Women of Courage

They have been strong in the face of adversity, daring to stand up for what they believe and often standing alone to accomplish what at the time may not have seemed extraordinary or history-making but in the context of historical perspective is awe-inspiring.

Little Pink House: A True Story of Defiance and Courage

By Jeff Benedict

Go to catalog
Susette Kelo was just trying to rebuild her life when she purchased an old house perched on the waterfront in New London, Conn. It wasn't fancy, but with hard work she was able to turn it into a home that was important to her. Little did she know that the City of New London, desperate to revive its flailing economy, wanted to raze her house and others along the waterfront in order to win a lucrative Pfizer pharmaceutical contract that would bring new business into the city. Kelo and fourteen neighbors refused to sell, so the city decided to exercise its power of eminent domain to condemn their homes, launching a case that ultimately reached the Supreme Court. Investigative journalist Jeff Benedict takes us behind the scenes of this case, and Kelo speaks for the first time about how one woman took on corporate America to save her home.
Reserve this title

The Journal of Hélène Berr

By David Bellos, translator

Go to catalog

The joyful but ultimately heartbreaking journal of a young Jewish woman in occupied Paris, now published for the first time, 63 years after her death. In 1942, Hélène Berr, a 21-year-old Jewish student at the Sorbonne, started to keep a journal, writing with verve and style about her everyday life in Paris--about her studies, her friends, her growing affection for the "boy with the grey eyes," about the sun in the dewdrops, and about the effect of the growing restrictions imposed by France's Nazi occupiers. Humiliations were to follow, which she records, now with a view to posterity. She wants the journal to go to her fiancé, who has enrolled with the Free French Forces, as she knows she may not live much longer. She was right. The final entry is dated February 15, 1944, and we now know she died in Bergen-Belsen in April 1945, within a month of Anne Frank and just days before the liberation of the camp.

Reserve this title

Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

By Liz Murray

Go to catalog

"...the stunning memoir of a young woman who at age fifteen was living on the streets, and who eventually made it into Harvard. Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. In school she was taunted for her dirty clothing and lice-infested hair, eventually skipping so many classes that she was put into a girls' home. At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled. She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep. When Liz's mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept. Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a New York Times scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League."

Reserve this title

Pink Boots and a Machete: My Journey from NFL Cheerleader to National Geographic Explorer

By Mireya Mayor; foreword by Jane Goodall

Go to catalog

"Who wears pink hiking boots into the jungle, packs a little black dress (because you never know), and tracks wild animals like she's stalking a cheating boyfriend? Dr. Mireya Mayor: Nat Geo WILD channel host, National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and primatological goddess who is redefining what it means to 'have it all' for a new generation of women. Pink Boots and a Machete tells the unlikely story of a first-generation Cuban-American girlie girl who forges her way from her uber-protected suburban upbringing to NFL cheerleader to death-defying adventures around the globe. With plenty of field studies under her belt, Mayor vividly details her own back-story and relives her most thrilling adventures. Whether she is diving with sharks or standing down a gorilla, this compelling and often hilarious memoir reveals her relentless determination, indomitable spirit, and above all, fierce love of animals and commitment to protecting them."

Reserve this title

Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World

By Glenn Stout

Go to catalog

In 1926, a plucky American teenager named Trudy Ederle captured the imagination of the world when she became the first woman to swim the English Channel. Stout offers the dramatic and inspiring story of Ederle's pursuit of a goal no one believed possible, and the price she paid.

Reserve this title

When Janey Comes Marching Home: Portraits of Women Combat Veterans

By Laura Browder, editor

Go to catalog

"While women are officially barred from combat in the American armed services, in the current war, where there are no front lines, the ban on combat is virtually meaningless. More than in any previous conflict in our history, American women are engaging with the enemy, suffering injuries, and even sacrificing their lives in the line of duty. When Janey Comes Marching Home juxtaposes forty-eight self-posed photographs by Sascha Pflaeging with oral histories collected by Laura Browder to provide a dramatic portrait of women at war. Women from all five branches of the military share their stories here--stories that are by turns moving, comic, thought-provoking, and profound.

"Seeing their faces in stunning color photographic portraits and reading what they have to say about loss, comradeship, conflict, and hard choices will change the ways we think about women and war. Serving in a combat zone is an all-encompassing experience that is transformative, life-defining, and difficult to leave behind. By coming face-to-face with women veterans, we who are outside that world can begin to get a sense of how the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have their lives and how their stories may ripple out and influence the experiences of all American women."

