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Who Cooked the Last Supper? [Paperback]

Rosalind Miles
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 2001
Men dominate history because men write history. There have been many heroes, but no heroines. This is the book that overturns that "phallusy of history," giving voice to the true history of the world — which, always and forever, must include the contributions of millions of unsung women. Here is the history you never learned — but should have!

Without politics or polemics, this brilliant and witty book overturns centuries of preconceptions to restore women to their rightful place at the center of culture, revolution, empire, war, and peace. Spiced with tales of individual women who have shaped civilization, celebrating the work and lives of women around the world, distinguished by a wealth of research, Who Cooked the Last Supper? redefines our concept of historical reality.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Us Imports; 1 edition (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609806955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609806951
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 349,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rosalind Miles

Rosalind is a writer who sidesteps time. Both story-teller and scholar, she has led different lives since her childhood in England. As a girl she endured a voyage through a landscape of life and death when she survived polio at the age of four years after spending several months in an iron lung. Her earliest memories are from this underworld of medical instruments and mechanical isolation, seeing her mother's face remotely through the glass.

After her emergence from the realm of medical support systems, she attained robust health and was permitted to roam freely in a large woodland near her home in Shakespeare's Warwickshire. This woodland was once a medieval hunting park, maintained then as now by the Crown. The wood was an Arcadian paradise for a child, who wandered the park's seven lakes and varied forests from dawn to dusk. This park provided the security and a freedom rare at the time, and now generally denied children, to nurture the interior world of the self far from adult supervision. The fall of night, generally but not always, ended these ramblings and imaginings.

A late child, last in a line of sisters, Rosalind was born into a family where stories were treasured and books were portals to other places and times. The youngest of three, she shared a room with a sister, and had the habit of telling her a bedtime story every night. This variant on the Arabian Nights lasted 1000 evenings before the girls were separated into rooms of their own. Whatever lay at the source of this need to tell endless variations on stories of adventure and triumph, typically of a female heroine, Rosalind was developing a sense of the uses of narrative fiction at an early age, in a compelling and determined sort of way.

At the age of ten Rosalind began recording these stories and other thoughts in writing, a habit that never lapsed since. This was also the year in which she was removed from her village life, as a consequence of broader recognition of her academic precocity, and received state sponsorship to a junior women's college.

There, as an adolescent, she acquired a working knowledge of Latin and Greek, and a life-long love of Shakespeare. At seventeen Rosalind was promoted to St Hilda's College, Oxford University, where she studied English literature, Anglo-Saxon, Middle English, Latin and French. This led to five degrees in all, culminating in a Ph.D. from the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham.

Rosalind's Ph.D. thesis and early works in Shakespeare scholarship and literary theory were considered radical at the time yet have since become mainstream.
Examples of these books have been preserved and may often be found through an internet book search or in libraries. Works from this period include a biography and also a theoretical work on Ben Jonson. Both were the products of a literary press, Routledge & Co., and were received as definitive works.

Other works of literary criticism include "The Female Form", a discussion of the origins of the Victorian novel. Interest in these critical studies persists, and re-publication via specialist press or on the internet is in review.

In her twenties Rosalind rediscovered the world beyond academic scholarship, and developed in some very different directions. A range of activities that was once narrow became characterized by diversity. This coincided with marriage to a fellow-student from Oxford and the mothering of two children of her own, a girl and a boy. During this time Rosalind never stopped writing. She became a lecturer in women's studies, and wrote a number of works in this field, at least one of which transcends its time. Her "Women's History of the World" has become part of the feminist canon, even in Chinese.

A decade later, Rosalind became interested in jurisprudence, soon sitting as a lay magistrate in the English criminal and family courts, and eventually on the bench in a superior court in Coventry, a Crown Court.

Rosalind's work at the time turned to social commentary. "The Children We Deserve" and "The Rites of Man" are examples of this. These efforts in social theory received acceptance among some senior figures in government and media. England's Lord Chancellor placed Rosalind on his advisory committee on the changing legislation around women, the work place and child rearing. She also became a frequent commentator on the BBC, on Canadian Radio and in the London Times and Telegraph.

For her friends and admirers, one of the more interesting aspects of Rosalind's character is that long hours of work have never seemed to dull a sense of whimsy, fun, or the adventure of life: on the contrary, they seem to whet it.

Other interests of this phase of Rosalind Miles's life were horseback riding with her children and others, and recreational travel in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and the Arab world. Rosalind's travels in the Middle East led to a special relationship with the Sultanate of Oman, an Arab state unusual for its education and promotion of women. There she has been honoured through acquaintance with one of the world's remaining absolute monarchs, the Sultan of Oman. Rosalind has since often visited this kingdom where the modern world co-exists with a past in which ancient and aural literatures still resonate vibrantly for many, and the borders between legend and history are less distinct. These twin themes of the ancient and the modern, the primordial in each of us and our adaptation to the modern world, are familiar paths for Rosalind Miles, and this may have opened doors in Oman.

