Regular price: $24.47

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

Two Pulitzer Prize winners expose the most pervasive human-rights violation of our era - the oppression of women in the developing world - and tell us what we can do about it.

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    731
  • 4 Stars
    243
  • 3 Stars
    76
  • 2 Stars
    19
  • 1 Stars
    16

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    520
  • 4 Stars
    190
  • 3 Stars
    57
  • 2 Stars
    14
  • 1 Stars
    12

Story

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    572
  • 4 Stars
    149
  • 3 Stars
    48
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    8
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Excellent presentation of heart-rending situation

What made the experience of listening to Half the Sky the most enjoyable?

The speakers were also the authors, which gave credence to this travesty. I was so moved that I've recommended it to my book group and support some of the assistance organizations indexed. The narration is honest.

Any additional comments?

A must-read for anyone concerned with the plight of women and social-justice issues--will really open your eyes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Must-read!

If any book will ever motivate you to care about larger global human rights issues and living conditions, this one will! The problems the authors describe are horrendous, yet they manage to bring a message of hope and success, and offer suggestions on what can be done to help.
I didn't agree with their overly politically correct attitude towards the role of culture and religion in contributing to third-world problems, but they certainly have a wealth of experience to bring to the discussion.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A book everyone should read

Where does Half the Sky rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Among the most important

What did you like best about this story?

It exposes the shocking plight of millions of women in the world, AND it informs us of concrete ways to help. It is devastating in the horrors it reveals, and uplifting in the hope it evokes.

I was very reluctant to give to charities because I distrust organizations (why give anything if most of it goes to administrators or gets dissipated if not worse?), but this book directed me toward alternatives where such fears are circumvented.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

In an age of increasing strife, corruption, fanaticism and selfishness, helping women everywhere to take their proper place in the world may well be our best way to survive.It should be noted that cultures than produce the worst violence and fanaticism are those in which women are the most oppressed. A deep reason underlies this: women are the ones that bring up children, and women suffering from oppression transmit this unconsciously to small boys who become deeply conflicted and frustrated men drawn to violence, oppression and fanaticism.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Emotionally informative!

It’s hard to escape the escalating decline in world conditions. Whether it’s refugees’ stories from far flung war-torn countries, or reports involving the abuse of our environment and its critters, there is no limit to the different forms of media that are reporting global events non-stop. Even if the view outside our kitchen window is generally uneventful and peaceful, books like Half the Sky are a cold slice of reality pie.

Half the Sky focuses on human rights violations against women around the world, but mostly in Africa and Asia. Divided into areas of concern such as sex trafficking, systematic rape, maternal mortality, and illiteracy, Kristof incorporates statistics with personal life stories. Many of them were hard to listen to, and at one point I found myself stuck in rush hour traffic sobbing into my sweater sleeves. As “advanced” as mankind is, why are things like this still going on today? Why are these things generally unknown, although they’re not taking place in secret? I enjoy documentaries and books like these because they make me more aware of what is going on around the world. If all I believed was based on what I saw on the news, I’d be one short sighted individual.

Pee-Wee Herman summed me up when he said: “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.” I mention him because my only complaint about this book, call me a pragmatic idealist if you want, was that I don’t like being told what to feel. A compelling life story was almost always followed by a proposed plan of action that equated the group of women to monetary assets. Everything was reduced to dollars and cents. I get it, people higher up won’t focus on these women’s issues if it’s not profitable, but isn’t that the sad part to begin with? What’s a life worth? No matter how much is donated to certain causes, or how many laws are passed, it ultimately can’t change the way people think or feel, let alone how they treat others. I guess I would have prefered the journalistic touch without the agenda. Just my musings, at any rate. Highly recommended if you’re interested in current events in regards to the oppression of women, and what is being done to bridge these injustices.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I need six stars...

This book should be required reading in every high school in the United States. If every young person could read, understand and appreciate this book our world might be a better place. At the very least we would appreciate how lucky we are. I love the fact that there is some balance between the horrible oppression reported and the success of those who have managed to overcome their circumstances --- there is some hope. This is one of those books where you have to stop listening long enough to google the people, organizations, and events mentioned because you want to know more than the book provides.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Madge
  • Sterling, VA, United States
  • 03-10-14

Chilling but preachy

This book is chilling in its presentation of the callousness in most of the third world toward women and by extension their children. These authors tell individual stories, apparently personally gathered, of women who have been caught up in sex trafficking, , maternal neglect, rape as an instrument of war, and the acceptance of domestic violence and violence as control of women. They weave these horrific stories with statistics and success stories - and a persistent drumbeat on how education can help to empower these women.
Unfortunately, they becomes repetitive in her insistence that everyone needs to spend a few months in the third world living with these problems, and at the same time, she derides the aid workers who flood in, live like kings, and do very little good because of lack of understanding of the local milieu. The end thus becomes much less interesting.
The reader however, does an excellent job, and I listened to her with pleasure.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Dana
  • Simi Valley, CA, United States
  • 07-08-13

This book should be a universal required read!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

At first , I wanted to put it down , as just another sad story. I continued anyways and it was not long before the inspiration revealed itself.
Knowing there is progress, and a list of ways to help make a difference, makes this book unique and deems it worthy of passing on to any and all who will listen.
I'm insisting my daughter read it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • JAMES
  • Kansas City, MO, United States
  • 05-31-13

Fantastic

Would you consider the audio edition of Half the Sky to be better than the print version?

I did not read the print version.

Who was your favorite character and why?

too many to mention

Which scene was your favorite?

statistics blew me away.

If you could give Half the Sky a new subtitle, what would it be?

Think you have problems? You dont.

Any additional comments?

I was glad I found so many disparaging reviews about the presentor speaking monotone. Though it almost kept me from getting the book. I listed to the preview and got a glimpse of what I would hear and I was prepared. But actually, I DID NOT find her monotone AT ALL!!! On the other hand, maybe it was because I EXPECTED her to be so.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Brandin
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 03-18-14

BOOK: 5 Stars NARRATOR: 2 Stars

You should TOTALLY still buy this audiobook - the narrator isn't unlistenable....she's just not at all the kind of narrator this (or any) book needs.

Her voice is a bit nasal.
She sounds like an elitist asshole.
She sounds super super "white"
I'm caucasian...but i just hate that snooty white lady voice.
Ok, i've ranted enough about the narrator.

This book is incredible. It's brutal, but still inspires you. Best thing I've listened to since "Behind the Beautiful Forevers"

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

fabulous look into women's rights

It didn't always have the easiest flow but that didn't matter. the stories were moving and give the reader a real look into women's rights in other countries. truly makes you want to go out and save the world.