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The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq

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Since 2014, Daesh (ISIS) has been brutalizing the Yazidi people of northern Iraq: sowing destruction, killing those who won’t convert to Islam, and enslaving young girls and women. The Beekeeper, by the acclaimed poet and journalist Dunya Mikhail, tells the harrowing stories of several women who managed to escape the clutches of Daesh. Mikhail extensively interviews these Since 2014, Daesh (ISIS) has been brutalizing the Yazidi people of northern Iraq: sowing destruction, killing those who won’t convert to Islam, and enslaving young girls and women. The Beekeeper, by the acclaimed poet and journalist Dunya Mikhail, tells the harrowing stories of several women who managed to escape the clutches of Daesh. Mikhail extensively interviews these women—who’ve lost their families and loved ones, who’ve been sexually abused, psychologically tortured, and forced to manufacture chemical weapons—and as their tales unfold, an unlikely hero emerges: a beekeeper, who uses his knowledge of the local terrain, along with a wide network of transporters, helpers, and former cigarette smugglers, to bring these women, one by one, through the war-torn landscapes of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, back into safety. In the face of inhuman suffering, this powerful work of nonfiction offers a counterpoint to Daesh’s genocidal extremism: hope, as ordinary people risk their own lives to save those of others. 


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Since 2014, Daesh (ISIS) has been brutalizing the Yazidi people of northern Iraq: sowing destruction, killing those who won’t convert to Islam, and enslaving young girls and women. The Beekeeper, by the acclaimed poet and journalist Dunya Mikhail, tells the harrowing stories of several women who managed to escape the clutches of Daesh. Mikhail extensively interviews these Since 2014, Daesh (ISIS) has been brutalizing the Yazidi people of northern Iraq: sowing destruction, killing those who won’t convert to Islam, and enslaving young girls and women. The Beekeeper, by the acclaimed poet and journalist Dunya Mikhail, tells the harrowing stories of several women who managed to escape the clutches of Daesh. Mikhail extensively interviews these women—who’ve lost their families and loved ones, who’ve been sexually abused, psychologically tortured, and forced to manufacture chemical weapons—and as their tales unfold, an unlikely hero emerges: a beekeeper, who uses his knowledge of the local terrain, along with a wide network of transporters, helpers, and former cigarette smugglers, to bring these women, one by one, through the war-torn landscapes of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, back into safety. In the face of inhuman suffering, this powerful work of nonfiction offers a counterpoint to Daesh’s genocidal extremism: hope, as ordinary people risk their own lives to save those of others. 

30 review for The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq

  1. 4 out of 5

    abby

    What happened to the Yazidi is the most important story you've never heard. Abdullah once kept bees as a hobby. But, like many Yazidi, he was driven out of his home in northern Iraq when Isis took over the region. In his new life as a refugee, he developed a new passion: saving the Yazidi women from the clutches of Isis. This book is his story and the stories of the women he saved. Reading this was like reading a Holocaust memoir. When Isis came to town, they would gather up all the Yazidi and What happened to the Yazidi is the most important story you've never heard. Abdullah once kept bees as a hobby. But, like many Yazidi, he was driven out of his home in northern Iraq when Isis took over the region. In his new life as a refugee, he developed a new passion: saving the Yazidi women from the clutches of Isis. This book is his story and the stories of the women he saved. Reading this was like reading a Holocaust memoir. When Isis came to town, they would gather up all the Yazidi and separate the men from the women. The elders were thrown into a lake and soil dumped on top of them to make sure they would drown. Any grandchildren who wouldn't let go of them were thrown in as well. Then military aged men were gathered, lined up in a pit and executed. The women were sold to Isis fighters to become their "wives." Children were trained to become the next generation of jihadi. The women were raped and passed around like trinkets. Abdullah, using a network of smugglers and often paying ransoms out of his own pocket, has been able to sneak dozens of young women away from their Isis captors and over the Turkish border. It's a harrowing tale of survival and-- even in the face of Isis-- humanity. I'll never forget the impoverished Muslim couple who let an escaped Yazidi sex slave find refuge in their home, even after Isis demanded thousands of dollars in ransom; they had nothing, but found the money to ensure this girl's safety. What I didn't like about this book is the author. She's a poet, and not a very good one, and the story lost momentum anytime she tried to interject her own writing or perspective into the mix. In addition, she did not introduce the Yazidi, explain who they are or anything about them. I had to look this information up online afterward. This book needed a different author. 5 stars for the stories of the Yazidi women captured by Isis. 2 stars for the writing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anita Pomerantz

