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The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice

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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The extraordinary story of the women who took on the Islamic State and won 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 g A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The extraordinary story of the women who took on the Islamic State and won 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 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 In 2014, northeastern Syria might have been the last place you would expect to find a revolution centered on women's rights. But that year, an all-female militia faced off against ISIS in a little town few had ever heard of: Kobani. By then, the Islamic State had swept across vast swaths of the country, taking town after town and spreading terror as the civil war burned all around it. From that unlikely showdown in Kobani emerged a fighting force that would wage war against ISIS across northern Syria alongside the United States. In the process, these women would spread their own political vision, determined to make women's equality a reality by fighting--house by house, street by street, city by city--the men who bought and sold women. Based on years of on-the-ground reporting, The Daughters of Kobani is the unforgettable story of the women of the Kurdish militia that improbably became part of the world's best hope for stopping ISIS in Syria. Drawing from hundreds of hours of interviews, bestselling author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon introduces us to the women fighting on the front lines, determined to not only extinguish the terror of ISIS but also prove that women could lead in war and must enjoy equal rights come the peace. In helping to cement the territorial defeat of ISIS, whose savagery toward women astounded the world, these women played a central role in neutralizing the threat the group posed worldwide. In the process they earned the respect--and significant military support--of U.S. Special Operations Forces. Rigorously reported and powerfully told, The Daughters of Kobani shines a light on a group of women intent on not only defeating the Islamic State on the battlefield but also changing women's lives in their corner of the Middle East and beyond.


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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The extraordinary story of the women who took on the Islamic State and won 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 g A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The extraordinary story of the women who took on the Islamic State and won 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 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 In 2014, northeastern Syria might have been the last place you would expect to find a revolution centered on women's rights. But that year, an all-female militia faced off against ISIS in a little town few had ever heard of: Kobani. By then, the Islamic State had swept across vast swaths of the country, taking town after town and spreading terror as the civil war burned all around it. From that unlikely showdown in Kobani emerged a fighting force that would wage war against ISIS across northern Syria alongside the United States. In the process, these women would spread their own political vision, determined to make women's equality a reality by fighting--house by house, street by street, city by city--the men who bought and sold women. Based on years of on-the-ground reporting, The Daughters of Kobani is the unforgettable story of the women of the Kurdish militia that improbably became part of the world's best hope for stopping ISIS in Syria. Drawing from hundreds of hours of interviews, bestselling author Gayle Tzemach Lemmon introduces us to the women fighting on the front lines, determined to not only extinguish the terror of ISIS but also prove that women could lead in war and must enjoy equal rights come the peace. In helping to cement the territorial defeat of ISIS, whose savagery toward women astounded the world, these women played a central role in neutralizing the threat the group posed worldwide. In the process they earned the respect--and significant military support--of U.S. Special Operations Forces. Rigorously reported and powerfully told, The Daughters of Kobani shines a light on a group of women intent on not only defeating the Islamic State on the battlefield but also changing women's lives in their corner of the Middle East and beyond.

30 review for The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zara

    US KURDS SAY NO. A white woman making a book about us and then allowing the Clintons to make a show about it?! Profiting off the Kurdish struggle when they wouldn’t know the first thing about it! When THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION SOLD WEAPONS TO TURKEY TO KILL KURDS AND NOW THEY WANT TO MAKE A SHOW ABOUT OUR FIGHTERS! NO, WHAT A SICK JOKE. At least allow Kurds to tell their own stories, not some white woman!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mainlinebooker

    Take one war. Combine with women's oppression. Mix with inestimable courage and bravery. The final product...the daughters of Kobani, Syria. Four major female characters are highlighted to illuminate the tenacity and heroism of the Kurdish women who became an all female militia and helped direct men in battle to take back their land against ISIS and other geopolitical forces. In a world where women are expected to be more docile, these rising warriors sacrificed much in the inhumanity of war. T Take one war. Combine with women's oppression. Mix with inestimable courage and bravery. The final product...the daughters of Kobani, Syria. Four major female characters are highlighted to illuminate the tenacity and heroism of the Kurdish women who became an all female militia and helped direct men in battle to take back their land against ISIS and other geopolitical forces. In a world where women are expected to be more docile, these rising warriors sacrificed much in the inhumanity of war. The author, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, spent several years researching and traveling to Syria to explore the history of the war and to observe this group of dedicated women fighting not only for their land and tribe but also for women's rights and long term political and social change. Kobani is pressed right up against the Turkish border along with nearby Iraq ,and the people experienced minimal rights within their own country being essentially stateless, with Arab families living on the land owned by the Kurds. The author, with painfully exhaustive research becomes a guide to the history of the war while giving tribute to the women. This non fiction piece is a testimony to accomplishing a goal with grit and boldness. Hillary Clinton thought so. Along with Chelsea, they are adapting this book as a TV series. May we all be so lucky to view both.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    I became familiar with the YPJ (the women's unit of the Kurdish People's Protection Units) a few years ago and was fascinated by the news reports and documentaries about these women fighting for their homeland and, by extent, the Kurdish culture which has so often been oppressed by majority governments. This book gives a good overview of the conflict in Syria, the various opponents, and the intervention (or lack thereof) by foreign powers. I was expecting to hear a bit from the YPJ women themsel I became familiar with the YPJ (the women's unit of the Kurdish People's Protection Units) a few years ago and was fascinated by the news reports and documentaries about these women fighting for their homeland and, by extent, the Kurdish culture which has so often been oppressed by majority governments. This book gives a good overview of the conflict in Syria, the various opponents, and the intervention (or lack thereof) by foreign powers. I was expecting to hear a bit from the YPJ women themselves, but the author focuses on four characters and the chapters detailing their backgrounds and actions during the war take on a third-person narrative style. There are also extensive passages about American agents liaising with Kurdish forces that -- while part of the overall story about fighting ISIS -- were not as interesting to me as the sections about the YPJ fighters. Overall I found this book good but I was hoping for more about the lives, thoughts, and dreams of the YPJ women and material that delved deeper than the mythical Amazon mantle their stories are so often shrouded in.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steven R. Netter

