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Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War

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In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia's women together--and together they led a nation to peace. As a young woman, Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn h In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia's women together--and together they led a nation to peace. As a young woman, Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action, propelled by her realization that it is women who suffer most during conflicts--and that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force. In 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia's ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace.--From publisher description.


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In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia's women together--and together they led a nation to peace. As a young woman, Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn h In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia's women together--and together they led a nation to peace. As a young woman, Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action, propelled by her realization that it is women who suffer most during conflicts--and that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force. In 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia's ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace.--From publisher description.

30 review for Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Konnik

    I'm about to cast a very unpopular review, unfortunately there is just no way around it. "Mighty Be Our Powers", was simply unmotivational. I must first give credit to Leymah Gbowee for her personal account of the Liberian war. The atrocities are unimaginable, unfortunately there in lies my issue with her recount of this devastating piece of African history. The majority of this novel is an introduction of how she felt throughout a good 10 years. Every moment, memory, challenge is simply a glimp I'm about to cast a very unpopular review, unfortunately there is just no way around it. "Mighty Be Our Powers", was simply unmotivational. I must first give credit to Leymah Gbowee for her personal account of the Liberian war. The atrocities are unimaginable, unfortunately there in lies my issue with her recount of this devastating piece of African history. The majority of this novel is an introduction of how she felt throughout a good 10 years. Every moment, memory, challenge is simply a glimpse. I would like to have had more of an in depth view of three or four major events that she'd witnessed and lived to tell, rather then a paragraph or two of dozens of memories. So many stories and memories went unresolved. Where I feel she could have gone more in-depth, I feel she the time was spent on acronyms of programs that quite honestly bog down the heart of the story. With each acronym, some type of name dropping was sure to follow. The book would have been better titled if it commented on how "Program Reform Changed a Nation at War." I desperately longed to learn more about the people in her life, and how they overcame the suffering together. I wonder if this kind of commitment to character is lacking because she herself doesn't really know the people who carried her. The brief passing about her children was a little shocking to say the least, considering she'd been surrounded by people who'd allowed her to abdicate her role as mother to do things that needed to be done. I find many of her challenges and need to overcome, come from a selfish place. A place where she does it because she feels the need to prove something, and compensate for the things she felt were taken from her. Her accomplishments seemed to be more like personal victories versus community movements. They say a great leader is the one who gives praise to others. There is no praising others in this retelling. I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge her ability to move mountains in a country where the devil himself sat looking at her from his power-seat. There is no doubt that she performed a modern day miracle. I just wish more time was spent on developing characters and story. Name dropping, and organization hoping was ineffective, and wasted valuable content space. The lives she saved are immeasurable, I'm sure. It just kinda feels like she makes every effort to ensure we don't forget it . Great piece of sociology, just feels more like a lecture then a lesson. I was really hoping I would feel inspired and moved to do something.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    Lemah Gbowee has come as close as it is humanly possible to staring the devil in his face. She didn't blink, lived to tell about it, and is now the co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. In this memoir she describes her journey from hopelessness to empowerment. It is a story that will touch the hearts of any reader who dreams of a better world. This is the memoir of a woman who experienced the devastation and horror of civil war in her native Liberia. In many ways her life was broken when th Lemah Gbowee has come as close as it is humanly possible to staring the devil in his face. She didn't blink, lived to tell about it, and is now the co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. In this memoir she describes her journey from hopelessness to empowerment. It is a story that will touch the hearts of any reader who dreams of a better world. This is the memoir of a woman who experienced the devastation and horror of civil war in her native Liberia. In many ways her life was broken when the war shattered her girlhood hopes and dreams. A victim of circumstances beyond her control she ended up as a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse. In 1999 she found herself utterly depressed, mother of four children, separated from the father of her children, and with no ideas for a possible future for herself and her children. Somehow she found the strength to turn her depression and bitterness into positive action. She began to work at helping those traumatized by the war and by promoting steps toward reconciliation and forgiveness. She gradually gained the realization that it is women who suffer the most during conflicts, and that if united women are in a unique position to do something about it. "When it comes to preventing conflict or building peace, there’s a way in which women are the experts." She read about Martin Luther King and Gandhi, and she began to see the possibility of the power of women working together to create a compelling force for peace. "I read the Politics of Jesus [by Yoder], which talked of Christ as a revolutionary, fighting injustice and giving a voice to the powerless. I read Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi and the Kenyan author and conflict and reconciliation expert Hizkias Assefa, who believed that reconciliation between victim and perpetrator was the only way to really resolve conflict, especially civil conflict, in the modern world. Otherwise, Assefa wrote, both remained bound together forever, one waiting for apology or revenge, the other fearing retribution." Driven by her growing passion for her new found cause she helped organize and led the Women In Peace Building Network (WIPNET). This organization organized a coalition of Christian and Muslim women to stage mass actions to call for an end to violence and demand that there be peace. They confronted Liberia's ruthless president and rebel warlords in ways that only the mothers of Liberia could have done without being shot on the spot. The actions of these women is an amazing story which I first learned about one evening while TV channel surfing. I came across the movie "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," a documentary about the role of women in bringing peace to Liberia. The bravery and audacity shown by the women in this film took my breath away. If you watch the DVD be sure to also watch the "extra feature" about the making of the film. I thought it was interesting to note that the film makers at first had a difficult time finding archival film footage of the women's mass action because CNN and other American networks had ignored the actions of the women. They had tons of footage showing young kids toting Kalashnikovs, but ignored the women demonstrating for peace. The BBC did a bit better job, but some of the best footage came from a former government videographer who hid his films in his house after President Taylor fled the country. I think almost everyone agrees now that the action of these women hastened the end of the war, and consequently reduced the amount the death, destruction and suffering. Nevertheless, the postwar conditions were devastating. "A war of fourteen years doesn't just go away. In the moments we were calm enough to look around, we had to confront the magnitude of what had happened to Liberia. Two hundred and fifty thousand people were dead, a quarter of them children. One in three were displaced, with 350,000 living in internally displaced persons camps and the rest anywhere they could find shelter. One Million people, mostly women and children, were at risk of malnutrition, diarrhea, measles and cholera because of contamination in the wells. More than 75 percent of the country's physical infrastructure, our roads, hospitals and schools, had been destroyed."After the war, WIPNET was very much involved in securing the peace. "Peace isn't a moment, it's a very long process." Gbowee's post-war reputation for peace building now made her in demand as a speaker at international conferences. This exposure broadened her horizons, and she began to study techniques of reconciliation and peace. She is very complimentary of Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Virginia where she earned a Master's Degree in conflict transformation studies. The movie, "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," allowed the whole world to learn about the peace building activities of the women in Liberia. This book must have been written prior to her winning the Nobel Peace Prize because I don't recall any mention of it in this book. A reader of my review thus far could perhaps conclude that Leymah Gbowee must be a saint. To her credit she included in her memoir admissions to a number of mistakes and shortcomings in her life. The details of her family life and her organizational efforts are filled with nitty gritty problems, conflicts and jealousies. Her work at peace building took all of her time so she pretty much turned over her role as mother to her children to her sister. (Her sister was the one who deserves sainthood; unfortunately she unexpectedly died at age 40 which was a devastating loss to the children in her care.) During the worst stages of the civil war Gbowee's children were out of the country, safe in Ghana, while Gbowee stayed in Liberia to work for peace. Leymah Gbowee's website: http://leymahgbowee.com/