    I have mixed feelings about this book. It essentially is a series of transcribed interviews with a wonderful person who rescues (mostly Yazidi) women kidnapped by Daesh. The man is a true hero, and I love that his story is being told. He risks a lot to save women who have undergone the most horrific atrocities. The book also relates the stories of these women, and all I could think of was how much it reminded me of the Holocaust. Honestly, these first person accounts truly raise awareness of the I have mixed feelings about this book. It essentially is a series of transcribed interviews with a wonderful person who rescues (mostly Yazidi) women kidnapped by Daesh. The man is a true hero, and I love that his story is being told. He risks a lot to save women who have undergone the most horrific atrocities. The book also relates the stories of these women, and all I could think of was how much it reminded me of the Holocaust. Honestly, these first person accounts truly raise awareness of the plights of people in the face of pure evil. From that standpoint, this book should be read. But there was something about how it was written that just left me cold. The stories weren't written into a narrative that really gave us much insight into the man doing the rescuing. Meanwhile, the author did have points where she talked about herself and her return to Iraq, but those elements didn't really add anything to the book. The atrocities were so many and so similar that it began to feel like the same awful tale over and over; yet somehow the victims didn't come to life for me and neither did any other elements (history, religion, politics - - the drivers behind the evil). All in all, I feel it is important to bear witness to the atrocities and to let the world know about them. This book does so, and the first few stories brought tears to my eyes. For that alone, I would recommend it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Dunya Mikhail is an Iraqi-Assyrian poet who is now based in the United States but was born in Iraq and graduated with a BA from the University of Baghdad some years later. She has worked as a journalist and a translator for "The Baghdad Observer", a prominent Iraqi newspaper before being questioned by Saddam Hussein's government and facing increasing threats and harassment from the Iraqi authorities for her writings. As a result of this, and to be able to carry-on enjoying her chosen profession, Dunya Mikhail is an Iraqi-Assyrian poet who is now based in the United States but was born in Iraq and graduated with a BA from the University of Baghdad some years later. She has worked as a journalist and a translator for "The Baghdad Observer", a prominent Iraqi newspaper before being questioned by Saddam Hussein's government and facing increasing threats and harassment from the Iraqi authorities for her writings. As a result of this, and to be able to carry-on enjoying her chosen profession, she fled Iraq via Jordan, eventually settling in America. Mikhail both speaks and writes in Arabic, Assyrian and English. Most of her previous work is classified as poetry including "The War Works Hard" which won PEN's Trnslation Fund Award, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and was named one of the best books of 2005 by the New York Public Library. In 2001, she was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. Wow, and I really mean wow! This is a powerful book. Although the topic is upsetting and opens your eyes up to the cruelty in our world, it was a story that needed to be told and I am so appreciative that Mikhail was the one who chose to do this. Her writing is exquisite. Maybe the most exquisite I have ever come across. If you can read this and keep from becoming an emotional wreck, you are very skilled (or maybe just cold). We are all familiar with the ghastly images and stories of the horrendous things going on in wartorn Syria and most of us probably believe that pictures get the message across better than any other method of communication. That is not the case here, this book not only completely overpowers the television accounts but tells the stories of these women, men, and children in a compassionate and detailed way. The plight of the Yazidi people makes for uncomfortable but neccessary reading. I feel everyone should be acquiring a copy as the message of hope rather than hopelessness is such an important one. Even if the odds seemed stacked against them these people had hope that endured many lifetimes of heartache and pain. Abdullah, The eponymous beekeeper, used his knowledge of the local terrain in order to smuggle Yazidi women to safety, keeping hope alive for those still missing as well as their relatives. This book goes some way to highlighting what they went through but I don't believe we could truly know or even begin to understand the true unimaginable horror of their experiences. I am positive that this was as difficult to write as it was for us to read, especially with the authors proximity to the people and the location. As I have made an effort to delve deeper into poetry in the past few years, now that I know the beauty with which Mikhail writes I will be swiftly purchasing and reading "The War Works Hard" as an opening into her wider work and will go from there. Many thanks to Serpent's Tail for an ARC. I was not required to post a review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paula Bardell-Hedley

