March 30, 2018 • Cee • Reviews

Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee • February 27, 2018 • ABRAMS Image
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Based on Mackenzi Lee’s popular weekly Twitter series of the same name, Bygone Badass Broads features 52 remarkable and forgotten trailblazing women from all over the world.

With tales of heroism and cunning, in-depth bios and witty storytelling, Bygone Badass Broads gives new life to these historic female pioneers. Starting in the fifth century BC and continuing to the present, the book takes a closer look at bold and inspiring women who dared to step outside the traditional gender roles of their time. Coupled with riveting illustrations and Lee’s humorous and conversational storytelling style, this book is an outright celebration of the badass women who paved the way for the rest of us.


I received this book for free from ABRAMS for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “The story of Empress Xi Ling Shi is so wrapped up in legend it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s mythology. “

Attention, it’s the start of the history class you’ve always wanted: what women did throughout history that we should know about.

If you’ve seen Mackenzi Lee’s Twitter threads about different badass and diverse women in history, those threads have been expanded into this book, Bygone Badass Broads. This book introduces readers to 52 inspiring and innovative women who have been forgotten by history—familiar ones like Lorraine Hansberry and Noor Inayat Khan to not-known-ones like Friederike Mandelbaum and Kumander Liwaymay (and when I think about it, all the ladies Mackenzi picked to write about are very unknown to most of us). And let me say, Bygone Badass Broads should be a must-read for every human being and creature on this Earth (and maybe in outer space, who knows).


  • This is the history we want to learn in our schools! 

How disappointing and frustrating must our history courses be if we are not discussing the accomplishments that women had throughout history? Because c’mon, plenty women have accomplished things Genghis Khan and Leonardo da Vinci level, but we don’t even hear about them.

You won’t learn about these women from your classroom textbooks or your high school teachers. You’d be lucky if you happen across a history course in college/university that discusses one of these women but it’ll be a fleeting moment.

That’s why my little heart soaarrrrs when authors publishes these beautiful books about about amazing historical women. These women and their stories are what we should learn about! No more white men and their history only being told and exhausted; it’s time to learn about awe-inspiring women we should’ve learned about yeaaarrrrs ago.

  • You learn about badass forgotten ladies throughout history you’ve never heard of and their amazing contributions.

Meet women like:

  • Sayyida Al-Hurra: A Muslim pirate (and Queen later) who became one to avenge her family from the “Spanish pricks,” and ruled the western Mediterranean.
  • Friederike “Marm” Madelbaum: New York’s criminal overlord who had everybody in her pockets and got others trained to do her dirty work. She’s like the mother of thieves.
  • Mary Seacole: Jamaican Nurse who you could say “rivaled” Florence Nightingale (but we are not about pitting women against each other) in the Crimean War.
  • Clelia Duel Mosher: Mackenzi describes her beautifully, “sex-positive hulk-smasher of Victorian stereotypes about female fragility.”
  • Elvira de la Fuente Chaudoir: It’s ya girl, a bisexual Peruvian playgirl who became a spy and fooled the Nazis.

I dare you not to fall in love with them because I sure had a hard time!

You meet these larger-than-life women who fought wars and colonialism, were champions of women’s reproductive health, fired guns and wielded weapons, smashed the idea that women cannot accomplish anything of worth, and were worth twice as much as men for what they had to endure (like their accomplishments being credited to men and being forgotten in history).

Bygone Badass Broads does note solely focus on white-cis gender women; these women are from different races and cultures; many loved men, many loved women, and many loved both. They had their flaws, but they are the most inspiring women in the world.

  • It’s a personal take on history. 

Bygone Badass Broads is super casual—the type where the language is written like a short bedtime stories for your kids—humans, good doggos, uninterested cats, and so on. It’s very witty and entertaining; there are jokes and pop culture references (hello, Pawnee Goddesses, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Kanye’s “Imma Let You Finish”). I appreciate the personal take on history because it’s not like a history textbook that gives you straight (*giggles*) facts. Hopefully these entries entice readers to look into these different women outside of the book like they did me.

  • Petra Eriksson’s illustrations complements each history beautifully.

Petra’s illustrations are a standout. The color scheme—of pinks and purples—works so well; it’s gorgeous and bright. The art is minimalistic; these women don’t need that embellishments because their accomplishments speak for themselves.

  • It’s the type of book that takes more than one sitting to get through.

You should! Sure, you can read Bygone Badass Broads in one sitting. I wouldn’t suggest it because it can be daunting because you’re learning about a lot of awesome women. Each of them need your undivided attention. Take a break between them. Savorrrrrrrrrr them.

Should you read Bygone Badass Broads? A hundred bazillion YESSSSSSS!!!

Set it up on a coffee table. Carry it with you on the go. You’ll find yourself having to wait somewhere, and what better book to pick up than Bygone Badass Broads? You get to meet these badass and inspiring women who have conquered just as many things as men. Each entry is short, entertaining, and full of pop culture references, so you can read one or a couple in a few minutes and be on your way. You will exclaim, “Women are strong as hell.”


One Response to “REVIEW • Women Are Strong As Hell (Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee)”

  1. Tasya says:

    Ahh I’m so excited to read this! I recently read Princesses Behaving Badly- similar theme with this book, about women (royals) throughout the history that break the expectations and held out on their own in the midst of political court. I love reading more about women’s accomplishment and so glad with the influx of historical books like this! Amazing review Cee!

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