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    MIGHTY BE OUR POWERS by Leymah Gbowee with Carol Mithers, 2011 #ReadtheWorld21 📍 Liberia My #NobelLaureate reading paused in November, but back in December to read the memoir of 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Gbowee, who shared the Prize that year with fellow Liberian, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Yemeni journalist, Tawwakol Karman. The 3 were noted for "for their non-violent efforts to promote peace and their struggle for women’s rights". Gbowee's memoir details her work to organ MIGHTY BE OUR POWERS by Leymah Gbowee with Carol Mithers, 2011 #ReadtheWorld21 📍 Liberia My #NobelLaureate reading paused in November, but back in December to read the memoir of 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Gbowee, who shared the Prize that year with fellow Liberian, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Yemeni journalist, Tawwakol Karman. The 3 were noted for "for their non-violent efforts to promote peace and their struggle for women’s rights". Gbowee's memoir details her work to organize the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a women's coalition that was instrumental in ending Liberia's 14-year civil war. She details some of her struggles in the book, those of addiction, tough relationships with family members, and the work that kept her from family for months at a time. She is unflinching in this book, laying out all her criticisms, her beliefs, and her own failings. Some parts were hard to read (war, child soldiers, rape, extreme poverty) and others felt like could have been edited down, e.g. there's a lot of policy and acronyms thrown around that seemed to take away from the personal stories. ✴️ Her words about the fundamental importance of local engagement in recovery, rebuilding, and reconciliation work after war vs. United Nations or multi-national NGOs efforts, not understanding the culture and geography, etc., was one of my biggest take-aways from this.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Mighty Be Our Powers is truly one of the most inspiring books I've ever read. If you doubt the power of a female-only space, read this book. If you are interested in conflict resolution, read this book. If you wonder how one woman can inspire a nation to fight for peace, read this book. I can not recommend this book highly enough. Leymah Gbowee is an amazing, real woman and one of my role models. Mighty Be Our Powers is truly one of the most inspiring books I've ever read. If you doubt the power of a female-only space, read this book. If you are interested in conflict resolution, read this book. If you wonder how one woman can inspire a nation to fight for peace, read this book. I can not recommend this book highly enough. Leymah Gbowee is an amazing, real woman and one of my role models.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Naori

