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

A Pirate’s Life for She: Swashbuckling Women Through the Ages by Laura Sook Duncombe

Ebook review by Jeannette

“History is not an immovable concept; it can be changed based on who is writing it down. What is said about a person is controlled by the person telling the story. When only white men are allowed to write about women, women are not portrayed as fully as they could be.” Laura Sook Duncombe

First things first, what in the world is swashbuckling? According to the New Oxford American dictionary a swashbuckler is “a person who engages in daring and romantic adventures with bravado and flamboyance.”

In this biography the author takes a closer look at female pirates, which are hard to find in historical accounts, because “they don’t fit nicely into the categories of ‘normal’ women.” This book is not meant to glorify female pirates, but instead tries to explain and understand what drove these women to break their mold and decide to live outside their traditionally assigned roles of housewives, midwives or nuns.

In her book Duncombe separates these women into five categories depending on their motives: Revenge, Escape, Glory, Adventure and Power, it’s a bit textbook style. In each category she tells the stories of a few female pirates as best as can be construed from historical accounts, at times she does resort to myth or hearsay. She adds additional information about each of the women, within the chapter, to provide more context to their stories. At times some of the stories conflict and at other times what happened to them is unknown; keep in mind that some of these women lived as far back as the third century. Just in case these short stories have piqued your interest and you wish to learn more about your favorite pirate, the author provides a ‘Read More’ section at the end of each pirate’s story.

My personal favorite is Queen Teuta. Following the death of her husband she assumed the regency of the Ardiaean Kingdom. Her quest was the expansion of the Adriatic Sea making her a thorn in the side of the Roman Republic. She refused to submit to the Mediterranean superpower and instead went to war with Rome.

This book is full of remarkable stories of women who took control of their destinies in a world where the odds were against them and the authors hope is, to provide proof and inspiration to future generations of young girls.

“There has never been a better time in history to be a woman than right now. Women all over the world are seizing power, raising their voices, and refusing to back down. They are forcing the world to take notice of them. For tolerance and equality to continue to grow, stories must be told by the people the stories are about.” Laura Sook Duncombe