Book review: Wonder Women by Sam Maggs

I findexully intended to post this review before this dreamy little book went on sale, but alas, I failed. Anyway, that will not stop me from telling you I loved it and hugged it and called it George, to use a reference that marks me as an old. Sam Maggs has put together a really impressive and easy-to-read reference of badass ladies throughout the world’s history. And it includes some lovely illustrations of those ladies by Sophia Foster-Dimino, who also did that rad cover.

The book is divided into five sections: Women of Science, Women of Medicine, Women of Espionage, Women of Innovation and Women of Adventure. We get tightly written essays in a light, conversational tone, packed with information about the lives of women from varying countries and across the centuries. It’s refreshing to read about someone who’s from 1200s China or 1800s India or black Americans being amazing in the 1940s alongside the usual Ada Lovelaces and Marie Curies (who are, and obviously should be, included). There are plenty of women of color and a good amount of LGBTQ+ ladies, too. The things all these women were up against are infuriating and frustrating, and it makes them all the more remarkable.

One of the really delightful aspects of this book is the way Maggs packs in as much info and as many ladies as she can. The cover promises 25 women, but she includes way more than that. Each section has five essays of a few pages each, but then includes meaty paragraph-length introductions to many more ladies at the end. Those are followed by Q&As with women currently working in each category. It’s a great way of bringing all those historical women into immediate and sharp context. We’ve come a long way in many aspects, to be sure, but there is still quite a ways to go before equality is reality.

This book gets many thumbs up from me, is what I’m saying. It’s written in a way that is inviting and accessible to anyone of any age or gender, though Maggs does lean more toward speaking woman to woman. The illustrations are a really nice addition, too. It would make a great gift for just about anybody, if you’re looking to get some holiday shopping done early. And, good news! Since I am posting late, you can just buy it already!


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