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A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice [Hardcover]

Malalai Joya , Derrick O'Keefe
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 20 2009
Malalai Joya has been called "the bravest woman in Afghanistan." At a constitutional assembly in Kabul 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.

Often compared to democratic leaders such as Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, this extraordinary young woman was raised in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan. Inspired in part by her father's activism, Malalai became a teacher in secret girls' schools, holding classes in a series of basements. She hid her books under her burqa so the Taliban couldn't find them. She also helped establish a free medical clinic and orphanage in her impoverished home province of Farah. The endless wars of Afghanistan have created a generation of children without parents. Like so many others who have lost people they care about, Malalai lost one of her orphans when the girl's family members sold her into marriage.

While many have talked about the serious plight of women in Afghanistan, Malalai Joya takes us inside the country and shows us the desperate dayto-day situations these remarkable people face at every turn. She recounts some of the many acts of rebellion that are helping to change the country -- the women who bravely take to the streets in peaceful protest against their oppression; the men who step forward and claim "I am her mahram," so the fundamentalists won't punish a woman for walking alone; and the families that give their basements as classrooms for female students.

A controversial political figure in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Malalai Joya is a hero for our times, a young woman who refused to be silent, a young woman committed to making a difference in the world, no matter the cost.


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"The bravest woman in Afghanistan." -- BBC News

About the Author

Malalai Joya, at only 30 years of age, has been called “the most famous woman in Afghanistan” and compared to democratic leaders such as Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi. Born in Afghanistan’s remote Farah Province, she grew up in refugee camps in Iran and Pakistan before returning to Afghanistan as a social activist and a teacher at underground girls’ schools during the Taliban’s reign. In 2003 she was elected to Afghanistan’s constitutional assembly and, two years later, was the youngest person elected to Afghanistan’s new Parliament, a post from which she was suspended in 2007 for her regular denunciation of the country’s warlords and their cronies in government.

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
We don't always get the truth unless we are able to visit a country or area. On a recent trip to the middle east, I found the people warm, friendly and respectful; they have their fundamentalist fanatics as do we, but they aren't a bunch of angry extremists we have come to invision from constant media bombardment.

As Afghanistan is not a recommended travel destination, Joya's book will take you there safely, but prepare to feel sorrow and horror for our fellow human beings and for the disinformation campaign about the real reasons for our armed occupation. There is no joy in wealth acquired with the lives of others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Accomplishment Dec 13 2013
Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase
Joya has summarized her life and presented it in a fashion which I found quite inspiring. This book is an explanation of courage manifest, something Joya has gained through an education and strong upbringing. I feel as if Joya is an archetype of those who have served to change the world, however limited in effect it may appear for now. I bought this book because I was reading Noam Chomsky's 'Hopes and Prospects'; in which he cites Joya a few times, and calls this book remarkable. I set out to buy 'A Woman Among Warlords', based entirely off Chomsky's glowing fondness of this woman and can now see justification for his conclusions.

So yes, this book is probably more than you'd expect at first glance. I cannot help but think that it describes a tragedy in regards to content. I stand in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan. I hope above all else that they may obtain amelioration, though it is unlikely, unless we insist on justice for all and seek to end xenophobia. Aside from the factual, contextual and practical modern relevance of these pages, I must note the quality in which this book is written, indeed quite high.

If you have come this far, I would advise you to obtain a copy for a read through.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The bare Afghan truth Nov. 3 2013
By Kari
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
This book is amazing. It is the story about ordinary Afghans' sorrowful lives told by an (used to be) ordinary Afghan woman who has lived through one. This book makes more appalling the fact that the US and the NATO nations are spending billions of tax payers' money to invade Afghanistan and drive the ordinary Afghani's lives into further destruction and despair.
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