A Pirate’s Life for She: Swashbuckling Women Through the Ages

Chicago Review. Oct. 2019. 224p. bibliog. index. notes. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781641600552.
Gr 7-10–In each chapter, Duncombe draws from legends and official records to situate a female pirate in history and explore her motivations for setting out on a life of swashbuckling. Ranging from notorious figures like Grace O’Malley and Anne Bonny to lesser-known women like Norse princess Alfhild and Muslim ruler Sayyida al-Hurra, the pirates covered here come from different eras and corners of the world. The author’s passion for feminism and women’s empowerment underscores each page of this book. She acknowledges the complexity of celebrating women who committed crimes and hurt people yet broke societal barriers to chart their own paths in life. Although the book is packed with details, it lacks some of the back matter that would strengthen its usefulness as an information text. Additionally, the author’s suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter include books that seem more geared toward academics than young adults. Though readers seeking a historical overview of female pirates will be drawn in by the wealth of material here, the dry storytelling may not appeal to general readers.
VERDICT This informative YA companion to 2017’s Pirate Women will resonate with readers who are already interested in the subject of pirates throughout history.

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