    2.5 This may be purely my mind space but I think, without falling into the inspiring trap, this was an extraordinary movement that was based on some alternative but very smart techniques. It just seemed like the writing was in contention with the soaring points of the text and I felt like it had the ingredients to take off; however my book just hopped off my lap and fluttered to the ground, a fledgling. Again, my tired mind could be looking at the wrong pool of water but I had hoped for a better 2.5 This may be purely my mind space but I think, without falling into the inspiring trap, this was an extraordinary movement that was based on some alternative but very smart techniques. It just seemed like the writing was in contention with the soaring points of the text and I felt like it had the ingredients to take off; however my book just hopped off my lap and fluttered to the ground, a fledgling. Again, my tired mind could be looking at the wrong pool of water but I had hoped for a better exposition for these creative, choreographed and savvy women.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amy Moritz

    Throw the word "sisterhood" in the title of something and I'm immediately intrigued. That's just how I roll. Oh, and add a segment on NPR and I'm probably really going to be interested in the book. Such was the case with Mighty Be Our Powers. With little knowledge of Liberia or the civil war there, I came to the book with an open mind. Leymah does a fantastic job of describing her country both before and during the conflict. Her personal story is one of choices she made and living with those con Throw the word "sisterhood" in the title of something and I'm immediately intrigued. That's just how I roll. Oh, and add a segment on NPR and I'm probably really going to be interested in the book. Such was the case with Mighty Be Our Powers. With little knowledge of Liberia or the civil war there, I came to the book with an open mind. Leymah does a fantastic job of describing her country both before and during the conflict. Her personal story is one of choices she made and living with those consequences both personally and later professionally. She struck me as a woman who was confident and determined yet not without some regret. At times, I felt the book became weighed down in the politics of the acronym groups working in Liberia and the surrounding countries and the transitions between her descriptions of political events and her own personal story were at a times abrupt and jerky. But the substance of the book is powerful. It's a perfect example that even those with the best intentions need to remember that all conflicts and problems need local solutions and that women are a vital part of the peace and rebuilding process. With her personal story, Leymah illustrates that we are never really a slave to our past decisions or life circumstances unless we choose to be held there. I can't help but be moved, even in my own privileged circumstances, by her close lines in the book "You are a symbol of hope. And so you, too, must keep on. You are not at liberty to give up." A powerful call to do what you can where you are. That's what changes the world.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patti

    This is the story of not only how a nation at war was changed but more basically it is the detailed story of the events in one woman's life which led her to that time and place where she could gather with and lead those women who made that change. Leymah gives a very detailed description of the events and phases in her life and doesn't gloss over the parts she regrets or those that were difficult. Not that it was ever easy but she had a support system to raise her children while she was becoming This is the story of not only how a nation at war was changed but more basically it is the detailed story of the events in one woman's life which led her to that time and place where she could gather with and lead those women who made that change. Leymah gives a very detailed description of the events and phases in her life and doesn't gloss over the parts she regrets or those that were difficult. Not that it was ever easy but she had a support system to raise her children while she was becoming the warrior woman she felt she must be. That was the very difficult trade off she regretfully chose. What she didn't choose were the horrific killings and rapes that were happening all around her. Those were what she knew she had to enable the women around her to stand up and fight against. "People who have lived through a terrible conflict may be hungry and desperate, BUT THEY'RE NOT STUPID. They often have very good ideas about how peace can evolve, and they need to be asked. That includes women. Most especially women. When it comes to preventing conflict or building peace, there's a way in which women ARE the experts. Think of how intimately women know their homes. If the lights are out, we can walk through rooms without bumping into anything. If a stranger has been there, we sense it. That's how well we know our communities. We know who belongs, and who is a potentially threatening stranger. We know the history. We know the people. We knew how to talk to an ex-combatant and get his cooperation, because we know where he comes from. To outsiders like the UN, these soldiers were a problem to be managed. But they were our children."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dimitris Papastergiou

