Monday, April 09, 2007

Book Review: Las Soldaderas by Elena Poniatowska

Martin Winchester reviews Elena Poniatowska's Las Soldaderas.

Women in combat may seem a recent phenomenon to some, but to students of the Mexican Revolution the role of women in battle has long since been known. For nearly a century, though, these soldaderas have been buried deep in the background of nostalgia, far behind more recognizable figures such as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata.

Celebrated Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska brings these heroines of history to the forefront with a summary of their contributions accompanied by an impressive collection of black and white photographs in Las Soldaderas.

The term soldadera originates from the word for the salary soldiers paid female servants to carry out domestic chores while they were in camp, on the road, or away in battle. Gathering firewood, making tortillas, and making sure gunpowder didn’t get wet quickly turned into actual fighting as the male casualties climbed and the ranks of revolutionists were depleted.

The book brings to life some of the most impressive participants of the Mexican Revolution.

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