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Searching for the Amazons: The Real Warrior Women of the Ancient World

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  244 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Since the time of the ancient Greeks we have been fascinated by accounts of the Amazons, an elusive tribe of hard-fighting, horse-riding female warriors. Equal to men in battle, legends claimed they cut off their right breasts to improve their archery skills and routinely killed their male children to purify their ranks.

For centuries people believed in th
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 27th 2018 by Pegasus Books
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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 ·  244 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Anna Stephens
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly fascinating look, not only into the myths, legends and evidence for Amazons, but also what defined them as such and then, throughout history, examples of these being shown in the centuries since.
With tangents taken into art, the Renaissance, Romanticism, religion and empire-building, John Man has introduced groups of women throughout history I'd never heard of and found to be fascinating.
From the Scythians to the Sarmartians, the Dahomey (now Benin) ahosi to the Russian Night Witc
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting book on women in history.

Review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

For the first few chapters of this book, I thought I would be comparing it to Adrienne Mayor’s The Amazons. It aimed to take a long hard look at the truth behind the legends, and dispel the myths. The initial chapters mimic Mayor’s first chapters, delving into the etymology of ‘Amazon’ (and why it does not mean ‘single-breasted’), the culture and society of the Scythians, and the archaeological finds of women warrior graves, the evidence of battle wounds, and the weaponry they were buried with. So far,
Sarah Nelson
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disappointing. I expected an in-depth look into the myths from ancient times regarding the Amazons. It started out that way & there is occasionally such sprinkled throughout the book but I was annoyed that the book is mainly the author's (quite negative & contemptuous) opinion on whatever subjects the writing tends to run off to (which happens frequently). I was also annoyed by the assumption of reader stupidity. Yes, obviously we all know a race of superhuman goddesses did not exist. Ye ...more
Rebecca Hill
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastically written!

This book takes on the history, or lack thereof, of the women of the Amazon. I enjoyed the read! Not only do you get the myths, the legends, and the stories passed down, but what history is there is shared. John Man did a great job with this book, and I look forward to getting a hard copy of this book, to re-read and make notes in the margins! Great jumping off book for those who are looking to do some research or wanting to gain a deeper understanding of these
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. The content was great, but the writing wasn’t.

This book can tell you just about everything you ever wanted to know about Amazons; it explores the myths of warrior women from Ancient Greece and after, but it also chronicles actual groups of women fighters from throughout history. It shows what was real and what wasn’t, and it offers some very detailed glimpses of a few key moments. This book is also meticulously researched. That said, the writing is difficult to follow. The
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I feel like I owe an apology to the author. I must admit that when I picked this book up, it was with a slowly creeping sense of dread at a book about the sociological significance of the Amazonian legends being written by a man . However, this book was delightfully feminist (and hilarious) in everything from the threat the Amazons posed upon the Greek’s fragile masculinity in the original myth, to the way that women warriors in several Eurasian cultures baffled early archaeologists, to the way ...more
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was more than I thought it would be! Besides just tracing the potential sources of the ancient Greek myth of the Amazons - the all-female society of warriors - this book traced the waxing and waning of the myth throughout the centuries, explained how the Amazon river got its name, how the legendary horseback archery skills of the Amazons and other horse tribes of the Steppes have made a resurgence, and explored female warrior societies/groups in the recent past (including an army of vi ...more
I enjoyed the first half of the book wherein the author discusses the mythic Amazons of ancient Greece (from the historical writings of Herodotus) and the actual woman warriors of the Sycthian peoples of historic Central Asia. The archeological finds from Scythian burial mounds, often referred to as kurgan, sound fascinating. These finds make a good case for the warrior women on horseback who road equal to men as mounted archers, swooping down on the ancient Greek settlements around the Black Se ...more
Jessie Scott
Despite the subtitle, this was less about the famous Amazons of Greek legend and more about the way that the idea of an exclusively female warrior society has been interpreted and adapted by different cultures over the centuries. The narrative was informal and conversational but did feel clunky in places, with the author frequently going off on tangents. However, these threw up some really interesting tidbits - I especially liked the story of how California got its name. Worth a read for sure.
Steven Clark
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have always been intrigued by Amazons, and even wrote a novel where they figured, and John man's subject and credentials made me take the book. it is a witty, erudite tale of this mythic/real tribe of warrior women, and Man uses his past experience writing about China, Mongolia, and central asia to good effect, showing their origins in Scythia, and also farther east. He has a delightful style demonstrating the mythos and recent excavations of possible tombs of Amazons, as well as deviating int ...more
Bea Harvie
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what I was expecting when i first bought this book - I though it looked interesting but as I'm not a big non-fiction reader I didn't think beyond 'interesting'. This book is an exploration of myths, hearsay, assumptions, archaeology, anthropology, feminism and Greek and a myriad of other subjects. it was well written, witty and entirely suitable for a layperson who only picked the book up because the mythology behind the Amazon's sounded like it might be fun. John Man drops comments ...more
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I got this book as a Goodread's Giveaway and I really enjoyed it. The book was easy to read and flowed well. I hope in the final version the pictures are of a better quality and it would help if they were closer to the relevant sections in the book. It was interesting to follow the path of the myth of the amazons from the Greeks to present and how it influenced culture.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well researched book that didn't just limit itself to the ancient legends of the tribe of Amazons - who were just a number of days ride 'thataway' or had interacted with some legendary king of Greece, Persia and even the rulers of Rome.