    I'm a big fan of strong female protagonists in thriller novels, but nothing beats the real thing. The Daughters of Kobani is an impressive tale featuring incredible Kurdish women commanding and fighting alongside their male counterparts to evict ISIS from their homeland. These women warriors displayed as much bravery, courage, tenacity, cunning, intelligence and righteousness on the field of battle as anyone I've ever read about throughout the history of armed conflicts. It's one thing to suppor I'm a big fan of strong female protagonists in thriller novels, but nothing beats the real thing. The Daughters of Kobani is an impressive tale featuring incredible Kurdish women commanding and fighting alongside their male counterparts to evict ISIS from their homeland. These women warriors displayed as much bravery, courage, tenacity, cunning, intelligence and righteousness on the field of battle as anyone I've ever read about throughout the history of armed conflicts. It's one thing to support the war efforts of your people, it's quite another thing to lead from the front and dispel the myth that women aren't equal to men in the military. These amazing women challenged conventional wisdom and went against their male-dominated society to simultaneously fight an armed, determined enemy and the just cause of equal rights for women. After years of horrible war with many losses, they reigned victorious in battle and in the politics of gaining rights for women. I salute these real life heroines and recommend everyone read this book. We all have a lot to learn from these incredible women.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Qale

    They are the greatest fighters against ISIS and Turkish backed militias

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ginger Stephens

    I was very excited when I finally received my copy of this book in February 2021. I pre-ordered it in October 2020 from Amazon, so that should tell you how much I looked forward to reading it. I heard a lot of good things about the book before I actually found time to start it. But, once I started reading, it definitely lived up to its expectations. I will admit that the Autonomous Area of North and East Syria (AANES) is very close to my heart. I have become very familiar with the situation in t I was very excited when I finally received my copy of this book in February 2021. I pre-ordered it in October 2020 from Amazon, so that should tell you how much I looked forward to reading it. I heard a lot of good things about the book before I actually found time to start it. But, once I started reading, it definitely lived up to its expectations. I will admit that the Autonomous Area of North and East Syria (AANES) is very close to my heart. I have become very familiar with the situation in that area since I found out that they took the children that Yezidi women were forced to give up when they were released by ISIS. The Yezidi community does not accept these children because their fathers were ISIS fighters, and a person must have two Yezidi parents to be considered a Yezidi. The government in AANES cares for those little ones and I believe that they receive better care that children in IDP camps. With all of that said, I enjoyed The Daughters of Kobani immensely. It was easy to read. I found it interesting that the women in the YPJ joined for one very simple reason: they wanted to control their own future. Most of them were disappointed by the restrictions that they families forced on them which denied them education and the type of life that they wanted, simply because they are girls. Their bravery in the fight against ISIS (Daesh) is a testimony to what determined women can do. I am glad that the story of how AANES included women's equality as one of their three main objectives was included. The difficulty of that in a patriarchal community should not be underestimated and it gives me hope that things can improve in that area, with enough support. I will acknowledge that the United States abandonment of the SDC has been an embarrassing page in U.S. diplomacy for me as an American citizen. The Turkish militias that have occupied AANES are little better than ISIS. They have committed atrocities against the civilian population and it appears that they treat Kurdish women like ISIS treated the Yazidi women. The book does not discuss the difficulty of rebuilding AANES because they are still part of Syria and the Caesar sanctions prevent a lot of international aid from reaching SDC-controlled areas. The Turkish occupation affects humanitarian aid for that area. To put it in perspective, non-profit groups that work in the IDP camps in Syria and Iraq consider AANES too dangerous to even attempt assistance. After reading The Daughters of Kobani, I think AANES deserves to be recognized as an official government so they can separate themselves from the Assad regime and start a program to build a better future for their people. It will take careful policy negotiations and a brave step on the part of the United States. I hope for the women who shared their stories in The Daughters of Kobani, and all the brave SDF members who fought for freedom from ISIS, that the U.S. will do this. They deserve nothing less.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    I loved Lemmon’s book “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana” so was really looking forward to reading her newest book. Unfortunately, it was not what I expected. I was expecting much more about the women themselves and their interaction, both in battle and privately. Instead, the book is mostly about the history of the Kurdish people and their determination to keep ISIS from taking over portions of Syria. The portions that did address the all-female militia (the YPJ) that defended Kobani were interesti I loved Lemmon’s book “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana” so was really looking forward to reading her newest book. Unfortunately, it was not what I expected. I was expecting much more about the women themselves and their interaction, both in battle and privately. Instead, the book is mostly about the history of the Kurdish people and their determination to keep ISIS from taking over portions of Syria. The portions that did address the all-female militia (the YPJ) that defended Kobani were interesting and portrayed these brave women nobly. Azeema, Rojda, Znarin, Nowruz, and Miriam are representative of all the women fighting not only to stop ISIS but also to prove that women could lead in war. They fought alongside their male counterparts (YPG), often directing and leading the attacks, and won the respect of the US Special Forces by fearlessly fighting against the men who bought and sold women. Their goal, beyond the defeat of ISIS, was to build a democratic and egalitarian society and to defend women from around the region wherever they faced discrimination or persecution, not just in Kurdish areas. A couple of favorite quotes: Miriam comments on ISIL - “Now they can talk to each other about getting killed by women instead of just beheading and enslaving them.” Nowruz says “One day we will be finished with this war. And then people will know that women showed their power on the front lines.” If you know nothing of the history of the Kurds, this is a good synopsis and would be worth reading just for that. Lemmon did an extensive amount of research and interviews for this book. I was provided an advance copy of the book by the publisher. The opinions expressed here are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Riaz Ujjan

