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Guest House for Young Widows

Among the Women of ISIS
Narrated by: Sarah Agha
Length: 13 hrs and 57 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Politics
4.5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2019 Azadeh Moaveni (P)2019 Random House Audio

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Excellent

Exceptional book. Very interesting and informative. Well researched by the Author, being a journalist I would expect. Really does give a proper nuanced insight into the reasons of which are not easily defined. Highly recommend. Very sad and also an indictment of Western Governments complete lack of understanding of the whole issue. Lot's I could say,however I would say read it and I hope it will challenge people's misconceptions. Narrator was excellent too.

2 people found this helpful

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Educational, moving book with superb narration

Illuminating and stirring accounts woven together with a fascinating background history of the Middle Eastern. Moving narration and great clarity of voice from the reader. Brilliant.

1 person found this helpful

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Amazing

A thoroughly engaging book which was narrated excellently throughout. I would absolutely recommend listening to this.

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Gripping story with brilliant narration

Compelling book, extensively researched and deeply enlightening on such a sensitive topic. Flawless narration, crystal clear diction and poignant in all the right places.

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Explanation of the Inexplicable

A useful, clear analysis of (some) the reasons why.

I read a review which was very scathing about the narration and I was almost put off buying but there's nothing much wrong with it, if anything it's a little monotone.

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The narration is just awful

Fantastic book. Just what we need in this time of confusion and mistrust but I can not stand the narrator! Constant pauses and questions marks when not needed!!!! Better just to read the book if you can

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Guest House for Young Women

The narrator is awful. Staccato and pause
s inappropriately so that both listening and comprehending is affected- and not for the better. She has good pronunciation of Muslim etc words but that is the only positive thing I can say.

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  • Jacques Roberge
  • 04-12-19

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

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

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  • Kara
  • 04-11-19

wow!

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

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lisbeth
  • 25-09-19

Enlightening

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