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Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics

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A commemoration of brave yet largely forgotten women who served in the First World War

In time for the 2014 centennial of the start of the Great War, this book brings to life the brave and often surprising exploits of 16 fascinating women from around the world who served their countries at a time when most of them didn’t even have the right to vote. Readers meet 17-year-old Frenchwoman Emilienne Moreau, who assisted the Allies as a guide and set up a first-aid post in her home ...

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Women Heroes of World War I: 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics

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A commemoration of brave yet largely forgotten women who served in the First World War

In time for the 2014 centennial of the start of the Great War, this book brings to life the brave and often surprising exploits of 16 fascinating women from around the world who served their countries at a time when most of them didn’t even have the right to vote. Readers meet 17-year-old Frenchwoman Emilienne Moreau, who assisted the Allies as a guide and set up a first-aid post in her home to attend to the wounded; Russian peasant Maria Bochkareva, who joined the Imperial Russian Army by securing the personal permission of Tsar Nicholas II, was twice wounded in battle and decorated for bravery, and created and led the all-women combat unit the “Women’s Battalion of Death” on the eastern front; and American journalist Madeleine Zabriskie Doty, who risked her life to travel twice to Germany during the war in order to report back the truth, whatever the cost. These and other suspense-filled stories of brave girls and women are told through the use of engaging narrative, dialogue, direct quotes, and document and diary excerpts to lend authenticity and immediacy. Introductory material opens each section to provide solid historical context, and each profile includes informative sidebars and “Learn More” lists of relevant books and websites, making this a fabulous resource for students, teachers, parents, libraries, and homeschoolers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A fine survey of major events in WWI and a case study in the types of social changes that often occur because of war, this book is an ideal candidate for both research and recreational reading." —Booklist 

“Atwood’s writing brings vivacity to the inspirational contributions made by women in the First World War. Their strength and independence in mind and body should make people today believe that anything is possible.” —Lucy Moore, project curator, World War I at Leeds Museums

"Author Kathryn J. Atwood tells the stories using engaging narrative and dialogue, and utilizes quotes from historical documents and personal diaries. She has done a great job of providing enough information to satisfy a history buff while writing in a style that will satisfy anyone who likes to read a good story." —

"The fast-paced narratives recounts the suspense-filled stories of these exceptional women." —The Nonfiction Detectives

"With interesting sidebars explaining important details in the stories, such as the use of poison gases in warfare or the popularity of the song "Over There," and with a generous use of photographs, Women Heroes of World War I is a good introduction to the war that started 100 years ago for readers of any age. It is also a helpful addition to the literature of women's studies. Look for it to be popular in school and public libraries." —

"In sharing these stories, Atwood has done the women featured a great service—letting their lessons in courage live on a century later. She also has done her reader a great service—reminding them that nothing, and particularly not gender, need stand in the way of courage." —Chicago Review of Books

"In short, Atwood’s book is a reflection of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, and deserves its place on the bookshelf of anyone who is truly interested in the history not only of World War I, but also of womankind itself." —

“No word, picture, or sidebar is wasted in this collection of elegant, accessible biographies, which together form a coherent history of a too-long neglected window on World War I.” —Elizabeth Wein, award-winning author of Code Name Verity

“Moving, surprising, and highly readable, these portraits shine a light on 16 brave and determined women whose contributions to the First World War deserve to be celebrated.” —Duncan Barrett, bestselling author of The Sugar Girls

“Alongside their sisters toiling on the home front were women who served with exceptional valor at the front: from innovative medics to hard-bitten soldiers, from spies to enterprising journalists. Kathryn Atwood’s fascinating survey helps reset our perceptions of women in the Great War” —Peter Doyle, author of The First World War in 100 Objects

“Atwood captures a range of wartime experiences across multiple countries in this excellent volume.” —Tammy M. Proctor, author of Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War

“Exciting, well-written, and fast-paced, Women Heroes of World War I will interest, educate, and inspire young adults interested in the Great War. Especially recommended for school classrooms and libraries.” —William A. Hoisington Jr., professor emeritus of modern European history, University of Illinois at Chicago