    It was a good read. And a much more informative to the facts of the Liberian war than I expected. Too much violence, too much fucking disgusting reporters interviewing women and if you weren't raped during the war then they weren't interesting in finding out how was your life until the war ended. Like.. really?!... Laymah's story is a testament to human strength and the incredible power of peace. She achieved so much and made so many believe that they can stop this war that it's just unbelievable It was a good read. And a much more informative to the facts of the Liberian war than I expected. Too much violence, too much fucking disgusting reporters interviewing women and if you weren't raped during the war then they weren't interesting in finding out how was your life until the war ended. Like.. really?!... Laymah's story is a testament to human strength and the incredible power of peace. She achieved so much and made so many believe that they can stop this war that it's just unbelievable. One of the main shockers here was that she and other activists told women to stop having sex with their husbands as means to stop the war. It kinda worked, although many got beaten because of it, repeatedly, so I dunno if that was a good idea. Of course I don't live there and don't know how things were when the war wasn't ending over there, but it seems extreme to have to get beaten because you said you don't want to have sex. And that's a DUH point. Treading lightly here, but to be a woman in Lybia and to have to say no to sex as to achieve stopping the war with THAT, somehow seems... like what?! And yet, they did it, and they got beaten by their husbands, and not just a few, but most of those women. So... yeah... that's mainly why humans suck so much. Despite all the violence, all the raping and war caused mainly by men over there (duh), Gbowee and other activists have shown how courageous they can be in building peace in one of the most fucking violent places in the world.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    What happens when reality violently jerks into a GRUESOME, LIVING HELL? Not many teens I've spoken to know much about the Liberian War from the early 1990's to 2003. Yet that was one of the worst times in history- humans turned into disgusting creatures caught in chaos and no one was doing a thing about it. Finally, Leymah Gbowee, a strong yet lonely, hurting mother, changed everything with a demand for peace throughout West Africa with support from her fellow women. Her autobiography shook me to What happens when reality violently jerks into a GRUESOME, LIVING HELL? Not many teens I've spoken to know much about the Liberian War from the early 1990's to 2003. Yet that was one of the worst times in history- humans turned into disgusting creatures caught in chaos and no one was doing a thing about it. Finally, Leymah Gbowee, a strong yet lonely, hurting mother, changed everything with a demand for peace throughout West Africa with support from her fellow women. Her autobiography shook me to the core. I learnt so much about the true, uncensored horrors of war the western world is so ignorant about. But as well as historical facts and shocking figures, I was invited into the minds, opinions and passions of women who turned political leaders'(and men's) words and empty promises into fruitful action. This was a revolution of thinking; reaffirming the power of feminine determination and the importance of looking forward and working hard for the better future. For all high school students and above; for all the peacemakers, humanitarians and activists; for every individual seeking to work for a better tomorrow; this book is crucial, essential and perfect for all who have eyes and refuse to stay blind one moment longer.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    This memoir was interesting. It is about a woman in Liberia during their civil war. Her efforts helped to establish peace in their country and she went on to work internationally to being women into the peace process in Africa and the Middle East. Although the story was interesting, it often got bogged down in acronyms and justifications. Although after being irritated about some of the things she talked about and then justified, I realized she didn't have to add them at all and was probably (may This memoir was interesting. It is about a woman in Liberia during their civil war. Her efforts helped to establish peace in their country and she went on to work internationally to being women into the peace process in Africa and the Middle East. Although the story was interesting, it often got bogged down in acronyms and justifications. Although after being irritated about some of the things she talked about and then justified, I realized she didn't have to add them at all and was probably (maybe?) trying to be completely honest about all the complicated events that led her to where she ended up. Anyway, I found out she received a Nobel prize for her efforts and I did like how she empowered women who began with no rights at all. Anyway, not my favorite memoir, but interesting to read and educational. Don't tell anyone (as it will ruin my street cred) but it even teared me up at some points (in between some parts where I yawned).

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bailey

    This is a completely fascinating narrative of the Liberian Civil War that ended in 2003 - yes. I had no idea, and Gbowee actually won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 "for [her] non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work." This is a subject I knew nothing about, and I had no idea it was so recent. The book itself is a little dry, and reads like Gbowee relating the story to Mithers. I'm sure this is what happened, but I've read narra This is a completely fascinating narrative of the Liberian Civil War that ended in 2003 - yes. I had no idea, and Gbowee actually won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 "for [her] non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work." This is a subject I knew nothing about, and I had no idea it was so recent. The book itself is a little dry, and reads like Gbowee relating the story to Mithers. I'm sure this is what happened, but I've read narrated memoir before that felt more personal. It took me a while to read, and it was partially because of this. However, there are times when Gbowee's story is completely heartrending and emotional, as she talks about her family and her struggles with balancing her own life, especially with the undercurrent of alcoholism. I really enjoyed this.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amy Robertson

    I have another female role model. Leymah has given me more examples of the diverse forms that strength and courage can take.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ayesha