The writing of novels has been a labor of increasing fascination for Rosalind in recent years. These novels have taken the form of contemporary narratives, like "Return to Eden", or stories built around historical people and events. As the range of her life and work increased, integrating this wide range of experience may simply have required the broader pallet provided by fictional or semi fictional work. Or perhaps, having immersed herself in the grim topics of social justice, crime and punishment, Rosalind has simply found writing fiction to be more fun.

Whatever her motivation, Rosalind's narrative works appeal to a broad spectrum of people with quite diverse cultural backgrounds and tastes. "Return to Eden" for instance was for a while the best selling fictional work in Russian. "I, Elizabeth" was a popular work in Portuguese. Her present effort is a set of nine novels interpreting the Arthurian legends with emphasis on the Queens, and their primacy to the Celts. That many Celtic tribes were matrilineal is documented in Roman sources, among others, and is not seriously disputed. Yet the interpretation of this legacy, as handed down, leaves something to be desired. A rapist and murderer, Malory wrote his Morte d'Arthur from his prison cell. Certainly Malory cannot be relied upon regarding his reading of the Queens. There are other treatments, but the question of who these women were, and the challenges of their lives, remains an inviting one.

Of these Arthurian works, the first trilogy is now finished. The work was conceived as a trilogy of separate trilogies and the second set of three, based on the Irish stories of Isolde and Tristan, is well in hand, with the first novel finished and the second due for publication shortly. The concluding three exist presently only in outline. Sketches, and notes for other, future projects crowd her study.

So the little girl who wanted to live in the woods is now an accomplished author, with an eclectic group of achievements behind her. Rosalind put pen to paper with conviction at the age of ten, and never stopped. Rather than a process of recording, writing seems to comprise for her a process of uncovering the projections of the ancient in the modern, of the possibilities of language, and the overlooked in our history and future lives. Twenty books down this path, the way ahead looks as rich as the work already done.

Rosalind in brief:

- Guenevere is the first of a trilogy of Arthurian novels, which is itself the first of a trilogy of trilogies.

- Award-winning author of 20 books of fiction and non-fiction.

- Published in 18 languages, including Chinese.

- Biggest-selling contemporary British author in Russia after publication of the modern novel Return to Eden.

- Acclaimed for her Guenevere trilogy and short-listed for a number of literary prizes.

- Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

- Designated by the US State Department as an Alien of Extraordinary Ability.

- Resident of Los Angeles and Kent, England.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What they don't teach us in school... 15 July 2008
...or at least they didn't teach me this when I was at school way back. I suspect that they still don't. A fascinating account of how women were written out of history, politics, religion - just about everything... Funny, too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read in a long time! 31 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is so incredible. I'm a young ambitious woman, and this is so empowering. It's well written, fascinating, and informative. Each chapter covers a different time period, starting with humankind's evolutionary period (and the crucial role of the female!), and moving throughout history looking at the role of women, and why they've been pushed to the side.
Miles is reasonable, rational, and at no point did I feel she was over-reaching with the information to make her point, she is always on point and accurate.
I have recommended this to ALL my female (and many male!) friends, because it is such a wonderful read, and it beautifully challenges the ongoing patriarchy, and reminds people (particularly women) that 'the female' has so much more to her than society and history gives her credit for, and we should celebrate and embrace that.

I recommend this book to ANYONE, it is wonderful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsary reading... 15 Dec 2011
By K. Galbraith VINE VOICE
On finishing this book, I felt quite strongly that this book should be given to all girls at some point in their early teens as compulsary reading material. In retrospect, I would amend that to say that it should be given to ALL teenagers, boys too! I know I wished I'd read it much sooner. That's not to say it was awash with information that was new to me as a woman in my late 30's...it wasn't! However what the author *has* done, is weave that information into a fascinating and riviting narrative that is eye opening, sad, funny, harrowing, uplifting and whole range of emotions besides. I deeply recommend it.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as expected 31 Jan 2012
By jennyb
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had read a review of this book by, I think, Sandi Toksvig, who described it as amusing and humorous. I have an interest in female history liked the title, found the book, and sent for it. I have only ever dipped into this book, about half a dozen times, and each page I have read describes some horrible female situation without any way of squeezing humour into it. I lent the book to my sister who commented on the contents but when asked it she found it humorous, looked at me in a way to say 'are you joking'. So read the book it is certainly full of inequality and stories/evidence to demonstrate this, but don't expect to have a girly chuckle or feel anyway lifted by its contents. In my opinion of course.
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1 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stolen library book ! 3 April 2010
By areader
Excellent, excellent book - fascinating! everybody should read it once, challenges all our lazy male/female historical brain washing ie: cave man being bread winner hunting for kill etc...
i bought this as a second hand book though & it seems to be a stolen library book .This has happened tp me a few times on Amazon & I hate to buy stolen library books. Libraries are having it hard enough !
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