    “In action movies, fires are started, walls crumble down all at once, planets shake, birds fly off the trees. But we weren't in a movie when we saw all that happen. This was our reality.” The Beekeeper of Sinjar is the true story of Abdullah Sharem, an Iraqi beekeeper who saved the lives of Yazidi women sold into slavery by the Muslim fundamentalists known as Daesh, or Islamic State. Sinjar is a town in the Nineveh Province of Iraq, close to Mount Shingal. In the west, we were mostly ignorant “In action movies, fires are started, walls crumble down all at once, planets shake, birds fly off the trees. But we weren't in a movie when we saw all that happen. This was our reality.” The Beekeeper of Sinjar is the true story of Abdullah Sharem, an Iraqi beekeeper who saved the lives of Yazidi women sold into slavery by the Muslim fundamentalists known as Daesh, or Islamic State. Sinjar is a town in the Nineveh Province of Iraq, close to Mount Shingal. In the west, we were mostly ignorant of the region until it emerged al-Qaeda had caused several explosions there in 2007, killing hundreds of Yazidis (its endogamous, Kurdish-speaking population, whose religion is Yazidism – a combination of several monotheistic beliefs). Seven years later, Daesh (sometimes known as ISIL or ISIS) seized the township and coldly slaughtered 3,000 elderly and male Yazidis, dumping their bodies in mass graves, then forced the women to become sex slaves. This led to the mass exodus of a people who had inhabited the area for thousands of years. Dunya Mikhail, a celebrated Iraqi-Assyrian poet and journalist from Baghdad, who was forced to flee her homeland during the rule of Saddam Hussein (she now lives and teaches in the USA), has gathered in her book an extraordinary collection of first-person narratives directly from those who survived these horrendous ordeals, and also from their rescuers. Mikhail begins by thanking the “women who escaped the clutches of Daesh […] for their willingness to speak about the details of their suffering, despite the fact that deep wounds don't speak, they can only be felt.” She had been fortunate to befriend Abdullah, the apiarist who had traded in honey until Daesh seized his relatives, after which he devoted his every waking moment to finding them. As a consequence, others turned to him for assistance in seeking their missing family members. Because of his many business relationships and detailed knowledge of the roads, he rapidly developed a wide network of contacts willing to risk their lives helping him. He succeeded in rescuing many women against all the odds from their brutal captors. “I used to have a huge garden in Sinjar where I would tend to the beehives for hours on end,” he tells Mikhail. “The movements of the queen bee […], her superior flying abilities compared to the males amazed me, made me profoundly appreciate all the women in my life.” After comparing humankind with his colony of bees, he goes on to say: “In our society women work and sacrifice for others without getting what they deserve. Women are oppressed even outside the world of Daesh, which has nothing whatsoever to do with rational […] life.” Abdullah is a profoundly humane and likeable character, and without him Mikhail could not have written this book. He put her directly in touch with many brutalized victims, some of whom spoke to her personally of their remarkable escapes from these violent, frequently drugged fighters with their twisted ideologies. The Beekeeper of Sinjar isn't an easy read but it is often moving and inspirational. It is also vital, I feel, that we as readers bear witness to atrocities of this sort in order to prevent them from happening again. Many thanks to Serpent's Tail for providing an advance review copy of this title.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    These are the stories of girls and women who have been captured by Daesh. The former beekeeper, Abudllah, is dedicated to rescuing them, and plans to return to beekeeping once the Daesh war is over. It is hard to picture this. It seems to start with the knowledge that Daesh is in the area. There is no time to take much and most flee on foot. Many are shot and women and girls are taken as sex and house slaves. Most rescues happen when women find a way out of their confinement (this is possible These are the stories of girls and women who have been captured by Daesh. The former beekeeper, Abudllah, is dedicated to rescuing them, and plans to return to beekeeping once the Daesh war is over. It is hard to picture this. It seems to start with the knowledge that Daesh is in the area. There is no time to take much and most flee on foot. Many are shot and women and girls are taken as sex and house slaves. Most rescues happen when women find a way out of their confinement (this is possible since their Daesh captors go away to fight) and get access to a cell phone. They call a relative who arranges a pick up, usually to a safe house until it seems ok to move back home or to a refugee camp. Abdullah, who seems to have a network of smugglers and drivers, will negotiate thousands ($US) for ransom, or an outright buy in a “market” (not explained) for the low hundreds. There are descriptions of life in captivity. The women are continually raped (usually after a prayer). If their children are with them they are always under threat. The whereabouts of family is unknown; they are often dead. All of this is justified by a religious edict. The author includes reminisces of her childhood in Iraq and some of her poetry. There are visits to refugee camps, (one is an apartment building), Yizidi holy places and a US show of art by asylum seekers. Three things struck me • The kindness of strangers. Once a woman escapes people will help. One escapee, by chance, went into a dressmaker’s shop and the dressmaker hid her and her two children for 3 months. Others receive help from cab drivers, people loaning cell phones and many people who merely answer a knock on a door • How people seem to know each other. One captive encountered the son of a good friend (now a soldier with Daesh). She told him how to find ransom money in her former house. In one instance, not knowing a phone number, a phone book was used to get random numbers through which they found someone who knew a relative who arranged a pick up.. • The cruelty of Daesh. The mass killings, treatment of the captive women (one had her children killed just before her rape); Ragheb’s description of the training program infused by anger and religion. My 3 stars are generous. While it is important to get these stories out, the book is highly disorganized. A story can end abruptly or another can start before it ends. Some of the stories are incomplete: i.e. what happened to Claudia’s son? The reader gets very little orientation so it is hard to understand how things fit together. - These can be over arching omissions, such as who is the beekeeper? How does the writer, who lives in Michigan, know him? How does he raise thousands of dollars? - These can be little things such as how did the author get photos from the Daesh houses? What is the Office of Kidnapped Affairs? Does Abdullah work for it? The author has access to sources and most likely more information. The topic deserves a better treatment.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    It has all of the ingredients of a fictional best seller, violence, good versus evil, innocents caught in the Hell of oppression, an unsung, underground group of heroes risking their lives for others. There is intrigue, action, horrific scenes as vivid as “reality.” Most importantly, it has hope, because we need to feel hope and to walk away feeling good. Readers would be clambering to purchase and devour THE BEEKEEPER by Dunya Mikhail. Sadly, THE BEEKEEPER is NOT fiction. It IS reality, it is It has all of the ingredients of a fictional best seller, violence, good versus evil, innocents caught in the Hell of oppression, an unsung, underground group of heroes risking their lives for others. There is intrigue, action, horrific scenes as vivid as “reality.” Most importantly, it has hope, because we need to feel hope and to walk away feeling good. Readers would be clambering to purchase and devour THE BEEKEEPER by Dunya Mikhail. Sadly, THE BEEKEEPER is NOT fiction. It IS reality, it is heinous, unthinkable and it is happening now. Dunya Mikhail is the vehicle for the traumatized survivors of physical torture, rape, and dehumanization to tell their stories in their own words. Yes, there are heroes who risk and often lose their lives for justice and for humanity. The women of Northern Iraq have been murdered and brutalized by Daesh (ISIS), supposedly in the name of religion. Their families are gone, their bodies used and abused, sold as slaves, raped, humiliated and those who have escaped have risked themselves again to tell their stories. They tell of being spirited away to freedom by their countrymen who still cling to honor, who resist the clutches of a twisted terrorist group. There IS a beekeeper, a man who has risked everything to free these women and children, but he is also a legion of brave rebels, who are part of the pipeline to freedom. This is NOT a book to overlook because it is NON-fiction! If you want heroes, they are here, larger than life. Do you want survivors? Looking for bravery beyond what can be humanly expected? This is gut-wrenching reality, this is the ugly side of life we know exists, but are safely only peripheral bystanders. This is a must read, and if this book makes even one person take action, then it has not been written in vain. This cannot be unread or forgotten. This is horror at its worst and can we afford to sit back because it is happening 'somewhere else?" I received a complimentary ARC edition from New Directions! My review is voluntary. Publisher: New Directions; 1 edition (March 27, 2018) Publication Date: March 27, 2018 Genre: Non-Fiction Print Length: 240 pages Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble For Reviews & More: http://tometender.blogspot.com