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I wept so many times as I read this!! This is one of the most touching books ever! What makes it even more sad is the fact that it is not fiction. Through this book, I gained an understanding of Liberia, Liberian civil war and Charles Taylor's regime. Leymah Gbowee wrote about how every conflict is different and needs to be treated with understanding and empathy. I am impressed by how she empowered women and led them to finally end Charles Taylor's regime non violently. As a leader she is always I wept so many times as I read this!! This is one of the most touching books ever! What makes it even more sad is the fact that it is not fiction. Through this book, I gained an understanding of Liberia, Liberian civil war and Charles Taylor's regime. Leymah Gbowee wrote about how every conflict is different and needs to be treated with understanding and empathy. I am impressed by how she empowered women and led them to finally end Charles Taylor's regime non violently. As a leader she is always continuously evolving and improving her own skills with new education and experiences. I think I just found my modern day role model in her!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    A couple of weeks ago I was at the library and I just so happened to stumble across Mighty Be Our Powers sitting there on the shelf. Many of you know that I'm attempting to read more non-fiction this year and that I'm participating in an Around the World reading challenge in the Goodreads.com group Around the World (In 52 Books). I didn't complete my challenge last year but I'm planning to this year so when I saw that this book was set in Liberia I knew this would be my read for that country. I' A couple of weeks ago I was at the library and I just so happened to stumble across Mighty Be Our Powers sitting there on the shelf. Many of you know that I'm attempting to read more non-fiction this year and that I'm participating in an Around the World reading challenge in the Goodreads.com group Around the World (In 52 Books). I didn't complete my challenge last year but I'm planning to this year so when I saw that this book was set in Liberia I knew this would be my read for that country. I'll be honest with you, while I had heard of the African nation of Liberia prior to my picking up Mighty Be Our Powers I didn't know too much about the country and I had no idea that it had suffered a brutal civil war that waged on and off for about two decades. However, by the time I finished this remarkable read by Leymah Gbowee about her experienced during that turbulent time in her country's history. In this powerful memoir Leymah describes her life before, during and after the war in Liberia. The account starts off not long before the war started when she was just a teenager starting college in the 1990's. She describes the care free life she lived before she moves on to retracing her life from after the war started and her life changed dramatically. At 19 years of age Leymah found herself pregnant and in an abusive relationship with an older man that was taking advantage of her youth and her naivete. Battling feelings of hopelessness and loneliness she takes the first step to better her life for herself and her little ones by leaving their father and moving home where after some time she begins the rough journey of piecing her life back together again. Leymah Gbowee's memoir is an inspiring read. Amidst a brutal civil war with many cards stacked against her she rises above many adversities to become a woman who leads others like her in the fight against poverty, rape and most of all the fight to bring international attention to the fact that women and children are often the ones who suffer most in times of war. I learned a lot about the country of Liberia and about this one woman's experience during the civil war that struck her homeland. The writing of this memoir was easy to read, she told her story like it happened and didn't once make her role in various organizations seem like she was the most important person. There was not one ounce of vanity in her depictions which I truly appreciated. I loved the fact that while she focused on her role as a leader that she is just one of many who are making strides to better the lives of her fellow Liberians and that they not she, are the unspoken heroes of the war. This book definitely sparked an interest in me to learn more about the people. culture and history of Liberia as well as the politics in the country. It also has me interested in checking out some of the NGO's that are in the country that are working to re-establish it's infrastructure and better the lives of the people. I highly recommend this memoir to anyone wanting to learn some amazingly hard life lessons from a woman who thought that she wasn't good enough to raise her own children to leading thousands of women. It's an inspirational read and while she does talk about her faith in the book she only does it in passing and doesn't force her religious beliefs upon the reader which is another thing that I liked about reading her memoir. If you want to learn a little bit and broaden your horizons I suggest you check this one out and it is one of the best memoirs I've ever read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

    I'll be honest and admit that I didn't know much about Liberia's civil war when I started this book. I didn't know much about Liberia. that was kind of the point of reading the book. And I think Ms Gbowee--Leymah--does a great job at communicating much of what occurred during the (ten years?) their county suffered through the horrific civil war. it's frightening to be reminded yet again how quickly a civilized and productive country can fall into horrific, genocidal civil war and violence. Leyma I'll be honest and admit that I didn't know much about Liberia's civil war when I started this book. I didn't know much about Liberia. that was kind of the point of reading the book. And I think Ms Gbowee--Leymah--does a great job at communicating much of what occurred during the (ten years?) their county suffered through the horrific civil war. it's frightening to be reminded yet again how quickly a civilized and productive country can fall into horrific, genocidal civil war and violence. Leymah tells her story in such a way that the pain and the fear are visceral, from repeating the screams of people being murdered outside in the streets, to the horror of seeing dead bodies, to the rage of frustration with a government of so many selfish, violent men, ignoring the needs of its civilians. Leymah fills us in on basic history that led up to the tensions that escalated into the war. She talks about key political figures that helped and hindered the war--and the peace--efforts. She explains basic international relations in the area, and demonstrates how fluid many national boundaries have been during times of violence and crisis. But mostly Leymah talks about herself, and her family, and how her life was affected by AND affected the war and the subsequent move for peace. She never pretends to be a perfect person--frankly, she's a hot mess a lot of the time, bouncing from one relationship to a married man to another, single mother to 4 children and a number more children, both strangers and extended family, a serious alcoholic through much of her life, and often very depressed--but through it all, strong and smart and learning. She didn't let her first serious relationship, with all its verbal and sexual and physical abuse, keep her down forever. She didn't let anyone other than herself define herself, or stop her from doing the things she needed to achieve, which in this book is primarily the Liberian peace movement. I also liked how Leymah's faith, however shaky at times, inspired her understanding of the world, and how it leaked out into her writing, the inclusion of relevant Bible passages, in a matter of fact, not preachy way. What Leymah and other women (and some men) managed to do in Liberia was inspiring. I appreciated learning about this time and place, about her life and about Liberia's history, no matter how horrifying her story sometimes became. It is a worthwhile read. Pick it up if you can, and appreciate the work brave women like her did to help secure a better future for their children and themselves. (Although I can't particularly recommend the audio version--it's read by a narrator with an American accent who adds nothing additional to the process.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Lima

    I heard Gbowee’s voice while reading the book. Powerful story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Julie Laporte