Reserve this title

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France

By Caroline Moorehead

Go to catalog

In January 1943, the Gestapo hunted down 230 women of the French Resistance and sent them to Auschwitz. This is their story, told in full for the first time--a searing and unforgettable chronicle of terror, courage, defiance, survival, and the power of friendship to transcend evil that is an essential addition to the history of World War II.

Reserve this title

Even Silence Has an End: My Six Years of Captivity in the Colombian Jungle

By Ingrid Betancourt

Go to catalog

"Ingrid Betancourt tells the story of her captivity in the Colombian jungle, sharing powerful teachings of resilience, resistance, and faith. Born in Bogota, raised in France, Ingrid Betancourt at the age of thirty-two gave up a life of comfort and safety to return to Colombia to become a political leader in a country that was being slowly destroyed by terrorism, violence, fear, and a pervasive sense of hopelessness.

"In 2002, while campaigning as a candidate in the Colombian presidential elections, she was abducted by the FARC. Nothing could have prepared her for what came next. She would spend the next six and a half years in the depths of the jungle as a prisoner of the FARC. Even Silence Has an End is her deeply personal and moving account of that time. Chained day and night for much of her captivity, she never stopped dreaming of escape and, in fact, succeeded in getting away several times, always to be recaptured.

"In her most successful effort she and a fellow captive survived a week away, but were caught when her companion became desperately ill; she learned later that they had been mere miles from freedom. The facts of her story are astounding, but it is Betancourt's indomitable spirit that drives this very special account, bringing life, nuance, and profundity to the narrative. Attending as intimately to the landscape of her mind as she does to the events of her capture and captivity, Even Silence Has an End is a meditation on the very stuff of life-fear and freedom, hope and what inspires it."

Reserve this title

Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War

By H. Donald Winkler

Go to catalog

Rebel queen of Washington spies : Rose Greenhow -- Vanished without a trace : Sarah Slater -- "Singing as sweetly as ever" : Olivia Floyd -- Grant's most valuable Richmond spy : Elizabeth Van Lew -- The spy who saved ships : Elizabeth Baker -- Double trouble sister act : Ginnie and Lottie Moon -- The perils of Pauline : Pauline Cushman -- The heroine of Winchester : Rebecca Wright -- A glorious consummation : Harriet Tubman -- A teenage terrorist : Nancy Hart -- "No sacrifice too great" : Antonia Ford and Laura Ratcliffe -- Mosby's Merry Christmas : Roberta Pollock -- A secesh Cleopatra : Belle Boyd -- The clever masquerader : Emma Edmonds -- Trapped in a sting operation : Clara Judd -- Sarah's deadly revenge : Sarah Lane Thompson -- Hired to find herself : Loreta Velazquez -- Beyond the call of duty : more heroines -- Did she die for their sins? : Mary Surratt.

Reserve this title

I Love a Broad Margin to My Life

By Maxine Hong Kingston

Go to catalog

"In her singular voice 'humble, elegiac, practical,' Maxine Hong Kingston sets out to reflect on aging as she turns sixty-five. Kingston's swift, effortlessly flowing verse lines feel instantly natural in this fresh approach to the art of memoir, as she circles from present to past and back, from lunch with a writer friend to the funeral of a Vietnam veteran, from her long marriage ('can't divorce until we get it right. / Love, that is. Get love right') to her arrest at a peace march in Washington, where she and her 'sisters' protested the Iraq war in the George W. Bush years. Kingston embraces Thoreau's notion of a 'broad margin,' hoping to expand her vista: 'I'm standing on top of a hill; / I can see everywhichway / the long way that I came, and the few / places I have yet to go. Treat / my whole life as if it were a day.'

"On her journeys as writer, peace activist, teacher, and mother, Kingston revisits her most beloved characters: she learns the final fate of her Woman Warrior, and she takes her Tripmaster Monkey, a hip Chinese American, on a journey through China, where he has never been, a trip that becomes a beautiful meditation on the country then and now, on a culture where rice farmers still work in the age-old way, even as a new era is dawning. 'All over China,' she writes, 'and places where Chinese are, populations / are on the move, going home. That home / where Mother and Father are buried. Doors / between heaven and earth open wide.' Such is the spirit of this wonderful book; a sense of doors opening wide onto an American life of great purpose and joy, and the tonic wisdom of a writer we have come to cherish."

Reserve this title