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    The fact that I read this book in less than six hours demonstrates just how gripping it was, but it was not an easy read. A lot of tears were shed and I often read with my mouth agape. I don't think there is anyway to prepare to read the real-life traumas of a group of people who you can identify with in many ways. I will never understand the spirit in which people can rape, murder, bury alive and virtually rip apart families in the name of any God or religion. And in the end, you realize that The fact that I read this book in less than six hours demonstrates just how gripping it was, but it was not an easy read. A lot of tears were shed and I often read with my mouth agape. I don't think there is anyway to prepare to read the real-life traumas of a group of people who you can identify with in many ways. I will never understand the spirit in which people can rape, murder, bury alive and virtually rip apart families in the name of any God or religion. And in the end, you realize that if the global community cannot come together to stop these kinds of atrocities then are any of us really, truly ever safe? Mikhail allowed these women and Abdalla to tell their stories uncensored, raw and with alarming honest. She didn't insert herself selfishly into their narratives and provided a safe space for them to share. And as painful and uncomfortable as it was for me to read it, imagine just how much more painful it was for them. Everyone with an ounce of compassion needs to read this. There is no way anyone can read this and remain unchanged.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Booknblues

    I have a particular interest in refugees and their stories, especially those who may be excluded from immigrating to the US. When I read a review of the newly released book, The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq by Dunya Mikhail, I was intrigued . I began it right away and found it difficult to put down and through this review, I hope to encourage others to read it. This is not easy or pleasant reading material as the story of refugees rarely is. I think though that it brings to light I have a particular interest in refugees and their stories, especially those who may be excluded from immigrating to the US. When I read a review of the newly released book, The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq by Dunya Mikhail, I was intrigued . I began it right away and found it difficult to put down and through this review, I hope to encourage others to read it. This is not easy or pleasant reading material as the story of refugees rarely is. I think though that it brings to light what happened in Syria and Iraq under Isis in a way that is not available through the news media and I appreciated that. Dunya Mikhail is a poet and a teacher who fled Iraq over 20 years ago and became an American citizen. Through calls to Iraq she makes acquaintance with a beekeeper who currently works to free Yadizi women from Isis or as is used this book the more perjorative term Daesh. As the Yadizi are not Islamic, they were in grave danger when the Daesh invaded. They killed the men and older women and enslaved the women. The women would attempt to escape when the opportunity presented itself. One of those they would call was Abdullah, the beekeeper. As he says: "In our society women work and sacrifice for others without getting what they deserve, without enjoying the same privileges as men. Women are oppressed even outside the world of Daesh, which has nothing whatsoever to do with rational human life, of course. I had experience as a businessman, which required a reputation, many business relationships, and knowledge of the roads. With the money I made selling honey in Iraq and Syria I was able to help save female captives — and I rely upon the same skills in my new work. I cultivated a hive of transporters and smugglers from both sexes to save our queens, the ones Daeshis call sabaya, sex slaves. We worked like in a beehive, with extreme care and well-planned initiatives.” We read many of the individual women's stories in this book and each one was heart rending.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amena

    The Beekeeper of Sinjar by Dunya Mikhail “Their souls haven’t moved on, they never will. That’s why their bodies hurt so much. Staying alive doesn’t mean permanent survival. Anyway, what is survival when the calamity survives along with you? To survive all alone is the worst kind of survival.” Until 2014, Abdullah Shrem worked as a beekeeper in Sinjar, Iraq, selling honey. This book is a piece of non-fiction detailing accounts of numerous women who were captured by ISIS and who he helped to The Beekeeper of Sinjar by Dunya Mikhail “Their souls haven’t moved on, they never will. That’s why their bodies hurt so much. Staying alive doesn’t mean permanent survival. Anyway, what is survival when the calamity survives along with you? To survive all alone is the worst kind of survival.” Until 2014, Abdullah Shrem worked as a beekeeper in Sinjar, Iraq, selling honey. This book is a piece of non-fiction detailing accounts of numerous women who were captured by ISIS and who he helped to escape. It is written by Dunya Mikhail, an Iraqi-Assyrian poet who is now based in the United States but was born in Iraq. She had worked as a journalist for ‘The Baghdad Observer’ before she had to flee Iraq via Jordan. Her own journey as well as the beekeeper’s himself, is included in this book. Sinjar is a town in the Nineveh province of Iraq, close to Mount Shingal. Those not familiar with the area soon learned of it when stories emerged of Al-Qaeda causing several explosions in 2007 resulting in the death of hundreds of Yazidis, the people who lived there. Seven years later, Daesh, also known as ISIS, seized the town. From the very first page, the writing is hard-hitting and utterly heart-breaking. There are no other words to describe how I felt whilst reading this book. I could not believe I was reading events that actually happened, when ISIS stormed into Iraq and captured Yazidi people. I could not believe it was real life, that families were forced to flee their homes and take shelter on a mountain in Sinjar. So many of the families left with nothing else but the clothes on their back; some did not even take necessities for their children, such as nappies, water or food. They walked for miles; some found a camp. Their remarkable courage has flown into my veins and remains there, reminding me of their trauma. Every woman’s story is unique to herself, yet each shares similarities with the other. When the Daesh infiltrated Iraq, they separated men from the women, giving assurances that everything would be okay and this was a somewhat temporary measure. These women watched their men, grandparents and own children buried alive. Some boys were recruited for training, which included learning how to kill and how to chop off people’s heads. The women were beaten and raped, some in front of their very own children. They were told to make rockets for ISIS and if there was any fault found, they were beaten with an electric cable. Abdullah recounts the first time he saved a girl in 2014, when he received a call from a female, Marwa, who had been kidnapped. He tells her she needs to get out. Six days later she contacts him again and explains she is safe in the home of a Syrian family. Marwa had a guard who was a Daeshi woman. She would bite her, beat her and prevented her from doing anything, including dying. Marwa came back alone without any members of her family. Abdullah then tells the reader he has fifty-six members of his own family who are still missing. This includes his own brother and sister. The women captured were sold at a market to other Daesh men. They kept the women and children in the same clothes for the entire duration of their captivity. This could be up to a whole year. They married girls as a little as nine years old. You have some who try to run away but are caught and punished. Others who memorise Abdullah’s number after being given it by other women that were detained in a building before they were all sold. One particular story of a woman called Zuhour made me really question humanity. She flees Daesh and manages to seek refuge with a seamstress nearby called Reem, who offers to help her. Reem warns that her own father is a member of Daesh. Zuhour has three children; two girls and a baby boy. Luckily, the father travels for weeks at a time so Zuhour could stay freely when he was not around but when he returned home she hid with her children in a sewing room. After staying with her for two and a half months, Zuhour eventually leaves but not after her sadness and despair is conveyed to the reader. What is also incredible in this story is that Zuhour’s family form such an attachment with Reem that she herself wished she fled with them. Mikhail herself tells of her own story, focuses on the Iran-Iraq war and how she fled. Abdullah also has a tale to tell about his family and how they go missing. His phone will ring midway through the text and he will return to the story he was telling when we meet him again. He is a real hero, stepping in when his cousin Nadia is captured and separated from her husband, forced to convert to Islam with her children and then sold to “marry” a Daesh fighter. He does talk, however, about his work failing and the challenges he encounters. I don’t think there are enough words to do a book such as this justice. It needs to be read. It should be read. It presents the reality of the Yazidi communities and details the abuse and horror they endured. I found it so traumatic that I couldn’t read for a good few days afterward. It is essential reading of the highest kind. There is incredible bravery and compassion from the communities in Sinjar which is highlighted many a time. I was left with thoughts of strength, a wonderment as to how the families tried to rebuild their lives after seeing and experiencing such horror. Whenever we read, it takes us on a journey and provides a portrait for the reader. This is a brutal one, captured through interviews of those who managed to escape. It is nothing less than a powerful tale of humanity.

