In ‘Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists,’ a vivid vision of women’s history

David Wilson For The Boston Globe

“I used to think I hated history,” said Mikki Kendall. “I hated it because I thought history was boring.” She learned the subject the way a lot of us have, she added: a laundry list of facts and dates and names. It didn’t connect until she took a good class, with a good teacher, and all of a sudden the subject was “fascinating; it’s like reading the world’s best novel.”

In “Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights,” Kendall writes about women’s history from ancient Sumer and Assyria to today. Illustrated by A. Damico, the book joins other graphic histories that have made news this year, including George Takei’s book about Japanese-American internment, “They Called Us Enemy.”


Researching the book was an education in itself. “I hadn’t really grasped how much I was going to find. However much you think you know of history, you’re always wrong. You don’t know half — until you start really digging in.”

The book draws connections between women’s rights and the rights of people of color, workers, the disabled, and other people who have been marginalized. “I tried to make it so that whatever your historical bent, there’s something there for you,” she said. “And I also wanted to make sure we push away the idea that history only happened for white people.”

Although it’s accessible for young readers, Kendall added that it’s for anyone. “I hope that it makes people want to learn history, feel like history is interesting — and that it belongs to them, that it’s not just something for other people to know. I wanted to write a book that would have made me like history when I was a teenager.”

Kendall will read on Thursday at 7 p.m at Brookline Booksmith.

Kate Tuttle, a freelance writer and critic, can be reached at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.