Lit. and a Latte

Books you'll want to devour… or not, as the case may be.

17 WOMEN WHO SHOOK THE WORLD by Preethi Burkholder

on 31/01/2013

17 womenI am always interested in a book profiling strong women from history. There is something so desirably important about remembering, and reminding others, that women were active participants in every stage of history since the dawn of time. Not only did women participate in world events, they were instrumental in constructing what we now call our shared history. There was never an era in our past when women were not present, be it in government, business, or religion. The roles of women in relation to men have changed significantly over time, but women were never absent from the goings on of the world.

Preethi Burkholder is a Sri Lanka-born graduate of Tufts university. She has devoted her entrepreneurial skills to improving the lot of women in her home country and abroad. In 2006 she started a website called Gifted Hands Writing where she gives advice about writing and student financial aid. To be honest, I was not impressed with the website. It looks a bit janky and is hard to navigate. The number of tabs at the top is overwhelming, making it difficult to discover what it is that Burkholder actually does.

Preethi Burkholder

Preethi Burkholder

I was not blown away by 17 Women Who Shook the World either. Like the website, the book has an unpolished, unprofessional tone, both in the writing itself and in the book’s overall structure. In the introduction, Burkholder states that the purpose of the book is to “Become informed about the thinking and behavioral patterns of 17 of modern history’s most amazing women will drive you, too, to take action to attract success into your life.”

At first glance, 17 Women comes across as a minimalist overview of some famous chicks we all learned about in our middle school text books. That’s about the depth of the biographical information provided for each woman. On the other hand, the information is posed as a sort of self-help book. “Have you ever wondered why some people seem to achieve success effortlessly while others just don’t?” This book has the answer for you! Or does it? The approach that one can become successful by learning about successful women is far too simplistic.

17 Women Who Shook the World is worth a flip-through. It might even be worth checking out from the library is you happen to come across it and you happen to pick it up and you happen to be in a the mood for a middle school self-help book about Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt. However, if you are a college graduate scholar interested in the complex feminist theories of film, history, and literature, I would recommend checking out Who Cooked the Last Supper: The Women’s History of the World by Rosalind Miles or Gail Collins’ America’s Women: 40 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines.


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