  10. 4 out of 5

    metaphor

    Listening to her, I imagined a butterfly’s wings fluttering inside of her voice. * Anyway, what is survival when the calamity survives along with you? To survive all alone is the worst kind of survival. * After all, violence can hurt without making a sound. * Sometimes I can’t transfer the feelings so I just stare at the walls instead, the walls of a house filled with people who can’t be bought or sold — at least that’s what we believe. * The mirror on the wall doesn’t show any of the faces that used to Listening to her, I imagined a butterfly’s wings fluttering inside of her voice. * Anyway, what is survival when the calamity survives along with you? To survive all alone is the worst kind of survival. * After all, violence can hurt without making a sound. * Sometimes I can’t transfer the feelings so I just stare at the walls instead, the walls of a house filled with people who can’t be bought or sold — at least that’s what we believe. * The mirror on the wall doesn’t show any of the faces that used to pass in front of it. * The clouds descended upon us war by war, picked up our years, our hanging gardens, and flew away like storks.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Venky

    Nadia Murad was a 19-year-old going about her life with a prosaic bent of mind when fighters from the Islamic State rounded up the Yazidi community in her village of Kocho in Sinjar District, Iraq. What followed was a tale of indescribable horror and dread. Exterminating close to 600 residents of the village, the rabid terrorists took into captivity Nadia and 6,700 other Yazidi women. Employed as ‘sabaya’ or a sex slave, Nadia endured wanton torture and unspeakable torment. Repeatedly sold on Nadia Murad was a 19-year-old going about her life with a prosaic bent of mind when fighters from the Islamic State rounded up the Yazidi community in her village of Kocho in Sinjar District, Iraq. What followed was a tale of indescribable horror and dread. Exterminating close to 600 residents of the village, the rabid terrorists took into captivity Nadia and 6,700 other Yazidi women. Employed as ‘sabaya’ or a sex slave, Nadia endured wanton torture and unspeakable torment. Repeatedly sold on slave markets in Mossul, Tal Afar and Raqqa, Nadia was raped at will by her ‘purchasers’, physically beaten and burned with cigarettes. Adding to her woes was the fact that she lost 46 family members – that included her parents – in the ISIS massacre. After enduring an agonizing twelve months of captivity, Nadia managed to escape and flee to a refugee camp in Duhok, Northern Iraq. Now a resident of Germany, Nadia is engaged in spreading awareness about the atrocities committed by ISIS and their mindless genocide against the Yazidi community. In 2018, In 2018, she, along with Denis Mukwege were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict". In her eviscerating, emotional and extraordinary book, “The Bee Keeper of Sinjar”, the Iraqi-American poet, Dunya Mikhail chronicles in a searing and poignant manner, the travails, tribulations and tumult of a multitude of Iraqi women abducted by the ISIS and subject to unimaginable acts of barbarity. While it requires nerves of steel and a heart of stone to get through till the end of Ms. Mikhail’s book, it also leaves the reader with a hope that emerges out of the very cockles of the heart. The reason for this surging optimism goes by the name of Abdullah, a former bee keeper who has dedicated his very existence, resources and determination to rescuing these vulnerable women from the despicable, diabolical and dreaded clutches of their sadistic captors. Using an elaborate and highly complicated networks of informants, smugglers and known Samaritans, Abdullah working in close co-ordination and co-operation of the Office of Kidnapped Affairs, meticulously pores over maps, prepares painstakingly in advance, plans escape routes and plucks the desperate women right from under the very noses of the ISIS before transporting them to various refugee camps. The harrowing tales narrated by the women makes for some incredibly painful reading. Nadia a young Yazidi woman was sold on the sex slave market for 100,000 dinars (about US$85). The sale was made in a warehouse post an inspection exercise as a process of which the buyers selected their picks like choosing watermelons and after smelling the girls carefully. Nadia’s ‘buyer’ was a man from Chechnya and he carted away Nadia along with her three children (aged six, five and one), to a four-story building in the Tishreen Dam region. Mercilessly beating and raping her in front of her children, Nadia’s captor also had a penchant for “passing her on for a day or two, like presents being borrowed, a practice they called rent.” Nadia and her children worked for twelve hours every day making rockets for the Daesh. “They gave my five-year-old daughter the most dangerous job, tying together the detonation lines. At any moment a mistake could explode the bomb right in her face.” If young women were taken captive and abused to satiate the sexual appetites of the reprobates, a worse fate (if such an extended misery was to be even possible) awaited the elderly women, the men and the little children who refused to be separated from their families. The Daesh separated the elderly, the men, and the obstinate children from the eligible women and either buried them all alive in makeshift pits or shot them down in a torrent of gunfire. Ms. Mikhail also elucidates to her readers that even in the midst of savages there can be found miraculous examples of beacons of empathy. A shining example is that of the seamstress Reem. The daughter of a Daesh member, Reem smuggled Zuhour a mother of two in her warehouse, right under the nose of her unsuspecting father before the resourceful Abdullah whisked the trio away to safety. Reem did not even bat an eyelid before putting herself in a ridiculously dangerous position in trying to rescue Zuhour and her children. The myriad cast of characters facing an existential crisis courtesy the ISIS ways, may be distilled from the assemblage in any refugee camp. In the camp at Arbat, for example, the occupants include Iraqis, Syrians, Kurds, Turks, Assyrians and Persians. There are people from many different regions taking shelter in the camp. Shabak and Christians fleeing from Mosul; Syrians escaping Kobani; Yazidis bidding goodbye to Sinjar, and Muslims escaping across the Tigris from al-Anbar on small skiffs. This arresting work contains its own bit of gallows humour as well. As Ms. Mikhail writes, some women