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Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Sep 8 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (Sept. 8 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307267148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307267146
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.2 x 24.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 717 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Opens our eyes to an enormous humanitarian issue.”
            -Washington Post 10 Best Books of the Year
“Vitally important . . . Heartbreaking, galvanizing, and unforgettable.”
            -Publishers Weekly Top 100 Books of 2009
“This book isn't a sermon . . . These stories are electrifying and have the effect of breaking down this enormous problem into segments the reader can focus on. Suddenly, these horrendous problems begin to seem solvable . . . Again, this book is not a sermon about victims. Its range is wide, and sometimes it's even funny . . . Half the Sky is a call to arms, a call for help, a call for contributions, but also a call for volunteers. It asks us to open our eyes to this enormous humanitarian issue. It does so with exquisitely crafted prose and sensationally interesting material . . . I really do think this is one of the most important books I have ever reviewed.”
            -Carolyn See, The Washington Post
“Passionate yet practical . . . [Half the Sky] is both stirring and sensible . . . This wonderful book combines a denunciation of horrible abuses with clear-eyed hope and some compelling practical strategies.  The courageous women described here, and millions more like them, deserve nothing less.”
            -Martha Nussbaum, The New York Times
Half the Sky is a story of empowerment . . . This book takes a sad song and makes it better, so to speak.”
            -Yoko Ono, O: Oprah Magazine
“Women facing poverty, oppression, and violence are usually viewed as victims.  Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s Half the Sky shows that unimaginable challenges are often met with breathtaking bravery.  These stories show us the power and resilience of women who would have every reason to give up but never do.  They will be an inspiration for anyone who reads this book, and a model for those fighting for justice around the world.  You will not want to put this book down.”
            -Angelina Jolie
“I read Half the Sky in one sitting, staying up until 3 a.m. to do so.  It is brilliant and inspirational, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops and mountains.  It vividly illustrates how women have turned despair into prosperity and bravely nurtured hope to cultivate a bright future.  The book ends with an especially compelling ‘What you can do’ to exhort us all to action.”
            -Greg Mortenson, author, Three Cups of Tea
“If you have always wondered whether you can change the world, read this book.  Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have written a brilliant call to arms that describes one of the transcendent injustices in the world today—the brutal treatment of women.  They take you to many countries, introduce you to extraordinary women, and tell you their moving tales.  Throughout, the tone is practical not preachy and the book’s suggestions as to how you can make a difference are simple, sensible, and yet powerful.  The authors vividly describe a terrible reality about the world we live in but they also provide light and hope that we can, in fact, change it.”
            -Fareed Zakaria, author, The Post-American World
“I think it’s impossible to stand by and do nothing after reading Half the Sky.  It does what we need most, it bears witness to the sheer cruelty that mankind can do to mankind.”
            -George Clooney
“It’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of this book about one of the most serious problems of our time: the worldwide abuse and exploitation of women.  In addition to describing the injustices, Kristof and WuDunn show how concerned individuals everywhere are working effectively to empower women and help them overcome adversity.  Wonderfully written and vividly descriptive, Half the Sky can and should galvanize support for reform on all levels.  Inspiring as it is shocking, this book demands to be read.”  
           -Anne Rice
Half the Sky is a passionate and persuasive plea to all of us to rise up and say ‘No more!’ to the 17th-century abuses to girls and women in the 21st-century world.  This is a book that will pierce your heart and arouse your conscience.  It is a powerful piece of journalism by two masters of the craft who are tireless in their pursuit of one of the most shameful conditions of our time.”
            -Tom Brokaw
“The stories that Kristof and WuDunn share are as powerful as they are heartbreaking.  Their insight into gender issues and the role of women in development inspires hope, optimism, and most importantly, the will to change.  Both a brutal awakening and an unmistakable call to action, this book should be read by all.”
            -Melinda Gates
“An unblinking look at one of the seminal moral challenges of our time.  This stirring book is at once a savage indictment of gender inequality in the developing world and an inspiring testament to these women’s courage, resilience, and their struggle for hope and recovery.  An unexpectedly uplifting read.”
            -Khaled Hosseini, author, The Kite Runner
“While we rightly roared at racial apartheid, we act as though gender apartheid is a natural, immutable fact.  With absolutely the right Molotov cocktail of on-the-ground reporting and hard social science, Kristof and WuDunn blow up this taboo . . . A thrilling manifesto for advancing freedom for hundreds of millions of human beings.”
            -Johann Hari,
“The most important book of the year . . . Half the Sky is the kind of book that could change the course of history.”
            -William Petrocelli, The Huffington Post
“How many books make a significant difference in matters that concern everyone who lives on earth?  Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have certainly written such a book.  Half the Sky is the most important book that I have read since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published in 1962 . . . Half the Sky is a groundbreaking, eye-opening book, stunning in every sense.”
            -Charles R. Larson, CounterPunch
“Urgent . . . Passionate . . . Compelling . . . Half the Sky is a grab-the-reader-by-the-lapels wake-up call.”
            -Bill Williams, The Boston Globe
“Superb . . . As Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring once catalyzed us to save our birds and better steward our earth, Half the Sky stands to become a classic, spurring us to spare impoverished women these terrors, and elevate them to turn around the future of their nations.”
            -Susan Ager, Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Stunning . . . [Half the Sky] belongs on the ‘must-read’ list because it offers perspective, insight, and clear-eyed optimism for why and how each of us can and should meet one of the great moral and humanitarian challenges of our times.”
            -Bill Gates, Sr., The Huffington Post

