Book Review: Women of the world- The Rise of the Female Diplomat by Helen McCarthy


ISIN: 978-1-4088- 3780-1
Genre: Non-fiction / Politics/ Women
Publishers: Bloomsbury
Price: Rs. 399/- (I received the book for review from the publisher)

Women of the World tells this story of personal and professional struggle against the dramatic backdrop of war, super-power rivalry and global transformation over the last century and a half. From London to Washington, Geneva to Tehran and in the deserts of Arabia, the souks of Damascus and the hospitals of Sarajevo, resolute women undaunted by intransigent officials and hostile foreign governments proved their worth.

A lustrous book which traces the often agonizing rise of women in the Foreign Office and mercilessly dissects the resistance they encountered Peter Hennessy A path-breaking account, from one of our leading and most original historians of modern Britain, of how the male-dominated world of British diplomacy gradually - and grudgingly - let professional women in. It should be read by everyone who works in the Foreign Office, or in British embassies overseas, and by anyone, anywhere, who is concerned about the part that women have played, do play and should play, in the making of foreign policy and the conduct of international relations David Cannadine McCarthy has produced a sometimes humorous but often dispiriting picture of what women who had set their sights on foreign posting continued to experience, long after they had won a toehold in other fields Literary Review Helen McCarthy has conducted a lot of valuable interviews for her book and researched assiduously Evening Standard A fascinating account of the maneuvers of the leaders of the Foreign Office to prevent the admission of women to its diplomatic and consular services Spectator The women are striking, the trajectories of their often brief careers compelling Observer This pioneering study gives a penetrating, readable and most welcome introduction to a neglected set of issues, and will be gratefully received by a wide readership Times Higher Education Supplement Riveting 

The World Today As McCarthy eloquently argues in this important book full brilliant vignettes, fighting to the top is usually harder for a woman Independent An account less about the rise of female diplomats than the often jaw-dropping machinations of the British establishment and the Foreign Office to keep women out of the ultimate boy's club The Times Carefully researched, stylishly written and highly entertaining ... The story is rich with female pioneers ... McCarthy's "women of the world" stand as a reminder that, for many women, ours is a world which has not yet been won Sunday Telegraph Vivid and engaging ... Complexities come out beautifully in the lives recovered in this book Guardian Well researched, illuminating and unexpectedly entertaining Times Literary Supplement Excellent history of British women in the rarefied world of high diplomacy...a deceptively quiet battle-cry of a history, thoughtfully and deeply researched. -- Lesley McDowell Independent on Sunday

Behind The book

Source: Bloomsbury

About the author

Helen McCarthy is Senior Lecturer in History at Queen Mary, University of London. She studied as an undergraduate at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, and as a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard University. She worked briefly for the think-tank Demos before embarking on doctoral studies at the University of London. Her first book, The British People and the League of Nations (Manchester University Press, 2011), explores the vibrant popular cultures of internationalism in inter-war Britain. Before taking up her post at Queen Mary, Helen was a Research Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge. She lives in London with her husband and two daughters.

Me thinks

Before I read this book I had a preconceived notion about how women in developed countries had lives much better than ours which is still a developing nation adding to it our rich cultural heritage makes matters  more difficult and complicated for us. I always felt things for them were much easier when it came to anything ranging from education to job, politics and ofcourse minor choices of day to day existence like dressing etc.

But this book changed my perspective drastically. I witnessed closely how tough it has been for women across the globe in trying to stand up for their own selves ranging from what they wore to what they said and thought it has been a perennial battle for existence to be heard and understood. The author has backed this book with impeccable research and pictures which speak through the pages make you stand up, take notice of the facts and then wonder as to what would have happened had these women chosen to not voice out their opinions and break the prejudices.

This book also speaks about the age old beliefs which gave way to the new systems over a long period during which the battles were constant. Somewhere hidden in these pages I saw hope for India as a country also to reach this stature someday as I can see some of the struggles they faced being faced here now. Maybe it is a sign, just when I was losing hope on my country this book came my way to give me some hope, ask me to be patient and witness the huge change my country is going to undergo soon.

Recommended for people who enjoy reading politics, global issues and ofcourse women! Strongly recommended read for women across the world for this is awe-inspiring without fail!

Foodie Verdict

This book is like blueberry bread - crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and delicious in every bite!



  1. However smart the women are,the men find ways to suppress them.Nice review,Namrata.


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