Review: Powerful Women Who Ruled the Ancient World by Kara Cooney

Title:  Powerful Women Who Ruled the Ancient World

Author: Kara Cooney

Genre: Nonfiction, Ancient History

Format: Audiobook

Length: 5 hrs and 45 mins

Date Read: May 2, 2020

4 stars
4 stars – It was really good

This audiobook is broken down into twelve lectures that discuss women in power in the ancient world, what power is, the different types of power there are and people in power are viewed and remembered differently because of their sex. 

Kara Cooney does an amazing job at breaking down the history of women in power and the different types of power they wielded. Here are some of the women discussed in these lectures: Merneith (Egypt), Puabi (Sumerian), Hatshepsut (Egypt), Deborah (Isreal), Jezebel (Isreal), Athaliah (Isreal), Aspasia (Athens), Artemisia (Greek), Hypatia (Egypt/Roman), Empress Lu (China), and Cleopatra (Egypt). A few of these ancient Egyptian women are mentioned and discussed in more detail in Cooney’s previous books, The Woman Who Would Be King, and When Women Ruled the World.  

The lectures focus on how these women wielded their power and for what reason. The majority seemed to be centered around family. They rose to power as regents over their sons and controlled their worlds through them. These women frequently met an untimely end and it is unclear how much of their legacy is the truth because of the slander made against them.  I found it all to be fascinating and very informative, especially since quite a few of these women I had never heard of. 

One of the facts that surprised me was that in ancient Greece true love was viewed to only be between a man and a man, never a woman and a man. This was fascinating because while I knew male/male coupling was a part of Greek culture I didn’t realize it was so widespread and actually expected. 

Overall, this was a fascinating audiobook. I loved learning about all these different women and their rises to power. I do recommend you check out Cooney’s other books as well, especially if you like learning about Egypt. They go into greater detail about these women, especially Hatshepsut.


Goodreads / Amazon



2 thoughts on “Review: Powerful Women Who Ruled the Ancient World by Kara Cooney

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