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


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307267148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307267146
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (674 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. New York Times columnist Kristof and his wife, WuDunn, a former Times reporter, make a brilliantly argued case for investing in the health and autonomy of women worldwide. More girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century, they write, detailing the rampant gendercide in the developing world, particularly in India and Pakistan. Far from merely making moral appeals, the authors posit that it is impossible for countries to climb out of poverty if only a fraction of women (9% in Pakistan, for example) participate in the labor force. China's meteoric rise was due to women's economic empowerment: 80% of the factory workers in the Guangdong province are female; six of the 10 richest self-made women in the world are Chinese. The authors reveal local women to be the most effective change agents: The best role for Americans... isn't holding the microphone at the front of the rally but writing the checks, an assertion they contradict in their unnecessary profiles of American volunteers finding compensations for the lack of shopping malls and Netflix movies in making a difference abroad. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics, universally inspired by Half the Sky, used their reviews as an opportunity to take up its message. They praised not only Kristof and WuDunn's clear moral stance and explanation of the issues but also the way they combined individual women's stories and practical advice to give the book an optimistic tone. Reviewers pointed out some flaws, particularly the authors' focus on individual action (such as providing a list of hospitals and schools to direct charity to) while neglecting to criticize the policies of Western governments. As more than one reviewer pointed out, Saudi Arabia, a country with one of the worst records of oppressing women, is a U.S. ally. Nevertheless, critics encouraged readers to pick up Half the Sky, which, according to the Seattle Times, "will ignite a grass-roots revolution like the one that eliminated slavery."

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Customer Reviews

The book is very well written and easy to read.
warriorfan706
This book will leaving you feeling hopeful and powerful and let you know that everyone can and should try to make a difference in this world!
J. C. Goldenberg
Just finished a terrific book, "Half the Sky," by Nicolas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, about changing women's opportunities worldwide.
Organa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

192 of 204 people found the following review helpful By C. T. Boone on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was able to read most of an advance copy of this book before Bill Drayton (founder of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public) snatched it away and ran off with it on his annual 2-week hiking trip to the mountains.

I think this has to be the most important book - not just for women's rights globally but for human rights - published in my memory.

Kristof and WuDunn weave together a most compelling story of how culture and customs historically suppress women. They tackle many tough, taboo topics - for example honor killing. But more importantly, they champion the stories of heroic women worldwide wholly committed to changing the many evils of the status quo.

What is more, they posit a kind of general framework theory that the really important advances in human rights that are going to be made in the near future are going to be brought about by these entrepreneurial pioneering women. In essence, that the backbone of the human rights movement and of real change across all societies is going to be a direct function of brave women who give themselves permission to say "NO" to thousands of years of (to most Westerners) unimaginable oppressive cultural customs and who take it upon themselves to lead to a new way. Once you have read the book, it is very hard, if not impossible, to disagree with Kristof and WuDunn's general theme. To wit, the brave women of Iran who took to the streets to protest the results of the recent election.
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235 of 258 people found the following review helpful By Cindi Smith on September 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This may be one of the most important books I have ever read. I heard Mr. Kristof on the radio and the title caught my attention. After the first page, the book caught my heart. This is such a well researched and well written book that I could not put it down. We all realize that women the world over face challenges that women in the US never have to face. Prepare to have your eyes opened when you open this book. I dare you not to be moved, and I dare you to do nothing after reading it. The women who share their stories here are some of the most courageous and strongest women ever, and they are changing their world for the better.
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115 of 125 people found the following review helpful By Samantha on December 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a feminist, I really looked forward to reading this book. I was lucky enough to find it at a book swap and didn't have to pay for it myself. Boy, am I glad I didn't. I give it three stars for what is trying to be accomplished: raising awareness about the plight of women around the world.

Despite the heroic effort to bring this worldwide tragedy to light, Kristof and WuDunn have done a serious disservice to journalism, especially of the investigative nature. While their attempts to draw attention to the oppression of women through statistics as well as grueling and gruesome stories deserve an applause, they consistently pushed ideas without revealing the whole truth. This is lying through omission.

In the section on prostitution, Kristof and WuDunn routinely would dismiss Western prostitution as "voluntary" and would flippantly dismiss the idea that women of America and other Western cultures can be enslaved. Page 24 of this book really revealed how disgustingly inattentive Kristof and WuDunn have been to sexual slavery in the West. "Moreover, Western men usually go with girls who are more or less voluntary prostitutes..." Combine this with page 9, "We certainly don't think of prostitutes as slaves, forced to do what they do, for most prostitutes in America, China, and Japan aren't truly enslaved." Are they out of their minds? Either they have turned a blind eye to the nature of prostitution as a whole or they are purposefully leaving it out in order to make the culture of prostitution of more developing countries appear more bleak. Let us not forget the average of prostitutes in America is roughly 15-years-old. That doesn't sound very voluntary to me. I highly suggest they take a look at some of Rachel Lloyd's work and maybe they'll stop spewing such ignorance.
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94 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Monica M. Harrington on September 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When I read an advance copy of this book, I was so stunned that I contacted the authors and told them I wanted to do whatever I could to help get the word out. It is a compelling and important work -filled with riveting anecdotes and a powerful, optimistic message about the opportunity we all have to support a movement that has the power to transform lives around the world. Read the book, and then go to [...] to learn more about how Lifting Women Lifts the World.
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480 of 577 people found the following review helpful By MARLA SMITH-NILSON on October 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I believe in book's main premise: by empowering women and girls, we can change the world and help end poverty. However, I found it disappointing and shocking to read this entire book and not find a single story about water and sanitation. You can't even find the word "water" in the index.

No doubt, the stories Nick and Sheryl tell are horrific and inspiring, and women living in poverty face obstacles that I can't even imagine. But, as I read it, I felt it was more of a collection of anecdotes from Nick and Sheryl's international travels rather than as advertised: a "must-read" and "call to arms" about how we can end global poverty.

Having spent 19 years working in international aid, I don't see how you can seriously talk about helping women in poverty and not mention water or sanitation. For millions of girls from poor households, there is a straight tradeoff between time spent in school and time spent collecting water. For their mothers, time spent collecting water means they have little time for more productive work or rest.

Being without access to water means that to obtain the water they need to survive, people resort to ditches, rivers and lakes polluted with human or animal excrement, and they carry that water home on their heads or backs, causing chronic back pains and sores, wearing flip flops if they are wearing shoes at all, walking uphill on steep, rocky or muddy paths. This daily walk for water saps their energy, diminishes their health status, and prevents them from participating in economic and social activities that are vital to the development of communities.
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