Book Review: Wild Women of Boston by Dina Vargo

Author: Dina Vargo
TitleWild Women of Boston
Publication Info: Charleston, SC : History Press, 2015

This slender volume is chock full of stories of about two dozen women of Boston who bucked the societal norms of their sex and made an impact of history.  These women include leaders, innovators, and activists, but they also include witches, madams, and murderers.  Examples of the former include Revolutionary political writer Mercy Otis warren, art collector Isabel Stewart Gardner, celebrity chef Julia Child, and groundbreaking marathon runner Kathrine Switzer.  One of my favorite chapters is called Biker Babes and tells the story of women who biked their way into history in the late 19th-century bike craze, including Kittie Knox whose cycling skill had to break through segregation in addition to other barriers.  Some of the other stories are more sordid, but all are well-researched and entertaining and arranged chronologically from colonial times to the present day.  The author is a colleague of mine from Boston By Foot, so I may be biased, but I think I’d recommend this collection of important Boston women regardless.
Recommended books: Massachusetts Troublemakers by Paul Della Vale and Eminent Bostonians by Thomas H. O’Connor
Rating: ***1/2

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