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The Most Evil Women in History

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  569 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
This book details the lives and careers of fifteen women whose crimes have, at one time or another, stained the pages of history. Parricide, fratricide and, most terrible of all, infanticide; murder under trust; serial murder, including the stalking and killing of men; torture, persecution, massacre and judicial murder; sexually motivated killings; murders for gain or to c ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published August 20th 2003 by Michael O'Mara Books Ltd (first published January 1st 2003)
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Jan 31, 2016 Reese marked it as stopped-reading
It's time for me to shelve this book. Perhaps it has a future as a reference book, but I haven't really sold myself on that possibility.

Why am I abandoning this work? The facts that Shelley Klein presents are often -- quite often -- uninteresting. I had hoped for an analytic treatment of the material; this text is, alas, more like a collection of chapter-length encyclopedia entries than studies of the behavior of the wicked. Furthermore, the author's writing style irritated me. The work seems t
Feb 21, 2009 Stacy rated it it was ok
Don't ask me why I read books like this. I am drawn to understanding the dynamics of wretched people. I also have an unhealthy fascination with hoarders and gypsies. Don't ask me why, I can't even give my husband a satisfying anwer. Anyway, not great writing or anything but interesting, especially for a History major. For instance, did you know that that Elena Ceausescu (wife of Communist leader of Romania from 1967-1989) made it a law that all women under the age of forty needed to have at leas ...more
Oct 18, 2009 Cheryl rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: True crime fans
I've always loved true crime, much to the concern of my parents, so I was all about reading this book. Sadly, it failed to deliver, and instead of the most evil women in history, the author serves up a few women worthy of being called the most evil in history, some who need serious help, and a few whose crimes were nowhere near horrible enough to qualify them to be included. The Canadian maid from the 1800's who, along with a guy she worked with, killed one man and attempted to kill his lover is ...more
Aug 08, 2011 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Not the best historical work on evil people. Interesting subject matter and interesting approach. I liked her approach of explaining the background of these women before their crimes. The problem is that Klein sometimes uses a woman's depraved husband as an excuse, when that may not have been geniunely the case.

The one "evil" woman I disagree with is Catherine the Great, but that's because after studying Russian history I don't believe she was one who hated her people. Catherine the Great was ou
Nov 27, 2016 Lori rated it liked it
This book isn't the best-written book. but it's pretty entertaining. It reads like an episode of Snapped, but that's part of the appeal in a weird way? It's a quick, fun read. I really liked it.
Nov 11, 2015 Amelia rated it really liked it
I found this book interesting, at times gruesome and disturbing, but interesting none the less. Some of the women included I felt were rather tame considering. They committed heinous acts to be sure, but they did not seem to be at the level of some of the others. It was your typical book of mass murdering psychopaths and serial killers (which in the female category they are admittedly few compared to their male counterparts). I can't say that the writing was particularly impressive, nor was it b ...more
Megan Bodwell
May 16, 2011 Megan Bodwell rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Eh. I'm addicted to true crime stories and in particular the psychological aspects of heinous crimes. I was intrigued by the title, but unfortunately, this book didn't really deliver as promised. If these are the "most evil women in history," then we are doing pretty good as a gender. A few of the women were new to me. I realize that to go in depth with each of these women would take a whole book unto themselves, but at best this was just a smattering of facts that justified the author's includi ...more
Mar 03, 2011 Kayla rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-read
This was an interesting, but by no means comprehensive, collection of historically devious females. It seems, however, like it was merely a collection chosen by choice rather than for sheer maliciousness. I know that Klein states her justifications for her selections in the introduction, but this just seems like it's chosen at random. Also, there were PLENTY of typographical errors in this book, and several factual errors, but it didn't really take away from the tone of the book. I suppose the t ...more
Oct 17, 2015 Ashley rated it liked it
This book was one of my Goodwill finds. One of my favorite topics is sociopaths to the dismay of my mom. I don't know, maybe it's the fact that I was a former psych major. I thought it would be all murders, it however covers female political leaders. The political leaders where someone a stretch as history is written by the winners. It is common place to make up horrible sexual lies of your previous political rivals. I enjoyed reading about the Canadian and UK serial killers profiles.

Do not rea
Luiza Cavalcanti
Mar 13, 2013 Luiza Cavalcanti rated it it was ok
Although an interesting book, it fails to delivers the promised: the MOST evil women in history. Some of these women deserve indeed the title, but others such as the on in the Little Falls case, can be classified in the most as having psychological problems or greed without limits.
What these women did was indeed heinous, but some of them were really tame in comparison to some others.
Some of the cases seems to stand on opinions and speculations rather that facts.
All in all is a fast and easy to
Feb 01, 2015 Sue rated it liked it
This wasn't what I expected at all but did have a few redeeming features though very few. The title should have been the most famous women who did evil things. That would have been more accurate. I didn't expect much detail in so small a book and we didn't get much. There were also very definite shifts in the style of writing which made me wonder who was actually doing the writing. I would recommend this book for those who want basic information on a few sensational cases that they can research ...more
Nancy D.
Jan 13, 2011 Nancy D. rated it liked it
This is a pretty alright book and is good for a quick, interesting read. The problem is that sometimes, within the context of their time and location (i.e. The Roman Empire), the women seem to engage in activity which was, although very immoral, somewhat commonplace. Are they really the MOST evil? But really, either way you look at it, none of these people are someone you'd let drive little Johnny and/or Sally to school.