    Very empowering book for women. Inspiring. Made me realize just how much work can be done to achieve peace--and how many organizations and degreed programs/certifications/training there are available. Peace has always seemed like a sort of laissez-faire sort of concept for me (an over-simplification, but you get my drift)--a sort of ideal, and outside education and working for tolerance and conflict resolution, I wasn't sure how much a single person can do. This book will show you! I believe eve Very empowering book for women. Inspiring. Made me realize just how much work can be done to achieve peace--and how many organizations and degreed programs/certifications/training there are available. Peace has always seemed like a sort of laissez-faire sort of concept for me (an over-simplification, but you get my drift)--a sort of ideal, and outside education and working for tolerance and conflict resolution, I wasn't sure how much a single person can do. This book will show you! I believe even more now in developing a Department of Peace, and how powerful it could be. The first half of Leymah's story will break your heart. It's so hard to think of these things going on while I was prancing through my childhood, unawares. The second half of the book won't pull you along like the first, but I still felt obligated and privileged to read how Liberia's transformation was going to happen (and somewhat, that of West Africa). They still have a long way to go--but how far they've come in such a short time is amazing. The little I knew of African Modern History, I had a very hard time understanding how it could be so atrociously violent. Aspects of this narrative have helped me to understand...certainly not justify, but comprehend how one at least gets started off on that road. Kidnapping young boys from their villages, turning off their humanity and compassion, addicting them to drugs...and this on top of generations of oppression and powerlessness, which we we (the Western world) were not innocent bystanders of, but agitators. It's not easy seeing what a damaging role our governments have played in third-world politics. It's important that we understand our role then, but NOW, as well, especially in the things we purchase every day which transfer more and more power to heartless corporations, such as in the realm of food. Don't let this book cause you to feel powerless--your purchasing power is lifeblood for conscienceless companys....things you purchase every week, like coffee and bananas. Seek out fair trade and organic if you can't get local! (If you are interested in help identifying changes you can make in your purchases, switching to better sources, just ask me!)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This startlingly intimate memoir is uplifting and heart-wrenching, sometimes in the same paragraph. Ms. Gbowee pulls no punches describing her experiences during the decade-long civil war that destroyed much of her country. There are some scenes in this book that are incredibly difficult to read as she documents the terror and fear that were constant companions for thousands of Liberians for years on end. Ms. Gbowee is open about her personal failings, as well as the problems her country faced an This startlingly intimate memoir is uplifting and heart-wrenching, sometimes in the same paragraph. Ms. Gbowee pulls no punches describing her experiences during the decade-long civil war that destroyed much of her country. There are some scenes in this book that are incredibly difficult to read as she documents the terror and fear that were constant companions for thousands of Liberians for years on end. Ms. Gbowee is open about her personal failings, as well as the problems her country faced and still faces. But I so admire her willingness to be open about her mistakes, to use her experiences to lead her to empathy instead of despair, and to reach out to others. She, and those with whom she works, do an incredible amount of good, working for peace and justice and inspiring others - especially women - to take a stand as well. Ms. Gbowee is one of my heroes. This quote resonated with me: "Nothing feels distant anymore...Every conflict has a face, many faces. Every problem touches your heart." For more book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sherry

    I think Leymah Gbowee deserved sharing the Nobel Peace Prize this year. I think she is one tough, strong, visionary and determined woman. I think Liberia and other countries in Africa and beyond are lucky to have her present. I think women and men everywhere would be touched and inspired by reading this book. I know I was/am. I, too, echo the voice of the older Liberian lady's voice, "Don't stop. Don't ever stop." (and I liked learning about the Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA an I think Leymah Gbowee deserved sharing the Nobel Peace Prize this year. I think she is one tough, strong, visionary and determined woman. I think Liberia and other countries in Africa and beyond are lucky to have her present. I think women and men everywhere would be touched and inspired by reading this book. I know I was/am. I, too, echo the voice of the older Liberian lady's voice, "Don't stop. Don't ever stop." (and I liked learning about the Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA and some of the techniques that Leymah used with her women's groups like shedding the weight--giving away all your titles and putting them in a box and then sitting down and talking as equals and the most famous tho according to her more press than actual results, refusing to have sex with your husband until he stops fighting. I did NOT like reading all the violence, all the killing, all the Charles Taylor darkness and craziness. I have ordered the dvd of her story, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, and I think I am looking forward to watching it and sharing it with others.) Here's the link to her site: http://leymahgbowee.com/

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    This book was phenomenal. Simply put, it moved me. The author puts you IN the story. You picture the horrid conditions in Liberia, the slaughtering of innocent people. You feel her fear and desperation. You feel her drive for peace and you feel proud of her ambition for a better society in which to raise her kids. In wretched times of war, many people flee. They leave their country, never to return. She is working toward the dream of returning to her home. "My deepest dream, though, is to go home. This book was phenomenal. Simply put, it moved me. The author puts you IN the story. You picture the horrid conditions in Liberia, the slaughtering of innocent people. You feel her fear and desperation. You feel her drive for peace and you feel proud of her ambition for a better society in which to raise her kids. In wretched times of war, many people flee. They leave their country, never to return. She is working toward the dream of returning to her home. "My deepest dream, though, is to go home. My heartbeat is Liberia; I sleep, eat and breath Liberia. After everything that's happened, when I think of my country, I think of happiness." I finished the book on my flight back to the U.S., MY home. I sat there with a lump in my throat for a few minutes. Wondering if I'd have the strength to do what she is doing. Make the sacrifices she is making. She is patriotism personified. I cannot recommend this book enough. Read it and you will maybe gain some perspective about your own life's worries. You will be uplifted. You will be inspired.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Don

