Tough Mothers: Amazing Stories of History’s Mightiest Matriarchs

Written by Jason Porath
Review by G. J. Berger

This handsome book presents fifty vignettes (two to five pages each) about courageous mothers. Some are recent and well known—Sojourner Truth, Bella Abzug. Others lived in darker ages—Olympias of Macedon (and mother of Alexander the Great), Tamar of Georgia. Each story contains a full-color illustration by the self-taught but talented author.

The stories are arranged based on reader sensibilities, beginning with the tamest (level one) to the most “mature” (level five). Regardless of the brutality or hard circumstances described, many of the vignettes will make readers stand and cheer, or tear up. The prose is conversational and not bogged down in dates, names, or other historical fine points. For anyone who wants to know more about one or the other Tough Mother, each story has its own bibliography. The volume is indexed in useful, sometimes humorous, categories (as in, “quotes that would be great on T-shirts”).

Recommended for anyone interested in learning a bit about women who stood up to power, defied poverty, or climbed over other barriers to achieve great things.