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The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice Hardcover – February 16, 2021

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Editorial Reviews


“An inspiring look at the all-female militia that helped fight ISIS—and shine a light on women’s capabilities and rights—in Syria.” People

“Fascinating . . . The inspiring story about the Kurdish women warriors who took on the terrorists of the Islamic State in Syria and won.” —
Good Morning America

“For many people outside Iraq and northeastern Syria, the Islamic State remains an abstraction. For the commanders of the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), one of the most intrepid fighting forces on the ground, the terrorist group was anything but. . . . Few, if any, writers have told their story better than Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, whose
The Daughters of Kobani records in rich detail the story of the female Kurdish fighters who achieved mythical status as a key part of the U.S.-backed force that ultimately defeated the Islamic State. Lemmon . . . vividly chronicles the YPJ’s grueling fight with the Islamic State on the battlefield. . . . The reader can feel the tension in a sniper’s knees as she crouches for a shot and hear the hiss of Islamic State fighters taunting the female commanders over the radio.” Foreign Policy

“A riveting story of women in combat. . . . Compelling. . . . A tale that’s sure to shock anyone who believes that combat is exclusively a man’s job.” —

“A must read for anyone who wants to feel inspired by women defying the odds to create change, or those who can appreciate courageous journalism.”
Marie Claire

“Impressively reported. . . . It’s a story not only about the warriors who battled ISIS against all odds, but also a reminder of the ways in which the world is still divided by gender—and how that’s changing in Syria, the Middle East, and the world at large.”
Town and Country
“Handling difficult topics with adroit respect and care, Lemmon offers a story that’s eminently relatable and speaks to the ongoing fight for women’s rights the world over. This is a story that needed to be told and needs to be heard. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in current events and women’s history.”
Library Journal (starred review)
“Lemmon’s books . . . have extolled heroic women fighting sexism in the Islamic world. Now she’s back with
The Daughters of Kobani, a remarkable true story about an all-female Kurdish militia who helped drive ISIS from northern Syria.” —

“The Women’s Protection Units (the YPJ) proved their heroism time and again throughout the campaign against the Islamic State. I was always concerned that our Syrian Kurdish partners would never get their full due; this excellent book by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon documents their contributions perfectly. I strongly recommend it.”
—Joseph L. Votel, General, US Army (Ret)

“A fascinating portrait of Kurdish female fighters and their role in the Syrian civil war and the fight against the Islamic State. . . . Riveting. . . . [Lemmon] unravels the complex history of the region with skill. This deeply reported account enthralls and informs.” —
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The Daughters of Kobani is proof of the power of women to shape their future and the power of girls to create the world in which they want to live. The brave example these women have set against the longest odds should inspire us all.” —Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code and author of Brave, Not Perfect

“A well-told story of contemporary female warriors and the complex geopolitical realities behind their battles.“

The Daughters of Kobani is an unforgettable and nearly mythic tale of women’s power and courage. The young women profiled in this book fought a fearsome war against brutal men in impossible circumstances—and proved in the process what girls and women can accomplish when given the chance to lead. Brilliantly researched and respectfully reported, this book is a lesson in heroism, sacrifice, and the real meaning of sisterhood. I am so grateful that this story has been told.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic and Eat, Pray, Love

“One of America’s premier storytellers has risked her life to research perhaps the most important subject of our times: the empowerment of women and the establishment of a truly egalitarian society. Documenting the extraordinary struggles of a small group of women battling ISIS, Lemmon has showed us unequivocally what female leadership can do for a society. It is breathtaking to behold.” —
Sebastian Junger, author of Tribe
“Absolutely fascinating and brilliantly written,
The Daughters of Kobani is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand both the nobility and the brutality of war. This is one of the most compelling stories in modern warfare.” —Admiral William H. McRaven, author of Make Your Bed
“This book is the extraordinary and humbling story of the women leading the fight against ISIS.” —
Angelina Jolie, actor, director, and activist
The Daughters of Kobani is real-time history told with rigor and heart. Marrying two important narratives—the United States’s entry into the Syrian conflict from the air and the lived experience of Syrians fighting ISIS on the ground—it is a remarkable contribution.” —Hassan Hassan, co-author of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror

“This passionate and incisive book takes us into the radically brave hearts of the women who fought ISIS.
The Daughters of Kobani is a gift to the women of the Middle East and to us, inscribing their sacrifice onto the history of a war no one will soon forget.” —Azadeh Moaveni, author of Guest House for Young Widows
“Moving and inspiring, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s
The Daughters of Kobani vividly recounts the astonishing story of the all-women’s army that fought and died to stop ISIS. These are fiercely brave women whose courage is unforgettable.” —David Ignatius, columnist for The Washington Post and author of The Paladin
The Daughters of Kobani offers a courageously reported, must-read account of a group of women fighters who risked everything to defeat ISIS and take their future into their own hands. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon has written an invaluable book for those seeking to understand the direction of twenty-first century conflict.” —August Cole, co-author of Burn-In

About the Author

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Ashley's War and The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She regularly appears on CNN, PBS, MSNBC, and NPR, and she has spoken on national security topics at the Aspen Security Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, and TED. A graduate of Harvard Business School, she serves on the board of Mercy Corps and is a member of the Bretton Woods Committee.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Press; First Edition (February 16, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0525560688
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0525560685
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.08 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.25 x 1.03 x 9.27 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 1,475 ratings

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Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield (2015) and The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (2011), about a young entrepreneur who supported her community under the Taliban. Ashley’s War is currently being developed into a major motion picture at Universal. Her next book, for Penguin Press, is set in northeastern Syria and will be published in February 2021. The Daughters of Kobani tells the story of what ISIS has left in its wake: the most far-reaching experiment in women’s equality in the least likely place in the world brought to you by young women who have been battling ISIS town by town, street by street since 2013. These young women served as America’s ground force in the fight to defeat the Islamic State and The Daughters of Kobani tells for the first time the story of how they came to serve as America’s partner.

Lemmon, who serves as an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, along with private sector leadership roles in emerging technology and national security, began writing about entrepreneurship in conflict and post-conflict zones while studying for her MBA at Harvard following a decade covering politics at the ABC News Political Unit. This work from Afghanistan, Rwanda, Liberia, Bosnia and beyond has been published by the World Bank, Harvard Business School, the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review and CNN, among others. Following MBA study, she led public policy analysis during the global financial crisis at the global investment firm PIMCO.

Lemmon is a frequent speaker on national security topics, including at the Aspen Security Forum and TED forums, and has given talks at West Point, ODNI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the National Infantry Museum. Her TED Talk on Ashley’s War and the reshaping of the hero story to include women has received more than a million views worldwide. She regularly appears on MSNBC, CNN, PBS, and National Public Radio. Along with her national security work, she has reported and written extensively on topics including child marriage in the United States for PBS NewsHour and on school choice, single moms and the power and importance of girls’ ambition for The Atlantic. Lemmon holds an MBA from Harvard and received the Dean’s Award for her work on women’s entrepreneurship. In addition to serving as a Robert Bosch Fellow in Germany, she served as a Fulbright scholar in Spain, on the board of the international aid organization Mercy Corps and is a member of the Bretton Woods Committee. She speaks Spanish, German and French and is conversant in Dari and Kurmanci.

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
1,475 global ratings

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Punchy England
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Story Badly Written
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on August 17, 2021
Gabriel Stein
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on October 31, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Women at war in the modern era
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on May 2, 2021
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Women at war in the modern era
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on May 2, 2021
In giving voice to the brave women fighters of the all female YPJ Women's Protection Units (YPG= Yekîneyên Parastina Jin) who fought against ISIS, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon joins other outstanding authors Kazimiera Cottam, Gian Piero Milanetti, Reina Pennington, and Anne Noggle (who have written on military women's units of WW2) in recognizing the incredible contribution of women to their countries and countrymen.

Patriotism knows no gender and Kurdish women have aptly demonstrated that. Fighting ISIS when international countries stood by and offered no assistance, these women helped stop the expansion of ISIS, saved and rescued thousands of individuals from death or enslavement, eventually liberating their homeland and more!

It is also the story of inspiring women's rights and equality within Kurdistan and encourages it within the middle east. It is a story of courage and sacrifice, fierceness and femininity. Above all, it is the voice of these brave women who were willing to sacrifice all for the survival of others.

For anyone interested in women's rights, women's regiments, and women in combat, I highly recommend this book. It is an outstanding and very honest view of the Kurdish women who fought ISIS and won!
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5.0 out of 5 stars everyone should read this book
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on May 19, 2021
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Jean-Paul Azam
5.0 out of 5 stars Un livre magnifique et très convaincant
Reviewed in France 🇫🇷 on October 27, 2022
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