    women in foreground, 1822-1842 independence, did exactly what done to them, common to cheat on women—men as dog, too greasy to throw away too bitter to swallow, Monrovia, government run school with no books and striking teachers, dual citizenship, rice as gold dust, fear and gratitude, Jesus satan we rebuke you, boots and soldiers, never—belongs to God, 6K civilians in 2 months dead, allow them to win, count your blessings and it will surprise you what the Lord has done, tie my waist for you, ha women in foreground, 1822-1842 independence, did exactly what done to them, common to cheat on women—men as dog, too greasy to throw away too bitter to swallow, Monrovia, government run school with no books and striking teachers, dual citizenship, rice as gold dust, fear and gratitude, Jesus satan we rebuke you, boots and soldiers, never—belongs to God, 6K civilians in 2 months dead, allow them to win, count your blessings and it will surprise you what the Lord has done, tie my waist for you, hate self—drinking, reconciliation only way to resolve conflict, need for micro loans $600 shoe business, trust in God to provide and take children with you, reconcile with God-yourself-environment-offender, tyrants always lose in end, if smell fear then abuse, boys lost, sudden rain brings sheep and goats under same cover, volatile UN sponsored gun buyback shame, UN blew bulk of funds on staffing resources food and cars, UN a system not innovative, woman president, laughter enables more touching, pray the devil back to hell movie, goodness always vanquishes evil.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    "This is not a traditional war story. It is about an army of women in white standing up when one else would—unafraid, because the worst things imaginable had already happened to us. It is about how we found the moral clarity, persistence and bravery to raise our voices against war and restore sanity to our land. You have not heard it before, because it is an African woman's story, and our stories rarely are told. I want you to hear mine." “Because of women like her, because of women like us, I be "This is not a traditional war story. It is about an army of women in white standing up when one else would—unafraid, because the worst things imaginable had already happened to us. It is about how we found the moral clarity, persistence and bravery to raise our voices against war and restore sanity to our land. You have not heard it before, because it is an African woman's story, and our stories rarely are told. I want you to hear mine." “Because of women like her, because of women like us, I believe that in the end, tyranny will never succeed, and goodness will always vanquish evil. Although I may not see it in my lifetime, peace will overcome. I believe, I know, that if you have unshakable faith in yourself, in your sisters and in the possibility of change, you can do almost anything. The work is hard. The immensity of what needs to be done is discouraging. But you look at communities that are struggling on a daily basis. They keep on—and in the eyes of the people there, you are a symbol of hope. And so you, too, must keep on. You are not at liberty to give up.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Scout

    Leymah Gbowee is an absolutely amazing, inspiring, incredible women who took a hard past and hard life and turned it into something truly, unbelievably incredible. Mighty Be Our Powers is her memoir which is filled with more sorrow than joy, more tears than laughter, and more fear than peace. It all ended with a bittersweet ending filled with more joy than sorrow, more laughter than tears, and more peace than fear. Amazingly written and hard to put down Leymah Gebowee tells her story as it is. A Leymah Gbowee is an absolutely amazing, inspiring, incredible women who took a hard past and hard life and turned it into something truly, unbelievably incredible. Mighty Be Our Powers is her memoir which is filled with more sorrow than joy, more tears than laughter, and more fear than peace. It all ended with a bittersweet ending filled with more joy than sorrow, more laughter than tears, and more peace than fear. Amazingly written and hard to put down Leymah Gebowee tells her story as it is. As hard as it is to read she makes an impression that will remain for a long time. Beautiful and wonderful and incredible, Might Be Our Powers is something a lot of people will never be able to relate (that's probably a good thing too). I recommend this to everyone everywhere who has never wondered and has ever wondered what happens when one person decides to make a change for the good.

  24. 4 out of 5

    KrisTina

    It's embarrassing and really pretty inexcusable that I knew absolutely nothing about the Liberian peace effort before reading this book. I am continually amazed when I read these books (Half The Sky being the best) about how much bigger the world is than my own personal bubble. My amazement continues when I learn about these women that make a difference. This is an inspiring memoir. That being said - the way it was written was a bit confusing - she would go back and forth in time - she would call It's embarrassing and really pretty inexcusable that I knew absolutely nothing about the Liberian peace effort before reading this book. I am continually amazed when I read these books (Half The Sky being the best) about how much bigger the world is than my own personal bubble. My amazement continues when I learn about these women that make a difference. This is an inspiring memoir. That being said - the way it was written was a bit confusing - she would go back and forth in time - she would call some people by different names (nicknames at times, given names at other times) that made it not the easiest of reads. As powerful and moving as Leymah's story is - I think it could have been told much better. I plan on watching the documentary based on her movement "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" this week.