    Excellent book by Gayle, telling tale of Kurd women fighters who faced brutal opponent in shape of ISIS in Syria & drove it out in 5 years. Who lost hundreds of their fighter in the campaign. Also shares other events unfolding. A must read book

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Compelling and powerful. This story is amazing, and the reporting/journalism done to uncover the details behind this incredible group of women is truly remarkable. I rarely say this, but I had a hard time putting this book down, it was so interesting and engaging that I kept wanting more. I highly recommend this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    christopher J. Lopko

    A TRUE Work of Reality To All the More Than Brave WOMAN who fought, I salute you, and wish you a long life. As well as the Proud Author, which you are.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rev

    Excellent recommended

  12. 4 out of 5

    LAPL Reads

    What began as the Arab Spring in early 2010, spread to country after country, in a region known as the Middle East. What began in Syria as a minor protest, devolved into a major catastrophic war that has not ended, and has had major effects worldwide. Caught up in all of this were the Kurds, an ethnic group native to Western Asia, with many of them living in parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The complex intricacies of their cultures, values, religions (groups and sub-groups)and political id What began as the Arab Spring in early 2010, spread to country after country, in a region known as the Middle East. What began in Syria as a minor protest, devolved into a major catastrophic war that has not ended, and has had major effects worldwide. Caught up in all of this were the Kurds, an ethnic group native to Western Asia, with many of them living in parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The complex intricacies of their cultures, values, religions (groups and sub-groups)and political ideas are delineated as clearly as possible by journalist Lemmon. Theirs is a history that has numerous twists and turns, and at times is difficult to absorb. Her journalistic skills and analysis shine a light on the fact that newsworthy events and catastrophes portraying events in terms of friends and foes could not be further from reality. Globally, modern women have been fighting to get into the fight, to be legally admitted to governmental armed forces. There is nothing new about the history of women warriors, in fact and myth, going back centuries, e.g., Queen Boudica of the Celts; the Amazons; Diana the Huntress; and women bandits and pirates. For the most part, what is significant about the women who fought in Kobani is that many of them were not clamoring to be warriors, but events, the desire for freedom and equality, the anger over the brutal savagery of ISIS proved to be decisive factors. Added to these motivating elements was the modern ideology of the imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who espoused that "women must be equal for society to be truly free." A fateful phone call to Lemmon called her back to a war, to witness, report and research the YPG, the Kurdish Women's Protection Units that were partners to U.S. forces in the region. These women were well-trained, highly motivated, careful and calculating fighters who led both women and men into battle. In numerous instances, the YPG women were in the lead in these battles, crossing the Euphrates River to liberate Manbij, and in the final liberation of Raqqa that was a major defeat for ISIS. Lemmon takes readers to the battlefronts with individual women who fought for territory and for ideals. Kobani, Syria is located at the border with Turkey, and it is where the YPG hit ISIS with a major clear loss. Part of the complex history of the Kurds is that the Turks had been fighting for many years with what they deemed to be Kurdish extremists. At a decisive time during the fighting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was about to deny access to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, which was used by the US Air Force. The YPG was part of a coalition that included US forces that depended upon support from the US Air Force. What ensued were alternating and confusing decisions by both the Obama and Trump administrations, and ended with an armed expansion of forces known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. This resulted in great victories over ISIS, but tragic and unjust results for the Kurds, as President Trump withdrew US troops from the region, which gave the green light for Turkish forces to lead an offensive against Kurdish-led northeastern Syria. The women of YPG were shocked but not deterred. In 2019, when Lemmon last visited the area, the women's councils, that were part of the overall plan for justice, were still in existence and there were towns in northeastern Syria that Turkey had not captured. As one of the women stated, "It is really painful to have to fight Turkey in the same places we liberated from ISIS." These women have not given up and know, " … it is so very difficult to build something in the middle of destruction." There is nothing certain about how this will be resolved. The only certainty is that the women, who fought for justice, remain dedicated to that cause and are encouraging others to do the same. Reviewed by Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Literature & Fiction