discovered ingenious techniques to ‘trick’ the Daesh and minimizing the grief caused to them. According to one of the captured women, Badia, who was purchased by a Daesh member originally hailing from the USA, there existed five tricks for escaping the Daesh: “the first trick was to stop bathing for an entire month, until she smelled so bad that the fighters would stay away from her, refusing to buy her. The second trick was to claim she was married, and that the little child beside her was her son. The third was to pretend she was pregnant in order to avoid being raped, if only temporarily. The fourth trick was to say that she’d just stepped outside with her girlfriend to get some air. The fifth trick was to call “the American Emir”, (an influential Daesh member originally from the USA), to make it clear that she was not trying to run away from him.” The Daesh viewed the captured youth as potential enlistees for both their missions and martyrdom. With this intent they proceeded to give the boys intensive training. As the mother of a boy named Ragheb recollects, “Ragheb was forced to train for four hours every day, learning how to kill, how to chop off people’s heads. They would also teach him Quran for two hours a day and fight for another hour. They have classes on everything, from how to wash your hands to sex education, from impurity to handling an animal, from genetics to just about anything you can imagine – and things you can’t imagine. And finally a personalized sermon to convince him to die for God, so that he’ll be rewarded in heaven. They have special passes to get into heaven that are handed out at the end.” To quote Nadia Murad, “the daily routine for Daesh is taking drugs, reciting religious songs, going to fight, and then coming home and raping women.” Even after being liberated from the vice like grip of the ISIS these women are scarred psychologically and physically for most of their lives. According to psychotherapist Dr. Nagham Nozad Hassan, the plight of survivors who get pregnant after they are raped is the worst. They develop conflicting feelings between “motherhood and the desire to get rid of Daesh embryos.” The world is indebted to people of the likes of Abdullah. In spite of immense personal tragedy (he lost his brother and some family members to an ISIS mass slaughter), this former bee keeper from Sinjar has dedicated his life to bringing hope to those teetering on the brink of hopelessness. Ms. Mikhail with her haunting book does yeoman service to the noble deeds of Abdullah by bringing them out in the open for the whole of humanity to admire and emulate. The selfless and heroic Abdullah has the last word. “With the money I made selling honey in Iraq and Syria, I was able to help save female captives – and I rely upon the same skills in my new work. I cultivated a hive of transporters and smugglers from both sexes to save our queens, the ones Daeshis call sabaya, sex slaves. We worked like in a bee-hive, with extreme care and well planned initiatives.” We have no option but to offer our deepest gratitude and respect to him!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    I need not just one tissue but a whole box........If you don't read a single book this year or ever. I Strongly recommend you read this one! It will make you think how lucky we are. I found The Beekeeper of Sinjar by Dunya Mikhail heart wrenching and a very strong book that will have you saying OMG and reaching out for some tissues. This book is a compilation of harrowing stories about different attempts to rescue of the Yazidi women, who were captured by ISIS. These women have lost their I need not just one tissue but a whole box........If you don't read a single book this year or ever. I Strongly recommend you read this one! It will make you think how lucky we are. I found The Beekeeper of Sinjar by Dunya Mikhail heart wrenching and a very strong book that will have you saying OMG and reaching out for some tissues. This book is a compilation of harrowing stories about different attempts to rescue of the Yazidi women, who were captured by ISIS. These women have lost their families, close friends and love ones and in a different country. They've been sexually abused, tortured, sold into sex slavery like common cattle, woman and small children are forced to manufacture chemical weapons, then forced into marriage. Their men and the elderly are forced into pits then massacred. Their tales are unfolded within this brilliant written book. Dunya Mikhail also writes about the beekeeper, who uses his knowledge of the local terrain and the large network of transporters, helpers and former smugglers who help bring the women back to safety. This book is just Beautifully written that will make you stop reading and think..........A must Read. A Very Big Thank you to Netgalley, Serpent's Tail / Profile Books and Dunya Mikhail for sharing this True Story. Big Fat 5 Star read. If I could give it 100 Stars I would. My heart goes out to these women and I hope they peace. x

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received an advanced copy via Edelweiss. This book and these stories are going to stay with me for a long time. I took my time reading this because the subject matter is heavy and I needed to take a break once in a while, which sparks some guilt since that privilege isn't available to people living these stories everyday. I watch and read news stories of the situations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, but I had no idea just how awful (horrible? these words aren't strong enough) it is for the I received an advanced copy via Edelweiss. This book and these stories are going to stay with me for a long time. I took my time reading this because the subject matter is heavy and I needed to take a break once in a while, which sparks some guilt since that privilege isn't available to people living these stories everyday. I watch and read news stories of the situations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, but I had no idea just how awful (horrible? these words aren't strong enough) it is for the people Daesh targets. I'm glad Mikhail and Abdalla connected so the book can spread awareness of the nightmare created by Daesh. The subject matter and stories told are worth 5 stars, but the format confused me so I knocked off a star. It took me a while to understand the phone call format and where the narrator/author was. I like how near the end of the book she visited the area and met some of the people whose stories she had heard. Maybe it will read better when it's published.

  14. 5 out of 5

    NancyJ

    Hundreds of girls and women in Iraq were kidnapped by Daesh (ISIS) soldiers in recent years, and were sold or given to soldiers, as sabaya (sex slaves) or wives. (Sometimes as a performance bonus.) This book tells the stories of many of these women, primarily those from the Yazidi religion, and how they escaped or were rescued. This book is heavy on stories, not data, and it's peppered with pictures and poetry. I'm more of a charts and graphs sort of person, but I think we all need to know about Hundreds of girls and women in Iraq were kidnapped by Daesh (ISIS) soldiers in recent years, and were sold or given to soldiers, as sabaya (sex slaves) or wives. (Sometimes as a performance bonus.) This book tells the stories of many of these women, primarily those from the Yazidi religion, and how they escaped or were rescued. This book is heavy on stories, not data, and it's peppered with pictures and poetry. I'm more of a charts and graphs sort of person, but I think we all need to know about these stories, and I'm glad I read the book. The soldiers preferred young virgins, they also stole many married Yazidi women along with their children. (Threats to the children were used to make the women more cooperative.) The soldiers claimed that the women’s real marriages didn’t count. Most expected their “wives” to learn prayers and convert (or go through the motions to convert), but some men didn’t bother with the pretext that it was a real marriage. A man might sell a disagreeable wife before going off to fight, and buy a new one when he returned. Women were beaten and raped in front of their children, and families were often fed nothing but rice. In one example, whole families worked for their captors making bombs, and young boys were trained to become soldiers. They were taught that their mothers didn't deserve respect. When a village was raided, many were first given the chance to convert to Islam, and the men could become soldiers. They were told that otherwise they would be transported to safer areas. The men and women would then be transported separately, and the men were eventually put in large pits and shot to death. The author interviewed two men who played dead and eventually pulled themselves out of their pits. There were online markets set up to sell the women, often for $85, $200 or much more. Middlemen posing as Daesh would buy women, and resell women to their families or others for a profit. Some for $10000 or more. At least one woman was sold to an “American Emir” and the author reported allegations or rumors that Saudi Arabians bought women to use for body parts for transplants. Many of the stories in the book come from Abdullah Shrem, the beekeeper (his former occupation). He started by trying to find and rescue his own relatives. Now he is connected to a network of smugglers (including women posing as vendors) who help find and rescue women. This has become a livelihood for the people in his network, but it’s dangerous work. Families and neighbors might raise $10000 to pay to rescue their loved one, but some women came home to find that few or no family members were left. Bribes, sales, ransoms, and other costs might eventually be reimbursed by an organization set up to help kidnap victims (but only for successful rescues). It was unclear to me if Abdullah was really a hero as the author portrays him, or someone who fell into a lucrative new line of work. I know that having a hero sort of ties the stories together, but the author's lack of journalistic skepticism triggered more of my own skepticism. In the book, she details phone conversations with him, and she relates his stories without seeming to ask any questions. I would have liked more rigor and substantiation of some of the information about the rescues, financials, or other activities. She mentioned an organization for Kidnapping Affairs, which might have provided context, scope or corroboration. Some of the women were able to escape from the houses on their own when the soldiers went off to fight. They were aided, fed, or hidden by neighbors, shopkeepers, or a stranger with a cell phone. If they sought help from the wrong person (in some areas all the neighbors were Daesh), or were caught trying to escape, the consequences could be dire. Some women were frozen in place by fear until someone in the network found them and arranged for their escape. The book details clever and courageous stories of rescues, and touching stories of women and children who were hidden from kidnappers for months. One story reminded me of A Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. There are many parallels between these events and Nazi Germany. Daesh/ISIS is killing and assaulting large numbers of people based on their religion or sect. People used to say of Nazi Germany, If we only knew, we would have done more. One key difference is that due to the Internet and cell phones, it’s harder to keep atrocities a secret from the rest of the world. But we're not paying attention. Perhaps we've become numb to all the atrocities in places we can't easily pronounce. Despite the cruelty and violence, the stories of courage and kindness do provide some hope. A related book is The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, by Nadia Murad. Hers was one of the stories covered in The Beekeeper. I think that the tone of The Beekeeper was less personal and less intense than Nadia’s book, which may make it easier to read, but that also takes away some of the drive to find out what happens next.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rose Peterson

    I can't believe these human rights atrocities happened under my nose while I was in college, and I was completely oblivious to them. Mikhail has captured the stories of the women, as filtered through Abdullah, a man who is nothing short of a hero, rescuing hundreds of abducted and abused women. Someday, kids will learn about this in school and wonder how these events were allowed to happen at this point in history. I will wonder the same, even as I lived through them, and resolve to be more I can't believe these human rights atrocities happened under my nose while I was in college, and I was completely oblivious to them. Mikhail has captured the stories of the women, as filtered through Abdullah, a man who is nothing short of a hero, rescuing hundreds of abducted and abused women. Someday, kids will learn about this in school and wonder how these events were allowed to happen at this point in history. I will wonder the same, even as I lived through them, and resolve to be more aware, more compassionate, less ignorant in the future.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Deeann

