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Guest House for Young Widows

Among the Women of ISIS
Lu par : Sarah Agha
Durée : 13 h et 57 min
5 out of 5 stars (1 notation)

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Description

A gripping account of 13 women who joined, endured, and, in some cases, escaped life in the Islamic State - based on years of immersive reporting by a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Finalist for the Baillie Gifford Prize • Named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly and one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review • NPR • Toronto StarThe Guardian

Among the many books trying to understand the terrifying rise of ISIS, none has given voice to the women in the organization; but women were essential to the establishment of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s caliphate.

Responding to promises of female empowerment and social justice, and calls to aid the plight of fellow Muslims in Syria, thousands of women emigrated from the United States and Europe, Russia and Central Asia, from across North Africa and the rest of the Middle East to join the Islamic State. These were the educated daughters of diplomats, trainee doctors, teenagers with straight-A averages, as well as working-class drifters and desolate housewives, and they joined forces to set up makeshift clinics and schools for the Islamic homeland they’d envisioned.

Guest House for Young Widows charts the different ways women were recruited, inspired, or compelled to join the militants. Emma from Hamburg, Sharmeena and three high school friends from London, and Nour, a religious dropout from Tunis: All found rebellion or community in political Islam and fell prey to sophisticated propaganda that promised them a cosmopolitan adventure and a chance to forge an ideal Islamic community in which they could live devoutly without fear of stigma or repression.

It wasn’t long before the militants exposed themselves as little more than violent criminals, more obsessed with power than the tenets of Islam, and the women of ISIS were stripped of any agency, perpetually widowed and remarried, and ultimately trapped in a brutal, lawless society. The fall of the caliphate only brought new challenges to women no state wanted to reclaim.

Azadeh Moaveni’s exquisite sensitivity and rigorous reporting make these forgotten women indelible and illuminate the turbulent politics that set them on their paths.

©2019 Azadeh Moaveni (P)2019 Random House Audio

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Global
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  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03/06/2020

An important topic, but a problematic book

*If you are looking at this book because want to understand why these women joined the Islamic State even after the knowing about genocide of Yazidis or other atrocities, you will not get even a shred of an answer. The reason I chose this book is because I wanted to humanize these women and better understand their story. I didn't expect that probably the majority of the book would be the author's analysis of the political, social and economic context of these women's lives. I got bored and timed one hour of the book in the middle: about 40 minutes were context analysis and only 20 minutes were about these women. This wouldn't be such a problem if the author's analysis was well done. To be sure, there are some brilliant moments of analysis, but there are so many misleading ones of opinions that are stated as facts. For example, she states as fact that the South Asian Jihadists are jerks to the others because of British colonialism, a point that is bad sociology at best and completely irrelevant to the story of these women that she is supposed to be telling (and this is obviously not what the girls thought but only what the author thinks). But many of the "facts" she states are not as benign as this one. She misleadingly describes Alawites as definitively not Muslims but only pretending because Assad told them to. This is a weakly supported opinion, not an agreed upon fact. The issue of who does and does not count as a religious adherent (especially regarding minority groups in the middle east) is a very complicated issue and there was no need for her to pronounce her ruling on the issue as if it was fact and that all Alawites are just lying. Ironically she is guilty of engaging in the the same kind of labeling as Muslim or non-Muslim that her IS subjects do. She blames a lot on the west, which is often fair, but sometimes not. She goes off on how Arab dictators are US backed pawns and jumps straight to Assad, who is quite the opposite as a generally anti-US leader. I would let all this pass, but as she rails against the west again and again, she almost completely omits anything bad ISIS did or just mentions it in passing. She has multiple, really long rants against the British tabloid press (which I thought was quite well done), but never even mentions the Yazidis genocide, and when other atrocities are mentioned, they are only done so in passing and as relatively minor background events even though they seem more relevant to the women's lives. It's so evident that she wants to push back on the unfair rightwing narrative in the west, but she forgets to really talk about ISIS (or worse just doesn't think they were that bad). If you didn't already know about ISIS, you could read this book and think that ISIS wasn't that bad, which to me is a huge failure of this book. If this was actually just a book about these women's stories from their perspective, it would be okay, but the book is dominated by the authors context analysis and not ever addressing the victims or these women's responsibility as part of IS is honestly disgusting. At one point near the end, she has a long section on how people have tried to push their own narratives on these women. These section was well done, but I almost burst out laughing since this was my exact criticism of her and what had annoyed me so much that I almost didn't finish this book. It came off as a lack of self-awareness on the part of the author. If you aren't already super familiar with the region and the issues being discussed, you are not likely to notice that a lot of the book that is intended to come off as neutral providing of context is actually just the author's opinions. And this last thing is minor, but as I know the region well, I noticed several obvious provable falsehoods that I thought she would have fact checked. Almost all the distances in the book are so wrong and obvious to anyone who knows the region. It is physically impossible to get across Turkey in a bus in 8 hours - the bus it takes at least 17 just from Istanbul to Gaziantep and then several more from there. Also, her character can't possibly commute from Raqqa to al-Hasakah to go to University everyday, that would be an 8 hour round trip. There are many more little things that just of add up to a seed of doubt in my mind about how much of this is accurate. This would be a good book for someone who thinks that anyone who had any affiliation with IS was an inhuman monster, as this book is a greatly over compensating counter-narrative, but for the rest of us, I don't really recommend this book. PS: the narrator was great