  13. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    Phenomenal testimony to the courage, perseverance, compassion and fortitude of female Kurds of Northeast Syria as they fight ISIS and all opposing factions to secure human rights for themselves and all their fellow citizens. The book highlights the lives of the women who take a stand for freedom at an early age against the wishes of families and the family patriarch in one instance (an Uncle) who cannot support them their cause in part because of their sex as well as the strength of those in pow Phenomenal testimony to the courage, perseverance, compassion and fortitude of female Kurds of Northeast Syria as they fight ISIS and all opposing factions to secure human rights for themselves and all their fellow citizens. The book highlights the lives of the women who take a stand for freedom at an early age against the wishes of families and the family patriarch in one instance (an Uncle) who cannot support them their cause in part because of their sex as well as the strength of those in power in providing consequences for their actions. They shun the lives they are to have by not accepting planned marriages and defy the deliberate curtailing of their education (one had aspiration for medical school). Each character : Nowruz, Rojda, Azeema, Znarin have been assigned names by the author to keep their anonymity. Their development into commander and revered members of the Women's Protection Units and their ultimate collaboration with those in leadership and guidance positions including Mazlum Abdi Head of the People's Protection Units and later head of the Syrian Democratic forces; I(lham Ahmed Co-president of the Syrian Democratic Council, Fauzia Yusuf, political leader and the American US Special Operation agents authorized to advise Brady Fox, Jason Akin, Leo James and Mitch Harper is explained. Interesting to note that one of the Americans assigned to train the forces commented that the females surpassed the males in fitness testing. Their action in battle observed by all of Syria earned them respect of others and converted those who had no hope in their efforts. Males could and did join their troops but by design no female was to answer to a male commander. That thousands would be under their wing ultimately representing not only Kurds but Arabs as well is a feat in and of itself. An awe- inspiring work that sings the praises of a group of Syrian Kurdish women who the world needs to know. That they aspired to the teaching of Abdullah Ocalan an advocator of women's rights should not be held against them as it was.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rustie

    This book revolves around the Women's Protection Units (YPJ), the famed all-female militia of Rojava many might have heard of. Specifically, it centres on three members of the YPJ: Azeema, Rojda, & Nowruz. It goes into their background, the struggles they faced in their early lives, & how these struggles & developments leading up to the civil war led to their joining of the YPJ. This provides a good tie-in toward exploring the feminist philosophy of Ocalan that inspired them & members of the YPJ This book revolves around the Women's Protection Units (YPJ), the famed all-female militia of Rojava many might have heard of. Specifically, it centres on three members of the YPJ: Azeema, Rojda, & Nowruz. It goes into their background, the struggles they faced in their early lives, & how these struggles & developments leading up to the civil war led to their joining of the YPJ. This provides a good tie-in toward exploring the feminist philosophy of Ocalan that inspired them & members of the YPJ, as well as the political ideologies of the main actors in Rojava & around it. The author is American, so generally the POV of the book leans toward American liberalism; it doesn't shy away from describing American actions that are clearly detrimental toward the Kurdish cause but nonetheless is not as critical of the US as it is of, for example, the Assad regime or the Russians. Regardless, the book provides as excellent a primer a 288-page book can give to Ocalan's philosophy, those of the Syrian Kurds, & of the surrounding actors. On an interesting side note, the audiobook is interestingly enough narrated by the author herself, & narrated well. A very short PDF file is provided with a map of the region & a guide to the main characters in the story: this is very helpful for learning about the name of the main characters & for learning about the geography of the relevant locations. Overall this is a great read the detailed well the journey of the three main casts & their oppressed people in the turmoil that is the Syrian Civil War. The weakest part is maybe the portions on the members of the U.S. Special Operation members, which whilst relevant, can maybe be better spent on further detailing the lives of the Syrians characters or including the story of other Syrians.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Book

