Sisters in War
Sisters in War
A Story of Love, Family, and Survival in the New Iraq
Random House (NY), Hardcover, 9781400067046, 335pp.
Publication Date: September 29, 2009
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.
“A rare, beautifully written insight into the haunting ways in which women have been affected by the conflict.”
– The Financial Times
“Sisters in War is a brilliant, powerful and convincing story of three women from the same Iraqi family. . .It is not only a story of women fighting for their liberated lifestyles. It is a story of Islamic traditions, religion, politics and power versus American lifestyle, American power and American belief.”
-The Feminist Review
“Few books capture the complexity and diversity of Muslim women and the varying views on their place in Islam as Sisters in War: A Story of Love, Family, and Survival in the New Iraq by journalist Christina Asquith. A true page-turner."
“Journalist Asquith went into hiding with a Baghdadi family she had befriended, and investigated what life meant for Iraqi women. She also immersed herself in the lives of a few Americans who remained there, devoted to creating at least small solutions to the massive problems of local women, both new and historical. Sisters in War is the formidable fruit of her reporting."
Asquith has won admiration from many feminists and Iraqi activists for exposing this struggle. Her resounding message is that a country committed to ensuring the needs, success and prosperity of women is a country worth fighting for.”
– Roll Call, 09.2009
“Christina Asquith has written a brilliant book, extraordinary in concept and execution, the most intimate and moving portrait I have read of the early American disaster in Iraq. It is a shifting and powerful portrait of disillusionment seen through the hopeful eyes of American and Iraqi women colliding with the hard realities of religion, politics, power, and morality in a traditional society. Sometimes, to see a thing fresh, we need to look at it from a different vantage. Asquith’s young women, from the courageous and committed American feminists to their Iraqi counterparts, who must cope with cultural constraints their new Western friends can hardly imagine, are all victims of the criminal arrogance and naïveté of the U.S. occupation. This is a work of reporting and writing that will last.”—Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down
“Christina Asquith’s description of the wild incompetence–and dedication– of early American efforts in Iraq reads like a great novel but with the added weight of history. And her focus on women, both American and Iraqi, makes this book uniquely valuable among the many on this long war. Asquith is a fine writer and, clearly, a very brave reporter. She has filled in several crucial pieces of the Iraq puzzle, and done it beautifully.”—Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm