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Book cover of Sisters in War: A Story of Women, Life, and Death in Iraq

Sisters in War: A Story of Women, Life, and Death in Iraq

by Christina Asquith

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Pages: 336
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781400067046






Available to Buy

Overview of Sisters in War: A Story of Women, Life, and Death in Iraq

Caught up in a terrifying war, facing choices of life and death, two Iraqi sisters take us into the hidden world of women’s lives under U.S. occupation. Through their powerful story of love and betrayal, interwoven with the stories of a Palestinian American women’s rights activist and a U.S. soldier, journalist Christina Asquith explores one of the great untold sagas of the Iraq war: the attempt to bring women’s rights to Iraq, and the consequences for all those involved.

On the heels of the invasion, twenty-two-year-old Zia accepts a job inside the U.S. headquarters in Baghdad, trusting that democracy will shield her burgeoning romance with an American contractor from the disapproval of her fellow Iraqis. But as resistance to the U.S. occupation intensifies, Zia and her sister, Nunu, a university student, are targeted by Islamic insurgents and find themselves trapped between their hopes for a new country and the violent reality of a misguided war.

Asquith sets their struggle against the broader U.S. efforts to bring women’s rights to Iraq, weaving the sisters’ story with those of Manal, a Palestinian American women’s rights activist, and Heather, a U.S. army reservist, who work together to found Iraq’s first women’s center. After one of their female colleagues is gunned down on a highway, Manal and Heather must decide whether they can keep fighting for Iraqi women if it means risking their own lives.

In Sisters in War, Christina Asquith introduces the reader to four women who dare to stand up for their rights in the most desperate circumstances. With compassion and grace, she vividly reveals the plight of women living and serving in Iraq and offers us a vision of how women’s rights and Islam might be reconciled.

Synopsis of Sisters in War: A Story of Women, Life, and Death in Iraq

Caught up in a terrifying war, facing choices of life and death, two Iraqi sisters take us into the hidden world of women’s lives under U.S. occupation. Through their powerful story of love and betrayal, interwoven with the stories of a Palestinian American women’s rights activist and a U.S. soldier, journalist Christina Asquith explores one of the great untold sagas of the Iraq war: the attempt to bring women’s rights to Iraq, and the consequences for all those involved.

On the heels of the invasion, twenty-two-year-old Zia accepts a job inside the U.S. headquarters in Baghdad, trusting that democracy will shield her burgeoning romance with an American contractor from the disapproval of her fellow Iraqis. But as resistance to the U.S. occupation intensifies, Zia and her sister, Nunu, a university student, are targeted by Islamic insurgents and find themselves trapped between their hopes for a new country and the violent reality of a misguided war.

Asquith sets their struggle against the broader U.S. efforts to bring women’s rights to Iraq, weaving the sisters’ story with those of Manal, a Palestinian American women’s rights activist, and Heather, a U.S. army reservist, who work together to found Iraq’s first women’s center. After one of their female colleagues is gunned down on a highway, Manal and Heather must decide whether they can keep fighting for Iraqi women if it means risking their own lives.

In Sisters in War, Christina Asquith introduces the reader to four women who dare to stand up for their rights in the most desperate circumstances. With compassion and grace, she vividly reveals the plight of women living and serving in Iraq and offers us a vision of how women’s rights and Islam might be reconciled.

Publishers Weekly

This elegant narrative chronicles the lives of four women who experienced elation, hope and disappointment following the American invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam in 2003. Two Iraqi sisters glimpse a new life following years of oppression: Zia is fluent in English and obtains a job inside the Green Zone working for the Americans; Nunu, the younger and more timid sister, struggles to complete college in the increasingly dangerous urban environment. Asquith (The Emergency Teacher) deftly details the arduousness of establishing women's centers and getting women elected to office through her profile of Heather, once a wonky bureaucrat turned U.S. Army reservist, who must confront sexism within both the U.S. military and the unfamiliar Muslim culture. Lastly is Manal, a women's rights and antiwar activist born in America of Palestinian parents, who struggles to put aside her politics in the interests of helping Iraqi women succeed with the establishment of women's centers. Deftly chronicled by Asquith, who spent two years in Baghdad reporting from the front lines, this informative narrative offers readers a seldom heard female perspective into the everyday lives, struggles, disappointments and triumphs of four women during this chaotic and dangerous time. (Oct.)

About the Author, Christina Asquith

Christina Asquith was born in New York City and was educated at Boston University and the London School of Economics. A journalist for more than a decade, she has written for The New York Times, The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Guardian, and she was a staff writer at The Philadelphia Inquirer. She lives with her husband and their daughter in Burlington, Vermont.

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Editorials

Publishers Weekly

This elegant narrative chronicles the lives of four women who experienced elation, hope and disappointment following the American invasion of Iraq and the fall of Saddam in 2003. Two Iraqi sisters glimpse a new life following years of oppression: Zia is fluent in English and obtains a job inside the Green Zone working for the Americans; Nunu, the younger and more timid sister, struggles to complete college in the increasingly dangerous urban environment. Asquith (The Emergency Teacher) deftly details the arduousness of establishing women's centers and getting women elected to office through her profile of Heather, once a wonky bureaucrat turned U.S. Army reservist, who must confront sexism within both the U.S. military and the unfamiliar Muslim culture. Lastly is Manal, a women's rights and antiwar activist born in America of Palestinian parents, who struggles to put aside her politics in the interests of helping Iraqi women succeed with the establishment of women's centers. Deftly chronicled by Asquith, who spent two years in Baghdad reporting from the front lines, this informative narrative offers readers a seldom heard female perspective into the everyday lives, struggles, disappointments and triumphs of four women during this chaotic and dangerous time. (Oct.)

Kirkus Reviews

Portrait of women from varying backgrounds who share an abiding concern for and active involvement in the plight of Iraqi women enduring the challenges of war. The war in Iraq has yielded numerous accounts of its ravages, many written by and about women, whether native Iraqis living in turmoil, emigrants watching from afar, American soldiers stationed at the epicenter or activists from both countries working to rebuild a stable post-Saddam society. Journalist Asquith interweaves the experiences of more than a dozen women on various sides of the conflict. Recounting the anguish, outrage, courage, fears and triumphs of these women, the author shines fresh light on this culturally and politically complex country. While such firsthand reports as Riverbend's Baghdad Burning (2005) provide essential context, Asquith's assemblage of personal journeys effectively fuses into a universal message about human dignity, tenacity and generosity of spirit. Iraq's labyrinthine system of sociopolitical codes are most vividly illuminated through four woman: Zia, who lives with her parents in Baghdad; Manal, born in the United States to progressive Palestinian parents; Heather Coyne, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army's Civil Affairs Brigade; and Fern Holland, an American attorney working for the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in a rural Shia community. Asquith effectively deconstructs the Iraqi ethos, which is presented not as a collective ideology but as an intricate amalgam of nuanced philosophies, traditions and social cues, from the grave implications of a loose veil to the significance of bitter coffee to drastically varying interpretations of the Koran. Throughout, the chasm between Westernmyopia and Iraqi truths is manifest, as when Manal, trying to empower Iraqi women in tangible ways, bemoans the U.S. government's simplistic solutions, lamenting "they just loved bricks-and-mortar buildings that they could point to as accomplishments."A vital, edifying cultural investigation. Author tour to New York, Washington, D.C., Vermont

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