    Listen to the full review at: https://bookclubbed.buzzsprout.com/ Gayle Lemmon details the efforts of the YPG--comprised of Kurdish women shirking their traditional roles and picking up guns to blast away some ISIS asshats—to secure some strip of land they can live peacefully on, fighting off waves of ISIS that no one else bothered resisting. This is the closest we can get to a “good vs evil” story in modern times, which we love as an audience. The trope can be simple and inspiring. We can’t have Listen to the full review at: https://bookclubbed.buzzsprout.com/ Gayle Lemmon details the efforts of the YPG--comprised of Kurdish women shirking their traditional roles and picking up guns to blast away some ISIS asshats—to secure some strip of land they can live peacefully on, fighting off waves of ISIS that no one else bothered resisting. This is the closest we can get to a “good vs evil” story in modern times, which we love as an audience. The trope can be simple and inspiring. We can’t have good vs. evil with American soldiers anymore because we all know what they have been complicit in, so it’s refreshing to have moral clarity still exists somewhere in the world. Unfortunately, we try to cover too much in 212 pages, including: the history of the Kurdish party, the many enemies they have, how they established themselves as a progressive group, the rise of ISIS, the backgrounds of these particular women, what inspired them, scattered battle scenes, and the negotiations and collaboration with the waffling US government. In short, a history book, when we are supposed to be reading creative nonfiction. Honestly, I just want to hear the stories of the female soldiers. Let them speak, Gayle. The author is clearly a journalist, not a writer. The prose is competent, but it doesn’t have the textured details, the little unimpeachable moments and scenes that transport us there. It’s a travelogue during a war. Really, they should have skipped the book release and made it straight into a movie, as that is undoubtedly what they are aiming for anyways.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joe Stack

    This book is about heroes. It is an eloquent, absorbing, and moving account of Kurdish women who are inspiring. You empathize with them because of the power of the author's writing which comes from her affection for the women she is covering. Ms. Lemmon's coverage of the street to street combat is full of tension and it's stirring. An example of this is the chapter on the Manbij campaign with the crossing of the Euphrates River. Readers may well remember the news coverage of the campaign against This book is about heroes. It is an eloquent, absorbing, and moving account of Kurdish women who are inspiring. You empathize with them because of the power of the author's writing which comes from her affection for the women she is covering. Ms. Lemmon's coverage of the street to street combat is full of tension and it's stirring. An example of this is the chapter on the Manbij campaign with the crossing of the Euphrates River. Readers may well remember the news coverage of the campaign against ISIS, particularly the retaking of Kobani and Raqqa. I did not realize how vital Kurdish women were in the war against ISIS, how many women were involved, and the leadership roles they had. They were at the heart of the war. This book corrects that knowledge vacuum. The author also clarifies the struggle that existed behind the scenes; that is, the wrangling involved over how to support the People's Protection Units because of complexities involved with Turkey and the various other combatant groups. One of the highlights of the book is in Chapter 8 where the author reports on the creation of the constitution for northern Syria which incorporated the rights and freedom of women. I thought this was a remarkable achievement. Quite appropriate for Women's History Month. As the author points out, it is ironic that the attempt by ISIS to create a caliphate that subjected women to extreme "housewifization" and worse resulted in Syrian Kurds creating a constitution and organizations that are the direct opposite of the Islamic State.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alesa

    When I first learned in the news that Kurdish women were instrumental in fighting ISIS in Syria, I couldn't believe it. How did women from such a patriarchal and traditional society find the courage to do this? Well, this book explains why a woman would be attracted to the life of a soldier, and rise to be a commander of large numbers of troops, both male and female -- and be instrumental in the defeat of ISIS. The book is very well-written, and documents in great detail the lives of several Syri When I first learned in the news that Kurdish women were instrumental in fighting ISIS in Syria, I couldn't believe it. How did women from such a patriarchal and traditional society find the courage to do this? Well, this book explains why a woman would be attracted to the life of a soldier, and rise to be a commander of large numbers of troops, both male and female -- and be instrumental in the defeat of ISIS. The book is very well-written, and documents in great detail the lives of several Syrian Kurds who left dead-end lives and became female heroes. The author spent time behind battle lines, and knows what she's talking about. Also, her father was Kurdish, and she therefore has an understandable compassion for her subjects. She also provides a great explanation of the political situation, especially the different factions fighting ISIS, and shows why the US and Turkey have had such baffling positions. She does not sugar-coat the situation, and is not all that supportive of Obama's or Trump's decisions. I will use this book as a reference in the future for trying to sort out the alphabet soup of Kurdish militant and political groups. I did not enjoy reading this book. It's a war book, filled with battles and strategy, explosions and anguish. This is not the type of thing I like to spend time with. However, I considered it important to learn about these amazing women, and knew that the book would be an essential part of my library on Kurds and women's rights in general.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Klassen

