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A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice Hardcover – October 20, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One of the few women, and the youngest, to win a seat in Afghanistan's Parliament, Joya recounts in strong, uncompromising language her march to activism, from her humble origins to recognizing a burning need to bring the corrupted leaders to justice in her war-torn country. Native to the western Afghan province of Ziken, and later Farah City, Joya—a name she had to adopt in order to protect her family—grew up mostly in desperate, unsafe refugee camps in Pakistan after the Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1978. With only a high school education (and one wonders how she wrote this book in English), she nonetheless became a teacher in the camps, then worked to organize underground classes for girls in Herat in defiance of Taliban edicts. Her activism grew, supporting orphanages and war victims after the Taliban fled and the U.S. began air strikes and became an armed presence; Joya is adamant in underscoring the responsibility America holds in reinstalling to power the same warlords (commanders she names in the Northern Alliance) who once tore the country apart during the civil war of the 1990s. Having won election to Parliament in 2005 at age 27—Eva Mulvad's film Enemies of Happiness documented her election—Joya was outspoken in condemning these warlords she called criminals and antiwomen, enduring the shutting off of her microphone, assassination threats and, finally, suspension from Parliament. Joya is on a dangerous, eye-opening mission to uncover truth and expose the abuse of power in Afghanistan, and her book will work powerfully in her favor. (Oct.)
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From Booklist

In 2005 Joya was elected the youngest member ever of the Afghan parliament and remains one of the most controversial political figures in the country. She writes about her childhood as a part of a refugee family in Iran and Pakistan and her decision to work for Afghanistan’s women and children regardless of the deep personal cost. Joya has survived four assassination attempts and must keep the identity of her husband a secret for his own protection. She does not write with caution, however, and is both forthright and furious as she lashes out at those within Afghanistan and beyond its borders who treat its people and security with a criminal casualness. Americans will likely be shocked by her dim view of the “war on terror” and subsequent invasion of her country, but Joya pulls no punches as she spreads the blame among U.S. and Afghan leaders for the country’s woes and even refuses to spare President Obama. This is a very opinionated and clearly one-sided view of the Afghan War, yet it is a side rarely heard and thus adds a valuable voice to the annals of a conflict that shows no sign of ending. --Colleen Mondor

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143910946X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439109465
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #992,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

All in all this book is a very heavy read.
Malalai Joya's book contains hard, searing words for politicians around the world that are involved in Afghanistan's affairs.
What really made the book come to life was seeing her live in person.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By C. M. Springer on November 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the extraordinary story of an Afghan Woman who details her life as a child living in different refuge camps and later as a young woman fighting undergrown to educate women in the era of the Taliban. The author goes on to describe life now in Afghanistan and how hard the Afghan people still need to work in order to achieve true democracy and equal human rights for women. Malalai Joya denounces the misrepresentation of the current "democratic government" and their attempts to silent her.

This book is an eye-opener and a truly inspiring story.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Macke on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Malalai Joya has written a lucid book called "A woman among warlords-The extraordinary story of an Afghan who dared to raise her voice.".In it she tells of her upbringing during the war in Afghanistan in the 1980's. She describes how the family had to flee the fighting and live in dangerous conditions in Iranian refugee camps where many Afghans where persecuted. Then the family took refuge in Pakistani refugee camps where many of the Afghan orphans would later be recruited into the Taliban. After the Russians are driven out of Afghanistan with support from America the country is left to be ravaged by opposing factions of brutal warlords. The stories that Malalai reports here are incredibly brutal, with rape and murder becoming a commonplace thing in the Afghan scenery at this time. Some of these warlords who fought for power between 92 and 96 when the power vaccum developed would later become part of the new Afghan government under Hamid Karzai that America and Nato now support.

The Soviet empire had bombed and killed their way all across Afghanistan and now the warlords fighting was continuing to tear the place appart. Finally the Taliban took power in 98 and this brought some inital stability to the country but at a high price. Human rights suffered immensley as well as womens rights. Malalai went back into the country to start teaching the women reading and writing in underground schools. The Taliban misused Islam too and crearted a set of medieval, repressive rules in the name of their religion. She took risks teaching these classes but local Afghans demanded it, not wanting their girls to lack education. Many of the fun things for people had to be done on an underground level. Malalai recounts: "It was a challange to learn to eat icecream under the burqa".
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Sam Maktaba on November 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent overview of the recent history of Afghanistan from the first hand experience of Malalai Joya and the story of a courageous advocate for Afghan freedom and independence. A must read book for anyone interested in the current policy debate. Other books recommended by Malalai Joya on the subject include Bleeding Afghanistan (Kolhatkar), Descent into Chaos (Rashid), and I is for Infidel (Gannon).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Doomed01 on April 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Her book is highly inspirational, life changing to me by setting an example of speaking truth to power. Malalai Joya is my new heroine. A more descriptive title would be an "A Brave Women among War Criminals & Drug lords that runs the Karzai Government that tries to kill her". She is willing to die for her message against injustice & for freedom & democracy. She had at least 5 assassinations on her life. She credits her survival from leaks within the ranks of her enemies. Even associates of war criminals have some compassion. Even if she is killed as she says won't be the first or the last to die for the truth.

I couldn't put Afghan war in context before reading her book. We see glimpses of the truth in our media. But our media is as she says, "dust in the eyes of the world". Her book was shocking to me, even though I read "Killing Hope, U.S. military & C.I.A. interventions since World War II by William Blum". The Afghan war in the context of the U.S. helping Bin Ladin against the Soviets & aiding Saddam against Iran it is not surprising. She says her message is confirmed by "Human Rights Watch & Transparency International"; this is true. Larry Wilkerson who was Colin Powell's chief of staff from a different direction also confirms was she says.

There are two types of Muhajadeen. The 1st is the true patriots of Afghanistan that fought for freedom against the Soviet occupation. The 2nd type is the war criminals that killed tens of thousands of innocent Afghans & did thousands of rapes. The war criminal type has reinvented themselves as both the Taliban & "Northern Alliance". The Northern Alliance that killed 65,000 innocent Afghans in Kubul which maybe even worse than the Taliban is now the political elite in the Karzai's government.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jill D. Hoffmann on December 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story of Mlalai Joya, a young Afghan woman who fearlessly speaks out on the true situation in Afghanistan today; the injustices and especially on the corruption; she speaks of warlords and corrupt men in the government naming names and pulling no punches, AND SHE IS STILL LIVING IN AFGHANISTAN! It is amazing she is still alive, but there is no doubt in my mind that she will soon be martyred. You have to admire someone willing to lay down their life, especially at such a young age; this book moved me deeply, EVERYONE IN OUR STATE DEPARTMENT SHOULD READ THIS BOOK; I wish Obama and Hillary Clinton had.
The only criticism I have is that it could have been improved with more editing, but that is o.k., passion is passion.
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