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Sand Queen Hardcover – August 2, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is 'The Things They Carried' for women in Iraq...feels right and true." -- Boston Globe

Praise for Sand Queen

“This is The Things They Carried for women in Iraq . . . feels right and true.”
Boston Globe

"Benedict interviewed around 40 female veterans of the war in Iraq to tell this completely heartbreaking, vivid story of the particular difficulties of being not just a soldier, but a female soldier."
—Bustle

“[A] thrilling and thoughtful new novel . . . [Kate] is a character readers won't soon forget.”
Publishers Weekly

“Funny, shocking, painful, and, at times, deeply disturbing, Sand Queen takes readers beyond the news and onto the battlefield.”
Booklist

“This bleak novel explores the horrendous impact of the Iraq war on women, both soldiers and civilians . . . [an] unforgettable testament.”
Kirkus Reviews

“An eye-opening glimpse into a life that many Americans have never seen.”
Library Journal

“Told in compellingly vivid detail with the clear ring of truth every step of the way.”
Free-Lance Star

“If you missed out on serving in the Iraq War, you can, if you're willing, be catapulted right into the midst of some of its more challenging moments courtesy of Ms. Benedict's gutsy prose. Her interviews with over 40 female veterans show up as action flow and dialogue in Sand Queen, a novel that will leave you deeply unsettled if not shaken to the root of your being.”
The Herald-Dispatch

"Every war eventually yields works of art which transcend politics and history and illuminate our shared humanity. Helen Benedict’s brilliant new novel has done just that with this century’s American war in Iraq. Sand Queen is an important book by one our finest literary artists."
—Robert Olen Butler 

“Helen Benedict’s compelling story provides an intimate picture of what it means to be a soldier, what it’s like to live on the battlefield, and what the ethical choices are that our troops have had to make in Iraq. Benedict tells her story from two perspectives—that of a young American woman—a soldier—and a young Iraqi woman—a medical student—both of whose worlds are ravaged by the war. At times funny, at times grimly painful, Sand Queen offers a new chapter in contemporary American history.”
—Roxana Robinson, author of Cost and Sweetwater

"Every American who claims to value the lives of our soldiers should read this powerful, harrowing, and revelatory novel."
—Valerie Martin, author of Trespass

“Ms. Benedict pulls off this audacious gambit because she is an exceptional writer and storyteller. Her gritty depiction of a soldier’s life in the Iraq desert is particularly well done. Sand Queen is powerful precisely because Helen Benedict is so pissed off.”
New York Journal of Books

“A convincing and affecting portrait of two resilient young women caught up in war.”
Shelf Awareness

“In writing what might be the first major woman’s war story and alternating points of view between opposing sides, Columbia professor Helen Benedict has created something enormously fresh and immediate on this sadly ancient topic.”—Chronogram.com


Praise for the work of Helen Benedict

"A stunning chronicle of abuses suffered by women enlisted in the U.S. Army and serving in Iraq."
Los Angeles Times

“Benedict, an author of both fiction and nonfiction (Sailor’s Wife; Virgin or Vamp), offers distinctive cross-cultural insights as well as a cadre of satiric and fascinating characters, and the result is a story that is both touching and humorous. Highly recommended.”Library Journal
 
“Benedict offers an engaging, lush portrait of envy, desire, and the insatiable lure of the exotic and unknown.”
Booklist
 
“An armchair traveler’s delight, Benedict’s novel is an amusingly poignant look at the British abroad in the spirit of Evelyn Waugh.”
Publishers Weekly

“A comedy of bad manners reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh.”
New York Daily News

“Benedict has written a novel lush with exoticism yet rooted, finally, in the common experience of what it is to love.”
Women’s Review of Books

“[The Edge of Eden] reads as though it could have been written in the early 20th century, right alongside of the work of Evelyn Waugh and W. Somerset Maugham . . . [a] dangerous, mesmerizing tale.”
Cleveland Plain-Dealer

"The Lonely Soldier is an important book, a crucial accounting of the shameful war on women who gave their bodies, lives and souls for their country.”
─Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues

 
"A beautifully written novel by a most entertaining and accomplished writer . . . compelling, intelligent, insightful."
—Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

About the Author

Helen Benedict, a Columbia University professor, has written four previous novels, five nonfiction books, and a play. Her novels have received citations for best book of the year from the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago and New York Public Libraries.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press; No Edition Stated edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569479666
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569479667
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,193,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Helen Benedict (www.helenbenedict.com) is the prize-winning author of eleven books, the last two of which are about the Iraq War. Her latest novel,"Sand Queen," about a female soldier and an Iraqi civilian in the war, came out in paperback in August, 2012 from Soho Press.

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Robert Olen Butler said about the book, "Every war eventually yields works of art which transcend politics and history and illuminate our shared humanity. Helen Benedict's brilliant new novel has done just that with this century's American war in Iraq. Sand Queen is an important book by one our finest literary artists."

"Sand Queen" is based on Benedict's research for her most recent nonfiction book, "The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq" (Beacon Press, 2009 and 2010). She won three major awards for that book and her articles on soldiers: The 2010 Exceptional Merit in Media Award from the National Women's Political Caucus, The Ken Book Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness for 2010, and the 2008 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism.