    I'm quite conflicted with this book. So The Daughters of Kobani is about the Kurdish fight against ISIS and how their military forces advanced women's rights both in previously ISIS-occupied territories (an organization known for kidnapping and rape) and in other areas where women's futures were largely decided by patriarchal systems. This is not an Own Voices book. The author is half-Iraqi but not ethnically Kurdish. I've seen mixed reviews from Kurds, some saying this is great and helps shed l I'm quite conflicted with this book. So The Daughters of Kobani is about the Kurdish fight against ISIS and how their military forces advanced women's rights both in previously ISIS-occupied territories (an organization known for kidnapping and rape) and in other areas where women's futures were largely decided by patriarchal systems. This is not an Own Voices book. The author is half-Iraqi but not ethnically Kurdish. I've seen mixed reviews from Kurds, some saying this is great and helps shed light on little heard stories or others who feel that this is profiting off Kurdish stories and pain. I can't speak on either side of this discussion as I'm not Kurdish but I'm removing my rating (previously 3.5 stars) until further notice. I did enjoy the human aspect of this study quite a bit. Tzemach Lemmon follows the lives of four women who turned their backs on traditional expectations and formed a female inclusive militia group that directly clashed multiple times with ISIS. Each of these women had fascinating stories that need to be told. I really enjoyed the portions that detailed their experiences and near-death encounters. I struggled to follow the political aspects of this novel and to immerse myself in the diplomatic discussions that are covered. If you like political writing, this may work for you but for me, it was dry and confusing to follow the many moving parts. All the stuff about American diplomats, peace talks, liaisons just didn't fit with this otherwise intimate portrait of four women in the heat of battles. content warning for: patriarchal restrictions on women, arranged marriage, violence, roadside bombings, injuries being described in detail, hospitalization, descriptions of ISIS crimes such as massacres, executions, systemic rape, forced marriage etc., potential for misrepresentation because not an Own Voices book and has caused concern from some Kurds.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hutchison

    I have been following the activities of the Kurds for many years. I support their efforts for self determination and a homeland of their own. I found the rise of the YPJ in Northern Syria an inspirational event. The story of women, young women, taking up arms to defend themselves, their people, culture, and territory, while insisting on equality for women. These women lived and died in battle. They are battlefield tested and also proved themselves in administering villages and towns throughout t I have been following the activities of the Kurds for many years. I support their efforts for self determination and a homeland of their own. I found the rise of the YPJ in Northern Syria an inspirational event. The story of women, young women, taking up arms to defend themselves, their people, culture, and territory, while insisting on equality for women. These women lived and died in battle. They are battlefield tested and also proved themselves in administering villages and towns throughout the region in a very democratic manner. Doing all this in a culture and area that have traditionally kept women corralled tightly and severely restricted with little decision power or choices. This is a story of women who fought a group of radical terrorists, (Isis) that shocked the world with their brutality and savagery. Women soldiers that knew what waited for them if they were captured and would chose to blow themselves up instead. Azeema, Rojda, Nowruzm characters in the book. Fighters, soldiers, leaders, in the YPJ, personalizes the experience for the readers. These YPJ fighters earning the respect of the YPG and American Special Forces, advanced into battle, with their counterparts, against the savage enemy that we all remember seeing on TV and won the battle.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shelby Thompson

    The Daughters of Kobani had SO MUCH POTENTIAL. The true story of an entire female-led force defending their freedoms from an advancing army dedicated to wiping their way of life out is an unbeatable premise. The real women of the YPJ are deserving of all the awe and international acclaim we can possibly give them. Unfortunately, I felt like in “Daughters of Kobani,” we spent far too little time with them. Lemmon does a great job analysing the wider conflict in Syria, and giving backstory on the The Daughters of Kobani had SO MUCH POTENTIAL. The true story of an entire female-led force defending their freedoms from an advancing army dedicated to wiping their way of life out is an unbeatable premise. The real women of the YPJ are deserving of all the awe and international acclaim we can possibly give them. Unfortunately, I felt like in “Daughters of Kobani,” we spent far too little time with them. Lemmon does a great job analysing the wider conflict in Syria, and giving backstory on the innumerable political and military factions jockeying for power. What I wanted more of was, honestly, emotion. I wanted to know more about what brought these young women to the militia, and how they and their fellow soldiers grappled with society’s constraints. How did the relationships between men and women within the YPJ/YPG reflect the ideals of equality - were there hurdles that had to be overcome? What did these women hope to do after the war? Lemmon deftly intertwines the self-governance of the Kurds and the autonomy of women in this book, and it’s a fascinating paradigm to watch play out. I just wish we got hear more from the women themselves.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Groves