School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—In this collective biography, Atwood chronicles the wartime exploits of 16 distinctive women from the United States, Europe, and Australia. The book is well balanced, covering women from the Central and Allied powers. Content is organized by the type of job the women performed—and there were many: resisters and spies, medical personnel, soldiers, and journalists. Their great contributions are made more vivid with Atwood's engaging narrative. Shepoints out that while there were ideological, social, and economic differences among the women, there was also a commonality uniting them: patriotism. Readers get an idea of the intensity of these women's fervors through the quotes from diaries, letters, and interviews. Gabrielle Petit, a young woman who worked as a spy for Belgium, wrote in a letter, "My country! I did not think enough of it! I almost ignored it. I did not see that I loved her. But since [the enemies] torment her, the monsters, I see her everywhere. I breathe her in the streets of the city, in the shadow of our palace…she lives in me, I live in her. I will die for her singing." Woven throughout the stories is the larger history of the war itself—the causes, battles won and lost, and outcomes. Occasional black-and-white archival photographs, especially those depicting the women, add interest and immediacy.—Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Libraries, NC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781613746868
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/2014
  • Series: Women of Action Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 116,684
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1210L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathryn J. Atwood is the author of Women Heroes of World War II and the editor of Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent. She has contributed to War, Literature, and the Arts;; and Women’s Independent Press. She lives near Chicago.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted June 16, 2014

    When most people think of World War I, (if they even know what i

    When most people think of World War I, (if they even know what it is) the first things that come to mind are trenches and the famous picture of the Archduke and his wife moments before their (accidentally-on-purpose) assassination. Unfortunately, no ones thinks about a young French teen who gave food and information to British soldiers, a young nurse helping gas victims, or female soldiers. As a major (WWII) history buff, I believe history should be taught with people, not boring dates and facts in history books. After all, the entire war wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for the men and women during that time, and studying people’s stories bring life to history, and allow it to be presented in the interesting way it is.
    I became a huge fan of Kathryn Atwood when I read her first book, Women Heroes of World War II, and was also impressed with the WWII memoir she edited, Code Name Pauline. Although WWII remains my primary area of interest, I decided to give WWI a try and was quite happy I did. I can now officially say I know 16 amazing women from the time period!

    Part of the “Women of Action” series written for teens and young adults, Women Heroes of World War I is a collection of 16 short biographies about women from World War I.  The biographies are divided into four parts; Resisters and Spies, Medical Personnel, Soldiers, and Journalists. The women featured are: Edith Cavell, Louise Thuliez, Emilienne Moreau, Gabrielle Petit, Marthe Cnockaert, Louise de Bettignies, Elsie Inglis, Olive King, Helene Gleichen, Shirley Millard, Maria Bochkareva, Flora Sandes, Marina Yurlova, Ecaterina Teodoroiu, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Madeleine Zabriskie Doty.
    Very few stories are both interesting and factual. But, Atwood, a great storyteller and historian, manages to just this by drawing stories from key sources. Each story is well-researched, and instead of just boring facts about the person’s life, includes stories about the person, which makes each story more personable, instead of just another great random person in a history textbook. There is nothing graphic, making this most ideal for teens but appropriate for mostly anyone. A lot of background information is included for each part, making the book a lot more understandable and easily read, without complicated jargon. The writing is simple, making it more interesting.
    Pictures are included for every single woman, so we can easily associate a face (and living person) with the name and story. One of the main things I enjoyed about  Women Heroes of World War II, was additional resources after each story, the series’ biggest perk. This allows me to look more into the women I found most interesting. (My favorite stories were the resisters and spies, of course! I’ll definitely have to check out some of the additional resources listed)
    Although WWI isn’t nearly as interesting in WWII, that doesn’t mean WWI’s brave heroines should go overlooked. I can’t say I enjoyed this one as well as I did Atwood’s earlier works, but that’s simply because Irena Sendler and Diet Eman (and a lot of the other women who I love) will always be my heroes. :) But, for a subject I’m not really interested in, I really did enjoy it and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for well-researched but interesting alternatives to boring textbooks!
    Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way effected my review.

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