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A Woman Among Warlords: The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice

By Malalai Joya

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Malalai Joya was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2010. An extraordinary young woman raised in the refugee camps of Iran and Pakistan, Joya became a teacher in secret girls' schools, hiding her books under her burqa so the Taliban couldn't find them; she helped establish a free medical clinic and orphanage in her impoverished home province of Farah; and at a constitutional assembly in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2003, she stood up and denounced her country's powerful NATO-backed warlords. She was twenty-five years old. Two years later, she became the youngest person elected to Afghanistan's new Parliament. In 2007, she was suspended from Parliament for her persistent criticism of the warlords and drug barons and their cronies. She has survived four assassination attempts to date, is accompanied at all times by armed guards, and sleeps only in safe houses.

Joya takes us inside this massively important and insufficiently understood country, shows us the desperate day-to-day situations its remarkable people face at every turn, and recounts some of the many acts of rebellion that are helping to change it. A controversial political figure in one of the most dangerous places on earth, Malalai Joya is a hero for our times.

Editorial Reviews

Afghan activist Joya makes an urgent plea for the world to acknowledge the truths hidden in the corrupt, complex country of Afghanistan.The author was born in 1978, less than a year before the Soviet invasion of her country. She grew up one of thousands of refugees in Iran and Pakistan, where she was lucky enough to receive an education thanks to her democratic-minded father. When the Soviet occupation ended, Afghanistan was left with well-armed fundamentalist warlords who pressed the country into civil war. After the regime of the warlords fell to the Taliban, Joya returned to her country for the first time in more than 15 years to teach at an underground school for girls. After 9/11, the extremist warlords again rose to power, backed with support and funding from the United States and its NATO allies in the push to oust the Taliban. Joya, who states emphatically that the Afghan people view the warlords as no better than the Taliban, made international headlines when she denounced them as criminals at a constitutional assembly in Kabul in 2003. Gaining an army of supporters and enemies simultaneously, Joya became the youngest-ever member of Afghan parliament, where she was threatened and attacked for her attempts to expose its corrupt nature before being suspended from her seat. After surviving multiple assassination attempts, she continues to spread her message of human rights, women's rights, democracy and secularism. The author's brave narrative uses her personal experiences to outline the oppressive misrule of the past three decades in Afghanistan, and Joya is careful to differentiate between her country's corrupt government and its freedom-wanting people.A chilling, vital memoir that reveals hidden truths about Afghanistan and directly addresses the misguided policies of the United States. Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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