    This book was a real eye opener. It tells the story of young women who were battling ISIS in Syria in 2014. This all-female Kurdish militia was instrumental in several key victories and was a partner to the United States in this fight, since the US did not have troops on the ground. Many of these women wanted not only to defeat ISIS because of its worldview and violent tactics but because they wanted more equality and representation of women in their society, as well as better treatment of the K This book was a real eye opener. It tells the story of young women who were battling ISIS in Syria in 2014. This all-female Kurdish militia was instrumental in several key victories and was a partner to the United States in this fight, since the US did not have troops on the ground. Many of these women wanted not only to defeat ISIS because of its worldview and violent tactics but because they wanted more equality and representation of women in their society, as well as better treatment of the Kurdish people. The book leaves absolutely no doubt that they were brave, heroic, and determined warriors. Despite some of the victories they achieved, the militia was unavoidably subject to the actions of other, bigger players in international relations, including the United States, and in some ways what was achieved was subsequently undermined. Still, the author, and the women leaders she chose to profile, leave the impression that the way in which these women defied tradition and custom and put their lives on the line has changed at least a few minds about the roles of women and the respect that should be accorded to them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Anjie

    Like too many Americans I did not give the ongoing conflict in Syria the mental space it deserved, and there were many instances when I should have over the past decade. The details were always murky to me. Thankfully "the Daughters of Kobani" bring clarity to an important segment of the fighting, this one led by brave, wise and compassionate women. It also helps makes sense of the Syrian factions, Turkey's influence, and ISIS's grip on the region. I'm glad these women warriors are getting recog Like too many Americans I did not give the ongoing conflict in Syria the mental space it deserved, and there were many instances when I should have over the past decade. The details were always murky to me. Thankfully "the Daughters of Kobani" bring clarity to an important segment of the fighting, this one led by brave, wise and compassionate women. It also helps makes sense of the Syrian factions, Turkey's influence, and ISIS's grip on the region. I'm glad these women warriors are getting recognition, not just for their fighting and strategic skills, but for their commitment to women's liberation (quite literally liberation in many cases, like when they came upon women held captive as sex slaves by ISIS fighters). The book is a mix of personal stakes, battle plans, sacrifice, geopolitical diplomacy, and hope. A great read any time, but especially for Women's History Month. The young women profiled in this book have been making history (often away from headlines), for years under circumstances most of us could never imagine.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gerry

    Lemmon spent years interviewing and reporting on this incredible group of women who led the Syrian Kurds' battle against ISIS, inspired by their determination to eliminate this group that denigrated and brutalized women. These women battled house by house and street by street to liberate the town of Kobani (the site of their first victory and ISIS' first defeat in Syria) and other towns and later, with limited American support and in an alliance with other Syrian Democratic Forces, extended thei Lemmon spent years interviewing and reporting on this incredible group of women who led the Syrian Kurds' battle against ISIS, inspired by their determination to eliminate this group that denigrated and brutalized women. These women battled house by house and street by street to liberate the town of Kobani (the site of their first victory and ISIS' first defeat in Syria) and other towns and later, with limited American support and in an alliance with other Syrian Democratic Forces, extended their territorial hold and destroyed the geographical embodiment of the Islamic Caliphate in Raqqa. Equally important to these woman as destroying ISIS was their goal of autonomy and full equality for women, a goal that has yet to be fully achieved, but one toward which their modeling of female leadership and accomplishments has made both more viable and more appealing to the larger female population of Syria.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shahin Keusch

    This was a really good read which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the middle east. This is not only a good history of the Syrian crisis and the war against Isis. But it is a good introduction to some of the major kurdish issues and the struggle of kurdish women to achieve independence and women's rights. This book had a very personal note as it followed the lives a few kurdish soldiers during the battles against Isis.  This book is very current and really does not have an ending, This was a really good read which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the middle east. This is not only a good history of the Syrian crisis and the war against Isis. But it is a good introduction to some of the major kurdish issues and the struggle of kurdish women to achieve independence and women's rights. This book had a very personal note as it followed the lives a few kurdish soldiers during the battles against Isis.  This book is very current and really does not have an ending, as these brave men and women are still fighting. Isis may be gone, but there are other forces out there that see the Kurds of North eastern Syria as a great threat.  I've read a few books on the kurdish people and find this experiment of communal democracy very interesting. This book gave a very small introduction into this project and would recommend anyways one to read about it.  If you don't know anything about the Kurds this is a good book to get an introduction. 

  25. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    The women whose stories fill this book are amazing and badass and more than deserving of having their stories on record and in the annals of history. I commend Gayle Tzemach Lemmon for wanting to bring these stories to light. However, I couldn't help but feel throughout this book that I wanted less of her pov and more of the story from the perspective of the women themselves. I wanted a deeper dive into their lives and thoughts and motivations - what made Azeema, a soldier and leader twice wound The women whose stories fill this book are amazing and badass and more than deserving of having their stories on record and in the annals of history. I commend Gayle Tzemach Lemmon for wanting to bring these stories to light. However, I couldn't help but feel throughout this book that I wanted less of her pov and more of the story from the perspective of the women themselves. I wanted a deeper dive into their lives and thoughts and motivations - what made Azeema, a soldier and leader twice wounded in battle, defy the life she was meant to lead beyond the love of country and people? The question, I felt, was only answered at a surface level because the women's voices were not put front and center throughout. In many ways, I think this would have worked better as serialised magazine piece than a book. I want these stories, but deeper and from own voices.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lee Woodruff