  25. 4 out of 5

    marcus miller

    Honest, open look at the brutality of war and civil conflict and the impact it has on individuals, particularly women and their families. Instead of being defeated, Gbowee is, with the help of friends and family, able to pull herself out of a horrible situation. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, Gbowee uses some of her personal experiences to help other women and their families in war-torn Liberia. Gbowee shares some of the strategies she and other women used to bring about a peaceful resoluti Honest, open look at the brutality of war and civil conflict and the impact it has on individuals, particularly women and their families. Instead of being defeated, Gbowee is, with the help of friends and family, able to pull herself out of a horrible situation. Rather than wallowing in self-pity, Gbowee uses some of her personal experiences to help other women and their families in war-torn Liberia. Gbowee shares some of the strategies she and other women used to bring about a peaceful resolution to the long lasting conflict in Liberia. Gbowee is honest about her faults and her short comings, but it is clear she is a women of clear convictions and many talents. Fortunately she has used those to help improve the lives of many others, particularly those of women and children

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peter Heinrich

    I started this book almost by accident, and really wasn't looking forward to the difficult subject matter—even if this memoir eventually turned out to be uplifting, faith-affirming, inspirational, eye-opening, etc. It was all those things, of course. Gbowee tells an intensely personal story that feels genuine and unguarded, maybe at the cost of a little polish. She doesn't ignore her own shortcomings; she's not a saint. In this context, though, that just serves to emphasize how extraordinary chan I started this book almost by accident, and really wasn't looking forward to the difficult subject matter—even if this memoir eventually turned out to be uplifting, faith-affirming, inspirational, eye-opening, etc. It was all those things, of course. Gbowee tells an intensely personal story that feels genuine and unguarded, maybe at the cost of a little polish. She doesn't ignore her own shortcomings; she's not a saint. In this context, though, that just serves to emphasize how extraordinary changes may be effected by ordinary people. Part II of the book contains the meat of her activist history, and I found it the most engaging. (Part I describes the early experiences critical to her development as a peace worker; Part III is an extended epilogue.)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Betty

    An uplifting and extraordinary story. This amazing woman along with the women of Western Africa have achieved astonishing things- not just peace in Liberia, which was the start her recognition. Gbowee manages to relate her memoir without dwelling on the horror of the war and with out bitterness. Her wide knowledge of peace procedures shines through and adds to the personal aspect of the memoir. I really enjoyed her ability to explain how these things in Africa could happen, and also how the issu An uplifting and extraordinary story. This amazing woman along with the women of Western Africa have achieved astonishing things- not just peace in Liberia, which was the start her recognition. Gbowee manages to relate her memoir without dwelling on the horror of the war and with out bitterness. Her wide knowledge of peace procedures shines through and adds to the personal aspect of the memoir. I really enjoyed her ability to explain how these things in Africa could happen, and also how the issues could be solved.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline Bussie

    I had the incredible experience of bringing Leymah Gbowee to Concordia College to speak as a guest of my office in November 2014. I was her host for two days on campus. She was an absolute inspiration. She drew a crowd of over 800 people and she received three standing ovations. This memoir recounts her heroic actions as an interfaith activist and persevering leader who ended a Civil War in her own nation using nonviolence and solidarity. I recommend it to anyone who believes in hope, or needs a I had the incredible experience of bringing Leymah Gbowee to Concordia College to speak as a guest of my office in November 2014. I was her host for two days on campus. She was an absolute inspiration. She drew a crowd of over 800 people and she received three standing ovations. This memoir recounts her heroic actions as an interfaith activist and persevering leader who ended a Civil War in her own nation using nonviolence and solidarity. I recommend it to anyone who believes in hope, or needs a dose of it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Springer Mock

    An amazing story about Gbowee's powerful influence in Liberia. This book was a reminder to me that strong women can make a difference, even in places where patriarchy seems overwhelming. Even more importantly, Gbowee's ability to draw the women of Liberia together and create peace in the midst of war shows me that retributive violence does not always--or ever--need to be the answer. The women of Liberia were able to create peace in a situation that seemed helpless. An amazing story about Gbowee's powerful influence in Liberia. This book was a reminder to me that strong women can make a difference, even in places where patriarchy seems overwhelming. Even more importantly, Gbowee's ability to draw the women of Liberia together and create peace in the midst of war shows me that retributive violence does not always--or ever--need to be the answer. The women of Liberia were able to create peace in a situation that seemed helpless.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Budd

    Started - May 17, 2012 and completed June 6, 2012. Excellent read - written by a courageous woman! What are my takeaways? 1) Leymah wrote this book to inspire change beyond the borders of Liberia. 2) The power of community in action is indomitable. 3) Everyone has the power to be a peace builder. http://ontheroadbookclub.com/ Started - May 17, 2012 and completed June 6, 2012. Excellent read - written by a courageous woman! What are my takeaways? 1) Leymah wrote this book to inspire change beyond the borders of Liberia. 2) The power of community in action is indomitable. 3) Everyone has the power to be a peace builder. http://ontheroadbookclub.com/

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