• by Adrienne Mayor
  • Narrated by Fran Tunno
  • 16 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Amazons - fierce warrior women dwelling on the fringes of the known world - were the mythic archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Heracles and Achilles displayed their valor in duels with Amazon queens, and the Athenians reveled in their victory over a powerful Amazon army. In historical times, Cyrus of Persia, Alexander the Great, and the Roman general Pompey tangled with Amazons.
But just who were these bold barbarian archers on horseback who gloried in fighting, hunting, and sexual freedom? Were Amazons real? In this deeply researched, wide-ranging book, National Book Award finalist Adrienne Mayor presents the Amazons as they have never been seen before. This is the first comprehensive account of warrior women in myth and history across the ancient world, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Great Wall of China.
Mayor tells how amazing new archaeological discoveries of battle-scarred female skeletons buried with their weapons prove that women warriors were not merely figments of the Greek imagination. Combining classical myth and art, nomad traditions, and scientific archaeology, she reveals intimate, surprising details and original insights about the lives and legends of the women known as Amazons. Provocatively arguing that a timeless search for a balance between the sexes explains the allure of the Amazons, Mayor reminds us that there were as many Amazon love stories as there were war stories. The Greeks were not the only people enchanted by Amazons - Mayor shows that warlike women of nomadic cultures inspired exciting tales in ancient Egypt, Persia, India, Central Asia, and China.
Driven by a detective's curiosity, Mayor unearths long-buried evidence and sifts fact from fiction to show how flesh-and-blood women of the Eurasian steppes were mythologized as Amazons, the equals of men. The result is likely to become a classic.


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Customer Reviews

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Warning: Images NOT Included

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This book references and gives detailed discussions of images throughout. There are MANY color plates, b/w images, and maps that are, unfortunately, NOT included for download. The verse surrounds the visuals, and they should be experienced in unison. It is difficult to fully comprehend without being able to see what is being referred to.

Otherwise, I LOVE this book... and really want to see the images. I submitted a request for a PDF file... Audible responded that my "feedback has been forwarded to the proper department so it can be reviewed and taken into consideration".

The book is $16 on kindle, $21 hardcover.

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- Linda

Exceeds expectations. I promise. By a lot.

This book is fantastic. This is tangible, human, personal scholarship fused with the fascinating, potent history of "Guns, Germs & Steel." It's the same duration, actually, yet it doesn't drag like GG&S because the entire book is focused squarely on people, painted vividly. Seriously, I don't remember the last time I found a history book this good.

The Greek myths are, of course, myths, but Adrienne Mayor pulls together a multitude of ancient sources - writers and artists in equal measure - and 21st century archaeology to assemble a picture of the real, powerfully egalitarian ethic group behind the legendary women warriors. It's like having an enthusiastic guide walk you through a living museum of Amazon attire, weapons, lifestyle, history, portrayal, recreation, and sex (except you can't see the artifacts she's pointing to, but you'll get over it).

Adrienne Mayor does a champion job of unpacking what the Greeks wrote about the Amazons in their histories and myths, what the people they called the "Amazons" were most likely like, and_why_Greek and later accounts differ from the probable reality.

For example, some writers in the last couple centuries B.C. and the first few A.D. claimed that the Amazons maimed their male infants. Adrienne Mayor, in response:
1. Puts forward several reasons why men of the regions ascribed to the Amazons may have had high rates of hip dislocations, broken leg bones, and consequent limps.
2. Provides historical, bio-archaeological, and bio-ethnological support for these explanations.
3. Suggests why male Greek writers listening to travelers' tales would have jumped to the conclusion that the injuries were inflicted on the men by the women at birth.
4. Keeps an interesting narrative running through the whole thing.

Unfortunately, the narrator has a tone and inflection which reminds me of the recorded women's voices which make announcements in airports and other high-traffic buildings. The last sentences of paragraphs sound as though she's smiling as she's speaking and deliberately wrapping the sentence up and tying a bow on top. My opinion is, of course, subjective, so listen and decide for yourself.

The only other problem is that I listened to this before I read anything else relating to the Amazons. Now I catch myself grinding my teeth whenever I hear or read about the Amazons amputating/cauterizing their right breasts or whenever a (well-meaning) feminist refers to the Amazons as existing only as a male fantasy of power and validation. Breasts don't get in the way of archery unless your bow is big enough to draw to well behind your head and "the Amazons" were an actual people group. Please stop ignoring them - they practiced your principles!
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- David M.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-21-2014
  • Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books