Cantinière Book

Intrepid Women: Cantinières and Vivandières of the French Army is the first book-length scholarly study of the French army's uniformed female auxiliaries. It is published by Indiana University Press and available directly from the press or through most major book retailers. The book is based on extensive archival research of previously unpublished (and mostly unstudied) primary documents as well as a very large number of published primary and secondary sources.

The book is not a novel, nor is it a work of popular non-fiction. It is a serious, academic study that breaks new ground in the historical understanding of women's military participation. I tried to make it readable and to avoid the use of jargon or highly specialized terms, but the book remains a specialist work. There are a number of black and white illustrations (most of them never before published) as well as an extensive index that goes beyond the usual places of battles and names of soldiers and covers a variety of concrete and abstract ideas, movements, and associations. This should aid researchers looking for connections between my topic and their own areas of interest, creating a larger web of knowledge about 18th and 19th century history.

The chapters themselves present a chronological history of vivandières and cantinières from about 1700 up to Word War One, with some discussion of events before and after. There are many interesting anecdotes about day to day life, marriage, combat, and retirement, as well as broader material on trends and statistics. As much as possible, I tried to include the actual voices of real women, to give an idea of how they spoke, wrote, and thought.

The intended audience includes professional historians, students, and all people interested in serious history. Though I am sure to be biased, I think there is a lot to learn and to ponder here for anyone with an interest in history, whether that is professional or for leisure.

If you want to buy the book, I would prefer that you find a locally owned, independent bookstore and order it there. The money you spend locally will help you and everyone else in your town, and help keep a small business alive. If you have to have it right away, or you just prefer to shop online, you can help support this website by ordering through the links below. The sellers send a small portion of your sale back to the site to help pay for hosting and other costs. (This doesn't cost you anything extra—you pay the same price regardless.)

Amazon's listing has varied wildly from day to day, but has finally settled into an "in stock, discount price" mode. As of this writing (December 4, 2011), you will pay $30.04 with free shipping at Amazon. Numerous Amazon Marketplace sellers have the book for arounf $22-$85, plus shipping, and you can use the link above to acess those as well.

Barnes and Noble has the book in stock for $33.55, and will ship free within a few days. You will most likely pay about $2 sales tax since B & N has stores in almost every state. I placed a test order with B & N, and it arrrived in about four days (much faster than Amazon).

Of course, Indiana University Press also has the book in stock ready for immediate shipment, and supporting the publisher rather than Amazon is a good way to ensure that more books like this get published in the future. If you want the best price, use this link to Amazon, then click on "used and new" on the right hand side of the page.

Indiana University Press has just announced free shipping on all orders from December 9 through December 11: use the code FRSHIP at checkout. What could make a better Christmas gift than an academic book on an obscure social history topic? The press runs frequent free specials, so signing up for their e-mail list might be a good idea.

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