Amazons of Black Sparta, 2nd Edition: The Women Warriors of Dahomey by Stanley Alpern
The only thoroughly documented Amazons in world history are the women warriors of Dahomey, an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Western African kingdom. Once dubbed a 'small black Sparta, ' residents of Dahomey shared with the Spartans an intense militarism and sense of collectivism. Moreover, the women of both kingdoms prided themselves on bodies hardened from childhood by rigorous physical exercise. But Spartan women kept in shape to breed male warriors, Dahomean Amazons to kill them. Originally palace guards, the Amazons had evolved by the 1760s into professional troops armed mainly with muskets, machetes and clubs. By the 1840s their numbers had grown to 6,000. The Amazons served under female officers and had their own bands, flags and insignia: they outdrilled, outshot and outfought men, became frontline troops and fought tenaciously and with great valor till the kingdom's defeat by France in 1892.
Updated with a new preface by the author, Amazons of Black Sparta is the product of meticulous archival research and Alpern's gift for narrative. It will stand as the most comprehensive and accessible account of the woman warriors of Dahomey.
Table of Contents:
Preface -- Preface to the Second Edition -- Illustrations -- Map -- The Kings of Dahomey -- Introduction -- 1. A Mock Battle -- 2. Origins of Dahomey -- 3. Origins of the Amazons -- The Elephant Huntresses -- The Royal Twins -- Policewoman to Soldieress? -- Guards of King and Palace -- As Troops -- 4. Why Dahomey? -- 5. Recruitment -- 6. Celibacy -- 7. A Privileged Life -- 8. What They Wore -- Ornaments and Charms -- 9. Their Weapons -- Accoutrements -- 10. How Many Amazons? -- 11. Where They Lived -- Tononu and KangbodE -- 12. Military Training -- Physical Education -- Insensitivity Training -- 13. Building Esprit de Corps -- Dance, Song and Music Making -- What They Sang -- Symbols and Rewards -- Alcohol and Tobacco -- 14. Earning a Living -- 15. Making War -- Spies and Diviners -- Mobilization -- Order of Battle -- Surprising the Enemy -- Food and Shelter -- The Attack -- Amazons in Combat -- Casualties and Captives -- 16. Early Amazon Battles -- 17. Abeokuta 1851 -- 18. Abeokuta 1864 -- 19. Years of Success -- 20. France vs. Dahomey, 1890 -- 21. France vs. Dahomey, 1892 -- Epilogue -- Notes -- Bibliography -- Index.
Contributor Bio:Alpern, Stanley B
Stanley B. Alpern worked as a sub-editor for the New York Herald Tribune and then as a foreign service officer of the United States Information Agency for twenty-two years, two of which were spent in West Africa. He lives on the French Riviera.