. 20) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Deriving its title from the old rhyme "A whistling woman and a crowing hen/Both will come to no good end," this snappy book proves that whatever their ends, adventures of women who whistle in the face of convention can make for outstandingly entertaining reading. These true stories of some of history's "willful wildlings" include both the famous (Cleopatra) and the lesser-known (the religious pilgrim Alexandra David-Neel, who walked in disguise to Tibet) in a wide range of endeavors, from piracy to social reform. With the pace of a music video, the style of a gossip column, and the wit of a Molly Ivens, these stories should prove irresistible even to teens with short attention spans and a reluctance to read history. The breezy "Acknowledgments" page perhaps describes Holland's attitude best: "The author is greatly indebted to all those genuine biographers whose patient work she has shamelessly plundered." Despite its irreverent style, the content is well researched and the author's positions-particularly concerning the unreliability of historians throughout the ages-are solid and defensible. Holland owes much to feminist scholars, particularly in the chapter "Menswear," an excellent introduction to the political and cultural meanings of gender-defined clothing, and in her insightful comments on the malleability of history. Finally, Holland raises interesting questions about what would constitute "whistling" nowadays. It is doubtful that any teen who reads this book would again make the mistake of assuming history to be dull-or to think it is written in stone.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Deliciously ironic, reliably brainy, steadily informative…a jubilant hop, skip and jump toward rectifying the omission of women from the historical record.”–Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“With humor and style, Holland reveals lives fraught with excitement, danger, passion [and] intrigue.”–USA Today

“Deliciously ironic, reliably brainy, steadily informative . . . a jubilant hop, skip and jump toward rectifying the omission of women from the historical record.” –Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“With humor and style, Holland reveals lives fraught with excitement, danger, passion [and] intrigue.” –USA Today

“Luxuriating in tales worth retelling . . . [Holland] gives herself free rein to speak her mind and break the rules.” –The Washington Post

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375420559
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/13/2001
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.57(h) x 1.07(d)

Read an Excerpt

Throughout history there have been women, endowed with curiosity and abundant spirit, who stepped out of the cave, cast off the shackles of expectation, and struck out for new territory. In this ode to bold, brash, and sometimes just plain dangerous women, Barbara Holland reanimates those rebels who defied convention and challenged authority on a truly grand scale: they traveled the world, commanded pirate ships, spied on the enemy, established foreign countries, scaled 19,000-foot passes, and lobbied to change the Constitution. Some were merry and flamboyant; others depressive and solitary. Some dressed up as men; others cherished their Victorian gowns. Many were ambivalent or absentminded mothers. But every one of them was fearless, eccentric, and fiercely independent. Barbara Holland evokes their energy in this unconventional book that will acquaint you with the likes of Grace O’Malley, a blazing terror of the Irish seas in the 1500s, and surprise you with a fresh perspective on legends like Bonnie Parker of “Bonnie and Clyde” fame. With wit, wisdom, and irreverent flair, They Went Whistling makes a compelling case for the virtue of getting into trouble.

Meet the Author

Barbara Holland is the author of several books, including
Endangered Pleasures. She lives in western Loudon County, Virginia.

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