The author does seem to jump about but in the long run, it is a coherent and orderly flow from the ancient to the more modern. He first disabuses the legend of their removing their right breast in order to make sword fighting and archery. Basically, it
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is not the type of book that I usually read but I really enjoyed it!

I picked this book up at my local library because the title caught my attention. I was hoping it would be somewhat factual but not so dry and boring. This book is not a dry research thesis but it also isn't a fictionalized romp either. This feels like you are sitting down with the author, for tea or a beer or wine, and asking him what he has been working on recently. That balance between academic and action pack
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
An amazing book!!
an entertaining!
The author reveals he cannot guarantee the truth of history of Amazon women warriors
70% of the book reveals the characters of Amazon women warriors living without men, mastering in archery and horse riding killing men's as well as male child rear only female children's and teaching them archery and horse riding
Then comes the real women's living like a Amazon women's Miss Raskova an Russian women who took part in world war 2 and her team Nic
Sophie Le
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book has a broad scope but lacks tonal consistency. The first half is very solid--Man does a great job tracing the myth of the Amazon back through time, using both historical and archaeological records. The second half, in which Man discusses examples of Amazon-esque society in history and pop culture, is less cohesive. It's really hard to tell where he's going, and after the buildup in the first half, it feels anticlimactic and uninteresting. Form aside, however, Man's research is solid and ...more
Kathleen McRae
Sep 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was an enjoyable and interesting read but in reality seemed to be searching for the reason why these amazonian myths arose. Most interesting fact was they did not slice off a breast so they could shoot an arrow straighter.Myths are usually based on part fiction and part real life although to me the story of life about women as told by men usually contains far less fact than fiction and is usually designed to lessen them as humans.
Stacy Luebke
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Amazons through history vs mythological Amazons. If you like a survey of the absurdities of men’s imagination about Amazons contrasted with actual women warriors past and present, pick it up. But if you’ve already done some serious study on the subject there’s nothing earth shattering here and a lot of focus on Amazon’s mythical mutilated breasts. It can be wearing to have the mutilated feminine image constantly interjected into the mythos.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
To be honest, I'm not quite sure how I feel about this book. It's definitely not what I expected. If you're looking for a book that focuses on the history/legend of the Amazons, you won't find it here. At least I didn't. This book has plenty of interesting facts about history in general, but the Amazons seemed to be on the outer fringes of each chapter. Some sections of the book are very well done. Others are boring and I had a hard time getting through it.
Morgan Golladay
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Man impressed me with his research AND his sense of humor. He explores various myths and legends, from Ancient Greece, to the steppes of Central Asia, to the new world, and brings the idea of a community of women up-to-date with modern examples from the 20th century. Lively at times, Man nonetheless maintains a scholarly approach to a myth that has stood in our collective conscience for millennia.
Jacob Petrossian
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a well researched biography of the so-called 'Amazons', which stretch from the Caucasus, South America, 20th Century North America and the Modern day middle east. I like how John Man does chip in his own opinion throughout the book but not enough to make you think he is being self righteous.
Kiki Z
Jun 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
First off, this books needed a better editor. The sentence structures veer towards run-on sentences, filled with commas and parentheses. Long, drawn out, repetitive sentences don't make reading the book easier. Two, the first few chapters are basically a protracted version of myths that anyone who has read anything about Greek mythology already knows. I gave up at that point.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this, though it's not what I expected. Given the subtitle, I thought there would be more exploration of how the Greeks thought about the Amazons and the 'real' Scythian Amazons, though a lot of it focussed on Amazon-like women in modern history. That's not to say it wasn't interesting, but the different chapters could have been linked together better.
Brandy Arena
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
I didn't hate this book, but I didn't love it. I had a really hard time "getting in" to this book. One of the few books that I have ever given up reading without finishing. Nothing like I expected it to be, of course, I may have given up too soon.
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Basic history of female warriors from the Asian steppes who may have inspired the legend of the Amazons in Greece. That we should have been more interesting and more involved in the actual archaeology.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About the myths of the Amazons, the evidence found about them, also highlighting fascinating cultures in which women have played a significant or major role in governance and war.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A much-needed take on the Amazons in history, myth, and legend, one that attempts to place them within history, and the spirit of the Amazons in other fighting female groups over time.
Laura Tanager
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really informative, and fun to learn about various Amazonian legends in human civilizations.
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John Anthony Garnet Man is a British historian and travel writer. His special interests are China, Mongolia and the history of written communication. He takes particular pleasure in combining historical narrative with personal experience.

He studied German and French at Keble College, Oxford, before doing two postgraduate courses, a diploma in the History and Philosophy of Science at Ox