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Home » Culture and Criticism

The Most Evil Women in History

Submitted by on August 3, 2009 – 4:27 PM9 Comments

marie-hilley-0The hilarious cover art and dryly blunt title got my hopes up — in vain, alas.   The writing is not awful, but Shelley Klein can’t decide if she’s going to report these cases straight, offer wisecracks, or make commentary, and the result is a dullish goulash of all three.

If I’d skipped the prologue, I might have enjoyed the rest of the book more, but Klein’s introduction reads like a first-draft attempt at applying a women’s-studies overarching principle to the proceedings, and the way she’s chosen to group the various femonsters is not insightful enough to warrant a two-page explanation.

Various works cited have value, if readers want a less cursory and disorganized look at any of the evil women in question, but the book works best as a gag gift, left unopened.




  • Margaret in CO says:

    Here, hon:
    (crimelibrary dot com’s “Women who Kill” section.

  • Sandman says:

    I don’t know about Most Evil in History, but that hair looks fairly reprehensible.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Bembenek is in there? I thought it was understood that she hadn’t done it after all; she just pled it on time served so she could stop, you know, breaking out of prison to protest her innocence.

  • Margaret in CO says:

    I was surprised to see Bambi in there also – but I couldn’t get to her story, just went into a linkloop. They have yet to vacate her sentence, so I guess she still qualifies.

  • Jaybird says:

    Oh, dear. You know, maybe I’m naive, but if you’d already been in and out of prison more than a laundry truck, wouldn’t you at least TRY to steer clear of drugs and other legally-dodgy things? (Not debating the wisdom of drugs being illegal; I’m just saying, do you really want MORE trouble?)

    And…well, did anyone ever look into that whole Dr. Phil/false imprisonment issue? Because Bembenek seems to be at least half a bobble off plumb, but again, Dr. Phil.

  • Margaret in CO says:

    Yikes indeed! Damn.

  • RJ says:

    She leaves out the Countess of Bathory, but includes Catherine the Great (I read a fascinating bio of the Empress Catherine – it would seem she was very much wronged by historians!!)??

    Did this woman actually bother to do any research, or did she get everything from Wikipedia?

  • liz says:

    Ha! I actually bought this book on the discount-discount table a few months back – needless to say, I was…..underwhelmed. I actually thought perhaps the book was a bad translation from some other language, but didn’t care enough to look into it.

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