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Gertrude Bell
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I've always been inspired by a certain caliber of woman born in the late 1800's, who then went on to blaze a trail in the early decades of the 20th century, breaking ground for a later generation who claimed "women's liberation" as their mantra.

They were among the first generation of women in modern times to go to war during the years 1914-18, and were profoundly impacted by the losses of young men in that conflict. The 1921 census revealed that over two million women in Britain alone would never marry or have children, instead facing a life of spinsterhood alone. There were those who floundered, but many moved into public life and a "man's world" as never before. Gertrude Bell -- writer, explorer, cartographer, historian, politician, intelligence officer -- was one of the older members of that generation, and her life has fascinated me for years.

Find out why on The Huffington Post's books blog.

By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the AOL people, which is one of the great ways she's bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room's authors.

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Gertrude Bell

Exceptional woman. She was just a name to me, so thanks for the enlightenment.

I used to know a grammar school headmistress who lost her fiancee in WW1 and never married. Quite apart from the dearth of men back then, there was a belief/anthropological instinct that you were almost being unfaithful to the memory of the deceased. An engagement was a profoundly serious thing.

I've long believed that women were never so truly powerful as on the cusp of liberation. Our enfranchisement, though just and necessary, has nevertheless brought a host of new, and perhaps more subtle, problems in its wake.