About the Author

Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn are the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism; they won for their coverage of China as New York Times correspondents. Mr. Kristof won a second Pulitzer for his op-ed columns in the Times. He has also served as bureau chief in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo, and as associate managing editor. At the Times, Ms. WuDunn worked as a business editor and as a foreign correspondent in Tokyo and Beijing. They live near New York City.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Lyons on Nov. 3 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is perhaps one of the most important pieces of work of our time. It is heart breaking,uplifting and inspirational. This book should become mandatory reading for all North American high schools. It certainly brings home the point - that from the time we take our first breath in the western hemisphere,we have just won the lottary.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jacqueline Vrolyk on April 21 2010
Format: Hardcover
After reading what these amazing women can do under such impossible conditions, one feels they can do anything! As I cringed from the horrible events portrayed, I was still inspired by the courage and strength of these incredible women. Awareness of what is going on worldwide is the first step to change. I hope I will have the opportunity during my life to help in some way.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Pohl on Nov. 2 2010
Format: Paperback
i cut my finger quite badley...i relized i would need stitches. there is always such a wait at the emergancy room so i grabed my closest book, HALF THE SKY. as i sat in the waiting room at the hospital i began to read the story of Diana, she lives in a world where rape is a weapon of war, and that weapon was used against this seventeen year old girl. there was no justice for diana as the police were knowen rapist as well, and there was no local medical assistance for her even though she desperatly needed it.
i had to close the book at this point and let the tears flow. i looked around the room , doctors and nurses working to help those of us in need. i looked at my was so small compared to the horrors that diana went through...i closed my eyes and felt an overwhelming sence of gratitude to be living in such an woonderfull contry.
there are many more first hand accounts of oppression of women the world over that need to be heard. the authors have repeated throughout the book the key to end this cycle is education...not just for the women, but for their opressors, their political leaders, their fathers, mothers, and their comunity.
i believe this book should be manditory reading in all schools.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Sartor on March 12 2011
Format: Paperback
A shocking, moving, and challenging read. It will make you cry --and catapult you into action!Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Melina on Feb. 11 2011
Format: Paperback
It's a very hard book to read, but everyone should read it. It gives a hard look at the life of young girls in the poorest, roughest countries in the world. Really makes you glad that you live in a first world country, and think about how you can help those girls overcome oppression.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 3 2009
Format: Hardcover
"They uncovered her nakedness,
Took away her sons and daughters,
And slew her with the sword;
She became a byword among women,
For they had executed judgment on her."

-- Ezekiel 23:10

Don't miss this book!

In recent years, I've gained much important information from reading books about the common forms of oppression that poor women experience around the world. These books taught me about kidnapped and sold sex and household slaves, mutilation of female genitalia according to custom, lack of educational opportunities, spread of sexual diseases to wives by unchaste men, and uneducated women succeeding as entrepreneurs after receiving training and loans. When someone asked me what they should read, I would tick off a long list of books.

Now, instead, I can refer people who want to know how to help oppressed women and poor people in general by suggesting they read Half the Sky. Every book that I've read that's of value on this subject is generously referenced in Half the Sky.

Authors Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn do a superb job of raising the big issues and explaining why it's often not so easy to resolve those issues:

1. Female slavery
2. Forced female prostitution
3. Cultural docility of many females and genital mutilation
4. Rape and acid scarring as ways to control women and their families
5. Honor killings
6. Lack of maternal healthcare
7. Complications from difficult pregnancies
8. Effects of ignorance about family planning
9. Religious prescriptions about women's roles
10. Poor educations available to women
11. Financing and preparing women entrepreneurs
12. Shifting gender relations so that family resources are better applied
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Gordon on Sept. 26 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book had a great combination of personal (heartbreaking) stories of many women around the world and the realistic ways we can help to stop what happened to them from happening to future generations. BUT be warned it is very politically opinionated - which I found was quite a distraction from the stories and should have been left out of the book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am very happy I bought this book and I have recommended it to my colleagues: they've all bought copies for themselves! I work in a humanitarian setting where much of my work involves community engagement and empowering marginalized groups within communities, often girls and women. There are many powerful examples of both successes and failures provided in this text as well as wonderful ideas for implementing in the field. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about life and the continuing patriarchy in (the so-called) developing world, to humanitarian and community development workers, as well as anyone who appreciates lucid, engaging writing.
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