A 60-year-old rural Ethiopian villager seeking a second wife purchases 13-year-old Mahabouba for $10. Seven months pregnant by age 14, she flees savage whippings at home, running away to give birth alone. Labor lasts seven days. Mahabouba loses her baby, her pelvis rots; she can't control her bowels or bladder; she can't even walk or stand. Hyenas circle, lured by her blood. Then, Mahabouba, who is profoundly brave, crawls to a missionary one town over, inching forward on her arms. She lands at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and recovers there, at "puddle city", as the devoted, progressive staff fondly jokes, since patients drip urine all day long (floors are mopped many times hourly).
Pulitzer Prize-winning husband and wife journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn root out the barbaric injustices brutalizing Mahaboubas all across developing nations in Half the Sky, a magnificent, roaring abolitionists' plea to shoulder the burden of female oppression by empowering our fellow humankind. "This is a story of transformation," they urge.
Wife abuse; fistulas; sex slavery; honor killings; female genital mutilation (vaginal openings are sewn up with a wild thistle); illiteracy; sex-selective abortion; starvation; AIDS; and the epidemic of rape are among the hard, heavy contents of this book. Yet Half the Sky, as navigated by Kristof and WuDunn, transcends its narrative of despair with vivid, descriptive language and by balancing meticulous gumshoe reporting with intimate profiles in gender inequality. "What You Can Do" is the book's uplifting final chapter, ticking off immediate ways for listeners to connect with women in need.
Cassandra Campbell whose low pitch and measured pacing lend dignity to the mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters whose horrors she's voicing masterfully narrates Half the Sky. Campbell is a journalistic narrator, too much a pro to nuance her reading with shock or hysterical outrage. This restraint is most appreciated during exceptionally anguished confidences, as when Zoya Najabi of Kabul reveals her mother-in-law once shredded the soles of her feet with a stick "until they were like yogurt". Nita Rao
An old Chinese proverb says, "Women hold up half the sky." Then why do the women of Africa and Asia persistently suffer human rights abuses?
Continuing their focus on humanitarian issues, journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn take us to Africa and Asia, where many women live in profoundly dire circumstances....and some succeed against all odds.
A Cambodian teenager is sold into sex slavery; a formerly illiterate woman becomes a surgeon in Addis Ababa. An Ethiopian woman is left for dead after a difficult birth; a gang rape victim galvanizes the international community and creates schools in Pakistan. An Afghan wife is beaten by her husband and mother-in-law; a former Peace Corps volunteer founds an organization that educates and campaigns for women's rights in Senegal.
Through their powerful true stories, the authors show that the key to progress lies in unleashing women's potential, that change is possible, and that each of us can play a role in making it happen.
©2009 Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn; (P)2009 HighBridge Company
"If you have always wondered whether you can change the world, read this book. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn have written a brilliant call to arms that describes one of the transcendent injustices in the world today." (Fareed Zakaria, author, The Post-American World)
Excellent and inspiring. Although I was quite informed on many issues addressed, the writers did a wonderful job of wrapping them around humanity and education. I also thoroughly enjoyed the narrator.
The subject matter is very heavy, so getting through it was a bit of a struggle. One can only hear the word raped and beaten so many times in one sitting. The stories were compelling though and it gave examples of oppression from all over the world. It was extremely repetitive.
The narrator was extremely robotic and there weren't pauses in between different stories or paragraphs. It all just blended too quickly. The chapters displayed on the screen did not match up with the narrator which was extremely frustrating as this was needed for a class. I had to write down the times of when the chapters changed to go back to them later.
the narrator was excellent. the stories were moving and well organized. my only concern is that it appears the authors perceive there are no domestic issues focused around women that compare to the global issues highlighted. in many cases, that is probably true, but suffering is suffering. and there is clearly suffering in western countries. I'd be curious to read a comparable study of domestic issues and practical intervention.
These authors did a fabulous job with research and delivery. This book is well worth listening to. it was laced with inspiring stories of struggles and victories while at the same time it was factual
To say that this book is life-changing may seem overstated but I don't think so. What is revealed here is so eye-opening. Based on real life experiences and carefully researched facts and statistics, I have gained a new perspective on the world.
At times it was heart wrenching and unbelievable to learn what girls and women in the world endure every day of their lives.
But even if deeply disturbing, the book was full of beautiful redemptive stories of hope.
The simple and practical suggestions at the end of the book are a perfect conclusion.
Read it only if you are ready to have your heart changed.
A very important world problem which was poorly written. Too much republican bashing (i am not one), too much of an information commercial. Some charities talked about send very little money where it is supposed to go.
A little left-leaning and very curious
I am so glad I "read" this book. I very much appreciated the thorough information and the frank discussion of some very hard topics. I sincerely wish women everywhere, and the men who love them, would read this book. We will only progress as far as we support all members of our society equally.
This book is way up there among the best books I've ever listened to - or read! Easily 5 stars. 10, if that option existed.
The most compelling part of the narrative was the overall picture for women worldwide. SO glad someone finally started talking about it.
The surprising reality of women's fate worldwide
Should be required reading for anyone who IS a woman or who cares about women!
This book takes a hard look at the issues that women face throughout the world. This book is incredible, eye opening, and change making. I recommend it to anyone who is or knows a women.
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