Red Valkyries
Feminist Lessons From Five Revolutionary Women
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224 pages / July 12, 2022 / 9781839766602

Available for pre-order. This item will be available on July 12, 2022.

July 12, 2022 / 9781839766633


Why the most radical feminists were also communists

Red Valkyries explores the history of socialist feminism in Eastern Europe. By examining the revolutionary careers of five prominent socialist women active in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—the aristocratic Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai; the radical pedagogue Nadezhda Krupskaya; the polyamorous firebrand Inessa Armand; the deadly sniper Lyudmila Pavlichenko; and the partisan turned scientist turned global women’s activist Elena Lagadinova—Kristen Ghodsee tells the story of the personal challenges faced by earlier generations of socialist and communist women.

None of these women was a ‘perfect’ leftist. Their lives were filled with inner conflicts, contradictions, and sometimes outrageous privilege, but they still managed to move forward their own political projects through perseverance and dedication to their cause. Always walking a fine line between the need for class solidarity and the desire to force their sometimes callous male colleagues to take women’s issues seriously, these five women pursued novel solutions with lessons for the today’s activists.


“We’ve needed this book longer than we know: celebrating and learning from revolutionary socialist women, Red Valkyries gifts us with models essential to today’s struggles. Kristen Ghodsee breaks down the wall liberal feminism built in women’s history, bringing to life a vision of emancipation that continues to be worth fighting for.”

“Written with clarity and zest, Red Valkyries is an illuminating introduction to the extraordinary lives of prominent socialist women in the Soviet Union and Bulgaria.”

“In our historical moment, quotas of women in power positions and correct manners or expressions are obfuscating the long historical link between feminism and radical politics. Ghodsee's Red Valkyries is exactly the book needed to correct this misperception and help feminism to rejoin its radical past. The five figures analyzed were fighters who pursued the feminist cause through their full engagement in revolutionary political struggle. Can we still imagine this, in our era obsessed with victimization?”

Red Valkyries is a fascinating alternative history of the feminist movement, told from the perspective of the east rather than the west. The women Ghodsee profiles are committed socialists who realise that women's liberation is incompatible with capitalism, and who also frequently struggle against the centralisation of power within their own countries. Required reading for anyone seeking out an alternative to #girlboss feminism.”

“A beautiful book about the intimate lives and bold ideas of a range of Communist women, people who built their revolutionary dreams into reality. Ghodsee lifts up the immense contradiction between the future-oriented social hopes of these revolutionaries, these exiles from the future, and the grip of the social conventions of the present.”

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