Also, a lot of the book seems to include content based purely on speculation
Rowan MacBean
Dec 27, 2015 Rowan MacBean rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is going to be a short review. Pretty much, I hated this book. If you've read anything at all about any of these women, you won't learn a single new thing. And almost all of the "evil" acts were either things that can be explained by psychological problems that aren't the women's faults and could've been taken care of if someone had been paying attention, or things that would get men labeled as "assholes" instead of "evil" but somehow because it's a ~*woman*~ doing it, they're the devil inc ...more
Jennifer Chase
Nov 30, 2009 Jennifer Chase rated it liked it
This was an interesting book and was recently given to me by a friend. There were women killers included that I did not know about. The writing was informative, but it jumped around a bit in explanations and details. I felt that there should have been more current women included in this book for a solid overview of the psychology of women killers. For those of you who enjoy study in the warped minds of women killers will enjoy this read.
Apr 01, 2009 Jini rated it it was ok
Picked this up at Ed McKay's today (along with all the other new additions). Each chapter is dedicated to a different woman who committed some horrible acts. My only quibble is that it doesn't include either Lucretia Borgia or Elizabeth Bathory. On the plus side, it does include Karla Homolka, who fascinates me because of how she pulled off the battered woman thing during her trial when she was anything but! And she's now free on parole in her native Canada.
Aug 18, 2011 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decently-written and concise, this book contains relatively short accounts of some of the most horrific female killers/deviants throughout history. Interestingly, I found the modern women more horrifying, even when their crimes seemed less vile than that of their more historic counterparts. Perhaps the distance of history makes the crimes of those women seem less real? Unfortunately, it would not have seemed that way for their victims.
Jun 05, 2008 Samantha rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people with problems.
imagine my glee as i found this book sitting on the bargain table at barnes & noble. the appeal to buy it was heightened as a lady standing near me gave me a disapproving look due to my reading selection.

i think the book was written by someone outside of the U.S. and some word spellings (such as "defence") can be irritating. the book examines a selection of women, and some of the stories are quite graphic and disturbing. that is a lot coming from me.
Nov 23, 2008 Robert rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Like "The Most Evil Men in History," this book makes a couple of suspect claims, and is obviously meant as sensationalist filth, not rigorous, academic history. But then, when you sit down to waste a lazy Sunday afternoon, what better to do it with than sensationalist filth? I for one, enjoyed this book thoroughly, and the stories of the "evil" women within it.
Nov 05, 2008 Angel rated it really liked it
Shelves: squire-lvl
A great compilation of biographies on some of the most infamous women in history. Includes pictures of these villainous women to put a face with the name. Some of the stories really freaked me out, especially since they are true.
From Catherine the great to Rose West this is a very fascinating read.
M.A. Nichols
Oct 12, 2015 M.A. Nichols rated it it was ok
I find stories like these fascinating, but I have to say I didn't really enjoy this book. I think my favorite part of the book was the introduction, because the author made some interesting points about gender inequality when it comes to dealing with criminals. The biographies themselves were forgettable and I found myself questioning her choices in the "most evil women in history".
Aug 04, 2011 CinnamonHopes rated it it was ok
This book couldn't decide if it wanted to just list the facts, or editorialize on the cases, so it was a weird mixture of both. There was some off-puttingly bad grammar in places, and I felt as though I got about the same out of this book as I could have from an internet list of the same name.

It was an interesting read, but I wouldn't recommend it for anything other bathroom reading.
Sam Nagi
Apr 30, 2016 Sam Nagi rated it it was ok
A well put together book of facts. Mostly sourced from other publications but a small attempt has been made to give an opinion of the author.

The pictures in the books give descriptions alongside them which basically explain the whole case. This gives you the feeling of
"what's the point in reading the rest?"

Nevertheless interesting but not one I would pick up again.
Sezín Koehler
This book was absurd. Most of the women weren't evil at all, and quite a few had a male partner who appeared to me to be not only the instigator but the actual evil person involved. Aileen Wournos's presence was totally unnecessary and I am totally of the camp that she was not a serial killer at all, but rather killed out of self-defense. What an annoying and misrepresenting book.
Chris Demer
Jul 02, 2011 Chris Demer rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
This book was interesting and occasionally gruesome. Most of the women were familiar to me from other books e.g."Beyond Belief" and TV series. A few were new (Tz'uHsi, Queen Ranavalona)
Not particularly well written.
Danielle Marie
Jan 24, 2011 Danielle Marie rated it liked it
It was sensational and somewhat baffling in the choosing some of the time, but it was a good read, and I think that the author tried to have somewhat of a feminist tint on the subject despite it's provocative title.

Fangirl Musings
Feb 13, 2011 Fangirl Musings rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who doubts sin is real.
Recommended to Fangirl Musings by: Impulse buy
If one is capable of reading this particular work and not feel the sudden desire to vomit, said individual is stark ravingly insane.

Twisted, vile, and disturbing acts of inhumanity, rape, incest, murder, bloodlust, corruption, and deviancy are most assuredly not gender specific.
Mar 25, 2008 Kate rated it did not like it
Received this as a Christmas gift. Perhaps someone was trying to tell me something? This author must be the most woman-hating woman there is. The writing was poor, and the researching...well, she cited a work of fiction as one of her sources.

Poorly written and not interesting to read.
Apr 21, 2012 Geri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basic background information on some of the most notable "evil" women in history. You are able to get a glimpse at what may have influenced the women, but no deep psychological conclusions or illusions of why the women perpetrated the crime(s).
Robyn Motl
Aug 23, 2012 Robyn Motl rated it did not like it
Ugh! How one makes truly heinous crimes so painfully boring to read about is a mystery. Whether these women were evil or notorious or products of their society is completely lost in this mind-numbing account of the crimes of which they are accused. A sure cure for insomnia.
Aug 21, 2007 Heather rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who are rad
This was the best present I ever got. The last few chapters were the most disturbing of the evil women for me, so when I put down the book I felt uncomfortable and icky. But it was still the raddest book ever.
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