2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carolyn
  • 24/05/2020

Unlike anything else I have read

...wow. I wish I had a more eloquent way of starting this out, but I am just going to stick with the visceral reaction I had to this gut-wrenching, mind-boggling, and incredibly impactful book. For decades, the subject of terrorism has pervaded nearly every facet of life, from changes to the law in the name of national security, immigration policy, and even popular culture. An ugly and sinister vein of xenophobia and nationalism has grown throughout the west. Meanwhile, life for many citizens from south Asia to the Middle East to Africa has become a revolving door of corrupt governments, military interventions from other nations, sectarian violence, echoes of colonialism, and religious fundamentalism and extremism. What does all this mean to a woman who is a practicing Muslim? As the stories in this book show, it means a lot of different things. It means fear, uncertainty, disillusionment, defensiveness, and an incredibly complex search for identity and empowerment when it seems the whole world demands something different of you, with many of those demands in direct conflict with one another. More than anything these stories put human faces to these very real women; to situations in their lives you may never experience, to choices you may never have to make, to beliefs that may starkly contradict your own. And, these are not pat, neatly-wrapped fables or morality plays. These are the lived experiences of women who, for one or many reasons, were drawn into the Islamic State and what it purported to represent. Do not go into this book with judgment in your heart. If you cannot set aside anger and condemnation for long enough to get through this book, wait until you are at an emotional point where you can. It sets forth a complex and challenging narrative, and a reader would do themselves a disservice by picking up this book with a preconceived notion of what the "women of ISIS" will mean. If you can approach this book with your mind open to seeing these women, their dreams, their choices, and how their lives have played out, it is an amazing read that will stay with you.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • C
  • 09/04/2020

captivating

absolutely captivating stories of the women, need to read in few sittings or might be confusing to keep up with who is who

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jacques Roberge
  • 04/12/2019

Outstanding account providing context and understanding of women’s experiences in middle eastern wars

Balanced, engaging and well researched accounts of the lives of a group of young Islamic women who were involved, in varying degrees, with ISIS.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Interprétation
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kara
  • 04/11/2019

wow!

Azadeh Moaveni has done it again! Her ability to tell such a captivating story knows no end.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lisbeth
  • 25/09/2019

Enlightening

This is a fascinating and revealing view of the lives of young women who, for a variety of reasons, became emeshed in the world of ISIS and the Islamic State throughout the last decade. It is well researched and clarified some of the misconceptions I had about this aspect of the world.