    Syria is one of the least likely places to find a revolution centered on women’s rights. Journalist and author, Lemmon, spent hundreds of hours reporting on the incredible group of all-female militia who took on ISIS armed with AK-47’s on the frontlines alongside the US. In the telling, the courage, grit and dreams of these women come to life in an intricate and heart-warming story of a band of sisters who were told they couldn’t go to school, play soccer or marry whom they wanted. In response, Syria is one of the least likely places to find a revolution centered on women’s rights. Journalist and author, Lemmon, spent hundreds of hours reporting on the incredible group of all-female militia who took on ISIS armed with AK-47’s on the frontlines alongside the US. In the telling, the courage, grit and dreams of these women come to life in an intricate and heart-warming story of a band of sisters who were told they couldn’t go to school, play soccer or marry whom they wanted. In response, they became an elite fighting squad, battling (and winning) against the forces of evil in their region who were blocking their rights and trafficking in women and girls. No surprise, as in her previous book “Ashley’s War,” the movie rights for this story have already been snapped up.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dolores

    I "read"(audible) this book in less that 1 day. I saw the author on a Cable news station and was intrigued. The bravery and tenacity of these women (and men) that fought against ISIS was inspiring. The fact that they fought against their families beliefs on how they as women should live-not letting them continue education or let them marry who or when they want. These brave and fearless women fought for their cities and earned the respect of the men that they were fighting with. They became mili I "read"(audible) this book in less that 1 day. I saw the author on a Cable news station and was intrigued. The bravery and tenacity of these women (and men) that fought against ISIS was inspiring. The fact that they fought against their families beliefs on how they as women should live-not letting them continue education or let them marry who or when they want. These brave and fearless women fought for their cities and earned the respect of the men that they were fighting with. They became military leaders and inspired others around them. They fought for their families and their countrymen. They fought for young children to chose their way in their futures. I salute these Brave, Beautiful, Strong Women.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This is the first book I have read capturing the stories of YPJ fighters and warriors; I am familiar with the ISIS/ISIL conflict from a distant perspective. This book captures the stories of female Kurdish fighters and warriors against ISIS/ISIL fighters, including accounts of the defense of Kobani from ISIS siege. When I have a daughter, I want her to know and read this history. Additionally, Gayle Lemmon provides political context of US, Syria, Russia and Turkey and the effects on the YPJ warri This is the first book I have read capturing the stories of YPJ fighters and warriors; I am familiar with the ISIS/ISIL conflict from a distant perspective. This book captures the stories of female Kurdish fighters and warriors against ISIS/ISIL fighters, including accounts of the defense of Kobani from ISIS siege. When I have a daughter, I want her to know and read this history. Additionally, Gayle Lemmon provides political context of US, Syria, Russia and Turkey and the effects on the YPJ warrior's defense against ISIS and US support; she also covers YPJ counter-attacks, within what I think I read was the SDF construct, to reclaim ISIS held territory. I read this book at Barnes and Nobles because I had to read it; so I spend a day there to read it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    MehoKnicks ,

    Unfortunately in the US we haven't really been shown the brutality of ISIS and the devastation left in Syria in the recent years. These women of Kobani have a mission, to not only save the women and families in Syria from ISIS, but also to fight to provide a better life, an equal life with equal rights for women and future generations from the ISIS savages. They no only earned the respect of America's military who fought along side them, but handed ISIS their first defeat of the war in their cit Unfortunately in the US we haven't really been shown the brutality of ISIS and the devastation left in Syria in the recent years. These women of Kobani have a mission, to not only save the women and families in Syria from ISIS, but also to fight to provide a better life, an equal life with equal rights for women and future generations from the ISIS savages. They no only earned the respect of America's military who fought along side them, but handed ISIS their first defeat of the war in their city of Kobani. The author has painted a beautiful and accurate picture of these women's lives and why they felt they needed to "save" their city and Syria from ISIS. Fabulously written and such an enlightening story. A must read for everyone. It is a beautiful and fascinating story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tracie Gutknecht

    Non-fiction I am going to preface my review by saying that this isn't the kind of book that I normally read. I like non-fiction and was intrigued by the title, but was concerned about the geo-political aspects of this book. If the author would have stayed on the story of the women, this book would have been a home run. She spends most of the book detailing the rise of the different groups, so much so that they all blend together as they have several names and use initials as signifiers. We get a l Non-fiction I am going to preface my review by saying that this isn't the kind of book that I normally read. I like non-fiction and was intrigued by the title, but was concerned about the geo-political aspects of this book. If the author would have stayed on the story of the women, this book would have been a home run. She spends most of the book detailing the rise of the different groups, so much so that they all blend together as they have several names and use initials as signifiers. We get a lot of the history of the Kurdish fight, some of which was needed, but it bogged down the story. Ultimately, other than learning that these are amazing women, I don't know much about them.

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