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Review: A Woman Among Warlords by Malalai Joya

Title: A Woman Among Warlords: the extraordinary story of an Afghan who dared to raise her voice
Author: Malalai Joya with Derrick O'Keefe
Year Published: 2009

Genre: Adult non-fiction
Pages: 238
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2016 Google Reading map): Afghanistan (and Pakistan and Iran a little bit)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Malalai Joya was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2010. An extraordinary young woman raised in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan, Joya became a teacher in secret girls' schools, hiding her books under her burqa so the Taliban couldn't find them; she helped establish a free medical clinic and orphanage in her impoverished home province in Farah; and at a constitutional assembly in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2003, she stood up and denounced her country's powerful NATO-backed warlords. She was twenty-five years old. Two years later, she became the youngest person elected to Afghanistan's new Parliament. In 2007, she was suspended from Parliament for her persistent criticism of the warlords and drug barons and their cronies. She has survived four assassination attempts to date, is accompanied at all times by armed guards, and sleeps only in safe houses.

Joya takes us inside this massively important and insufficiently understood country, shows us the desperate day-to-day situations its remarkable people face at every turn, and recounts some of the many acts of rebellion that are helping to change it. A controversial political figure in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Malalai Joya is a hero for our times.

Review: This is another book that my daughter's Gender Studies class is reading and, again, it sounded so good I went and got myself a copy. It is definitely some dense reading with lots of history and details of dates and people. But, the story is an important one and here are some of my thoughts:
  • I had some idea, just not quite how much, we have interfered in Afghanistan over the years. I hadn't realized quite the level of involvement of the US government in training the Taliban and putting the post Soviet government in place. 
  • I didn't know that the US-backed government (called the Warlords by the author) was the first to make all the rules about woman completely covering, not laughing, etc.
  • Obama is seen as just as bad as Bush in Afghanistan and they want us out!
  • I already knew the extent of the crimes against women, but that doesn't make it any easier to read about.
  • The author is strong. I love that she speaks out and says whatever she feels is the truth no matter who is listening or the danger it may bring to her. 
If you are at all interested in Afghanistan, the war there, the Taliban, or women's rights, this book is a good one.

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