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Podcast Review: What’s Her Name?

What’s Her Name is a podcast about influential women in history that are not well know. The hosts are Katie Nelson and Olivia Meikle who are scholars that teach at universities. They often interview authors who wrote books about the women that are discussed in this podcast. The episodes that I listened to so far are about Catherine Leroy, Tituba, and Ching Shih.  The stories told about each of these women are amazing!  After listening to the episodes about them, you may be wondering why you did not hear more about these women before.     

The first episode that I listened to is called “The Photojournalist: Catherine Leroy.”  Leroy was a famous war photographer of the Vietnam War. Before entering the arena, she had no experience as a photographer or even heard a gun being fired. Initially without press credentials, she was able to work independently and travel to parts of the country that were restricted by the U.S. military. Though there were attempts made by military officials to prevent her from going into combat, she refused to back down and found ways to bend the rules. What made her work unique was her focus on the eyes of those she was photographing. Her work became internationally recognized and she was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Metal Award. The price she paid for taking her amazing photographs was PTSD that severely impacted her mental health. You will be fascinated by hearing about Leroy’s life in this podcast.

The second episode I listened to was “The First Accused: Tituba.” I recognized the name from learning about the Salem Witch Trials in elementary school and I was interested in learning more about her. I remember learning that Tituba taught young Salem girls about witchcraft and corrupted them. Nelson and Meikle paint a far different picture of her. They talk about when young girls in Salem were questioned about their strange behavior, they blurted out “Tituba.”  The girls did not say more than just her name but the Puritans took their outburst to mean that Tituba had bewitched them. Leaders in the town had Tituba beaten until she confessed to being a witch. After confessing, she told ridiculous stories about witchcraft so the Puritans would keep her alive to learn more about witchcraft. Despite being the first accused witch, Tituba survived the trials. From this episode, I learned that Tituba was cunning and purposefully mislead her accusers to stay alive. This episode will change your perception about the Salem Witch Trials. 

The final episode of this podcast that I listened to is called “The Pirate: Ching Shih.” Ching Shih was a Chinese pirate who, at her peak, commanded a fleet of 1,800 ships and 70,000 pirates. She originally worked as a prostitute but eventually married a pirate by the name of Zheng Yi, who shared command of his fleet with her. When he passed away, she took full command. Through a strict code of laws, her reign went unchallenged for ten years. The Chinese navy tried to ensnare her forces in a bay, but her forces evaded them through brilliant maneuvering and inflicted heavy causalities on their sailors. Eventually, the Chinese navy outnumbered Shih’s confederation of pirates by such a large amount that she was forced to surrender. Even then, she was respected so much that she was no punished for being a pirate. The tale of Ching Shih will amaze you and make you wonder why she is not more famous.

What’s Her Name is filled with interesting stories about powerful women. Their intelligence and shrewdness will impress you even if they were not the most ethical people, such as Ching Shih. The hosts and authors interviewed in the podcast do an excellent job of providing a concise history of the women they are discussing. While providing a timeline of the women, they tell numerous amazing stories about them that they uncovered in their research. This is the perfect podcast to listen to during Women’s History Month.