Benedict's writings on women in the military have inspired an ongoing lawsuit against the Pentagon on behalf of women and men who were sexually assaulted while serving in the military, and also inspired the award-winning documentary, The Invisible War. Benedict has also testified twice to Congress on behalf of women in the military. She is a professor of journalism at Columbia University.

Further early praise for "Sand Queen":

"Helen Benedict's compelling story provides an intimate picture of what it means to be a soldier, what it's like to live on the battlefield, and what the ethical choices are that our troops have had to make in Iraq. At times funny, at times grimly painful, Sand Queen offers a new chapter in contemporary American history." -- Roxana Robinson, author of Cost

"Anyone who claims to value the lives of our soldiers should read this powerful, harrowing, and revelatory novel." -- Valerie Martin, author of The Confessions of Edward Day and Trespass

Benedict's earlier novels are The Edge of Eden, The Opposite of Love, The Sailor's Wife, Bad Angel, and A World Like This. The Los Angeles Times and New York and Chicago Public Libraries have named her novels best books of the year, and she has received fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Freedom Forum.

Her nonfiction includes Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes, Portraits in Print and Recovery: How to Survive Sexual Assault.

Helen Benedict's other articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, Glamour, The Women's Review of Books, and in many other magazines. She has been published in many countries and is included in several anthologies. www.helenbenedict.com.

Photographer Copywright Credit Name: Emma B. O'Connor, 2010.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John Hearn on August 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I teach at a small, rural community college in southwestern New York. It's a job that provides me with an opportunity to meet and learn from quite a few veterans of our Middle Eastern wars. I just finished a summer course that included five vets in a class of twenty, two of whom were female. When I ask my female students who have served overseas about gender issues in the military during war, I hear the same story, one detailing a systematic, relentless, pattern of harassment. (And I hear this only when I ask; otherwise, these students are typically silent on the issue.) These young women are often subject to combat situations, without the official recognition or public awareness that they are; they are in many ways not fully accepted into our male dominated military, without adequate official recognition or public understanding that this is so; they are routinely burdened by degrading gender-based stereotypes and are too frequently threatened or actually assaulted, without any just recourse; upon return to civilian life, they are seldom treated to the token "thank you for your service" greeting from fellow citizens (one given countless times to our male veterans) who are unable to perceive them as warriors; when they break down, they are less likely to be understood and, when they are treated, are subject to relatively unhelpful care modalities that were developed for males.
For several years now I've wondered how and if any of this will change. I've assumed that for it to, the men who control our military institution will have to want that change, and that our public will have to encourage them to want it. My optimism that this transformation is possible has been bolstered by Helen Benedict's Sand Queen.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By deeper waters on May 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Based on hours of research and interviews with the people who personally experienced combat in Iraq, Helen Benedict has written an intelligent and thought provoking commentary on the reality of war. Told by two young women, Army Specialist Kate Brady who guards detainees and Naema, a young Iraqi woman seeking information about her imprisoned father and little brother, the short and long term costs of war become clear. Both of them are idealistic, decent, hopeful, stubborn and intent on doing something positive with their lives but quickly are overwhelmed by the weight of military occupation . There are no winners in the story, just as there are no real winners in war.....only the corpses of the dead and the living dead for whom life will never be the same. There is no justification for terrorism , human debasement, violence or vengeance regardless of who is dishing it out and no amount of spin will change this truth. We are quick to be critical of the treatment of Iraqi women while giving tacit approval to the abuse of women soldiers. Too often we are ignorant about or choose to ignore the fact that our military intervention and presence destroys rather than wins the minds and hearts of the people on both sides of the conflict. Benedict invites us to honestly confront these and other critical issues in this well written novel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Lee Stotter on September 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you care about women, if you care about the experiences of women in the military, if you care about what it is to live in a warzone, Sand Queen is a must read. You will smell and feel and see Iraq through the lens of two women from different sides of the conflict there.

I cannot say enough good things about this book, but I can tell you that I have been working on a multi-platform project about disabled female veterans for two years, I have been working with veterans for 7 years, and I was ambushed by the emotional intensity and intellectual depth of Sand Queen.

This book will push your deepest buttons. Land mines come to mind.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Set in 2003, this novel brings the reader into the war in Iraq and into the heart and soul of one female soldier. From the very first page I was hooked and wound up reading the whole 300-page book in one day. The author is a well respected teacher of journalism at Columbia University and has written many books, among them a recent non-fiction book about American women serving in the armed forces.

The story follows two women. One is the 19 year-old American who joins because of an idealist notion that she will be doing something good for her country. The other is a young Iraqi medical student whose father and young brother have been arrested by the Americans. Both of these women live through horror. And both of them got my sympathy

The American soldier is constantly harassed by the men in her unit and there is one description of an horrific rape attempt. Her life is awful, not only because of the dust, heat and steady fear, but because of the military system that refuses to believe her allegations and actually puts her in harm's way as a punishment. Mostly though, she is stationed at a position above a prison, guarding the prisoners who expose themselves, perform disgusting sexual acts in front of her and hurl their own feces at her.

The Iraqi young woman lives in a world where most men have been taken away. There is little or no electricity and a scarcity of food. She lives with her mother and grandmother and hears horrific stories about the years her father was a prisoner of Saddam Hussein.

How this all turns out for both of these women is the stuff of nightmares. This is a sad book, one that makes all the horror of what the war in Iraq means to female soldiers up close and personal. It is paced so well that I literally could not put it down and I learned more about the war in Iraq than I ever wanted to know.
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