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Book Review: ‘Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World’ by Pénélope Bagieu

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Book Review: Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World
Photo: The News Wheel

I am always drawn to and inspired by books that celebrate the amazing accomplishments of women, especially those I never learned about in school. The graphic novel Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu celebrates a long list of inspiring women through captivating images and concise, thought-provoking storytelling.

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Bagieu’s chapters focus on 29 women who defied the odds, excelled in their careers, and broke barriers, ultimately helping to clear the path for future generations of women. In her beautifully drawn stories, she includes artists such as singer-songwriter Betty Davis, journalist Nellie Bly, astronaut Mae Jemison, volcanologist Katia Krafft, and explorer Delia Akeley.

Actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr also earns a section in Bagieu’s book. Lamarr is of particular interest to me as an automotive writer. One of the inventions she co-created with composer George Antheil was designed to end World War II, but it also provided the groundwork for tech we use every day — such as GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Every time you sync your smartphone, stream audio, or protect your cell phone data in your car, you’re continuing Lamarr’s brilliant legacy. Bagieu covers a lot about Lamarr in eight artfully drawn pages, and there’s no doubt Lamarr was a force to be reckoned with and should not be underestimated.

Bagieu dedicates her book to her amazing daughters, and offers her reasons for this work at the back of the book:

“The lives of the women in Brazen moved me, gripped me, and fascinated me. This book is by no means a thorough scholarly work; rather it’s one woman’s tribute — my homage to the full, daring lives they lead, often against great odds. I hope these broad-stroke portraits will inspire you to further explore and research these remarkable human lives for yourself.”

Once you absorb the incredible lives of the women Bagieu depicts in her book, there are plenty more women to learn from. At the end of the book, Bagieu lists 30 more “Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World.”

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If you’re in need of inspiration, guidance, or just fascinating information about women who helped shape the world, page through Bagieu’s graphic novel and then pass it along to a friend.