Forgotten Warriors: The Long History of Women in Combat (Hardcover)
The definitive history of women in war, revealing how women have always been an essential part of combat
From Boudicca’s rebellion to the war in Ukraine, battlefields have always contained a surprising number of women. Some formed all-female armies, like the Dahomey Mino of West Africa; some fought disguised as men; some mobilized in times of national survival, like the Soviet flying aces known as the Night Witches. International relations expert Sarah Percy unearths the stories of these forgotten warriors. She sets the historical record straight, revealing that women’s exclusion from active combat in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is a blip in a much longer narrative of female inclusion. Deeply researched and brilliantly told, Forgotten Warriors turns the notion of war as a man’s game on its head and restores women to their rightful place on the front lines of history.
Sarah Percy is associate professor at the University of Queensland. The author of Mercenaries, she completed her MPhil and DPhil as a Commonwealth Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.
“Truly impressive in scope and rigorously researched, this is a book that should be included in all military libraries.” —Marissa Moss, New York Journal of Books
“Percy expertly addresses the erasure of women’s involvement in war from a global perspective… Percy’s great strength is the impressive scope and detail of her research.” —Toronto Star
"Magnificently researched, Forgotten Warriors opens up and heightens intellectual landscapes. … Percy’s revelatory script upsets everything we have learnt, directing us to re-learning. It could not be more timely."—The Monthly
“In this colorful account… Percy profiles her subjects against a vivid backdrop of sieges, rebellions, and civil wars. Women’s history buffs will be thrilled.” —Publishers Weekly
"Beautifully written, Sarah Percy’s Forgotten Warriors is captivating from beginning to end. Women have long held important wartime roles—not as passive victims, but as soldiers and strategists. They departed the battlefield only in the mid-19th century, though female African warriors endured for a century more. Twentieth century women soldiers, snipers and pilots helped win both world wars, then were packed off to vanish at home. Percy’s engaging history shows us that allowing women to serve in combat today is nothing new: hoorah for a marvelous reminder of what they could do all along."—Audrey Kurth Cronin, Trustees Professor of Security and Technology, Carnegie Mellon University
“Forgotten Warriors carefully debunks the long-held myth that war is not women’s business. In this well-researched and insightful book, Percy deftly reveals examples of women warriors throughout history, demonstrating that the exclusion of women from the battlefield is a recent development. Today, the routine naming of women as ‘non-combatants’ erases their heroic deeds and keeps them out of positions of power and leadership in society. The idea that in war women stay safely ‘at home’ far from the conflict has never been true. Forgotten Warriors is an essential remedy to the marginalization of female soldiers, affirming that women are—and always have been—brave and capable fighters.”—Gwen Strauss, author of The Nine
“Percy has written the definitive history of women in combat. Rightly exposing women’s exclusion from the battlefield today as a key problem of our times, this eminently readable and provocative book completely reshapes how we think of the relationship between women and war.”—Charli Carpenter, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
"Percy provides an unrivaled examination into women at war. She lays to rest the myth that women do not fight, and corrects a historical amnesia that overlooks their role on the battlefield. This engaging book reveals that across the ages bands of brothers and sisters have marched together for victory.”—Sean McFate, author of The New Rules of War