    My heart doesn't want to believe that there are men that can be so cruel and have such disregard for women, my mind can't comprehend that there are men and boys that believe they have the right to do whatever they want to another human being. How can we let it happen again.....how can we stop it. On some level we all have heard of the atrocities that women in other parts of the world might face on a daily basis but reading about woman, after woman, after woman has left a lasting impression that My heart doesn't want to believe that there are men that can be so cruel and have such disregard for women, my mind can't comprehend that there are men and boys that believe they have the right to do whatever they want to another human being. How can we let it happen again.....how can we stop it. On some level we all have heard of the atrocities that women in other parts of the world might face on a daily basis but reading about woman, after woman, after woman has left a lasting impression that won't let me forget to quickly the message that this little book has imparted.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dave Archer

    The title alone should have been enough to dissuade me from expecting anything positive from the story, but I knew I didn't know anything about the topic and I wanted to be informed. Having finished the book I now know more than I wished I knew because the world is even crueler than I thought. The book is filled with story after brutal story of families being torn apart by ISIS, murdered, sold, raped, and tortured. The network run by the Beekeeper and others attempts to rescue and purchase as The title alone should have been enough to dissuade me from expecting anything positive from the story, but I knew I didn't know anything about the topic and I wanted to be informed. Having finished the book I now know more than I wished I knew because the world is even crueler than I thought. The book is filled with story after brutal story of families being torn apart by ISIS, murdered, sold, raped, and tortured. The network run by the Beekeeper and others attempts to rescue and purchase as many women as possible. While many women make it out of the hands of their captors alive, the physical and psychological torment which they then endure will surely last their lifetime. It is minimally uplifting when a woman escapes, but harrowing to think of the hundreds of others who don't.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    If you don't read a single other book that I ever recommend, please read this one! . After reading The Beekeeper by Dunya Mikail (March 27, 2018 from New Direction), I now have a deeper insight into the atrocities that are happening in Syria. While it is devastating and heart breaking, this is a necessary read to become informed of what is happening to entire families and communities. The war in Syria has left more than 400,000 people dead or missing and left 1.5 million people with permanent If you don't read a single other book that I ever recommend, please read this one! . After reading The Beekeeper by Dunya Mikail (March 27, 2018 from New Direction), I now have a deeper insight into the atrocities that are happening in Syria. While it is devastating and heart breaking, this is a necessary read to become informed of what is happening to entire families and communities. The war in Syria has left more than 400,000 people dead or missing and left 1.5 million people with permanent disabilities. In the midst of this massive genocide, there are stories of escape.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Will Chin

    Rating The Beekeeper by Dunya Mikhail is difficult, and this is not the first time this year I am feeling this way. The stories told in this book are compelling and brutal. These are first-hand accounts of the horrors of ISIS — or Daesh, as they are referred to in this book —told (mainly) from the perspectives of the women that were kidnapped, imprisoned, enslaved and raped. Then there is the titular Beekeeper, or Abdullah, who's made it his life's mission to rescue as many people from the Rating The Beekeeper by Dunya Mikhail is difficult, and this is not the first time this year I am feeling this way. The stories told in this book are compelling and brutal. These are first-hand accounts of the horrors of ISIS — or Daesh, as they are referred to in this book — told (mainly) from the perspectives of the women that were kidnapped, imprisoned, enslaved and raped. Then there is the titular Beekeeper, or Abdullah, who's made it his life's mission to rescue as many people from the clutches of ISIS as possible by buying and smuggling them out one by one. By all accounts, this should be a shoo-in to the five-star hall of fame. However, like many similar books that I read this year, I find it hard to give it that final 0.5 star to push it over the line. While the stories here are incredibly compelling and moving, the structure of the book is a little piecemeal. Majority of the book are transcripts of conversations between Mikhail and Abdullah or one of the victims of war. And there isn't a discernible structure to the book as well. Instead of telling the story of one survivor in a chapter, sometimes you get three — or none at all. Sometimes the author inserts her own memories of childhood in Iraq. There is even a strange chapter where she recounts a dream of her speaking with Pluto (yes, the planet). This reminds me of the time when I read A Grief Observed by CS Lewis, written after Lewis had lost his wife. The book was written in long hand and published under a pseudonym. The content of the book is raw and unadulterated. CS Lewis committed all his thoughts, doubts and emotions onto the page without holding anything back, which makes for an insightful book about a man dealing with his grief and loss. With that said, maybe that’s why his editor thought it’d be prudent to keep as much of the book intact as possible. Meddling with the raw thoughts and emotions of a grieving author is just not something you want to do as an editor. You don’t want to take the draft back to the author and say, hey, Lewis, you know this chapter over here? It really slows the book down — you just don’t do that. The result is a book that, while compelling, feels at times a little all over the place. I don’t think The Beekeeper is quite as bad in that regard. I think Mikhail does a fairly good job at keeping the narrative straight. It’s just that, since she is predominantly known as a poet, the muscles in her brain is perhaps tuned differently from prose writers. There is something a little off about the way she structured the whole book. I can’t quite put my finger on the issue, but that is what I feel whenever I read a book that’s been written by a poet of some kind. Something just feels off, like there isn’t a cadence to what I am reading. With that said, this is still a highly recommended book. It is even more compelling considering that most of these events happened in very recent history. The violence here were not recorded on video and posted online for the world to see. We saw drownings and beheadings of soldiers and ‘infidels’, but the women that were kidnapped, imprisoned, enslaved and raped were never shown. So to read these accounts, to me, is important. It gives perspectives to the conflicts that are happening in the Middle-east right now. What I love even more about this book is that it doesn’t try to vilify a religion or gender — something that many books I have read recently tend to do, especially those that concern this part of the world. Instead, Muslims are often depicted as kind and brave people, and men and women both help to rescue these women from ISIS. If there is one takeaway from this book, it is the fact that humans are capable of the greatest evil, but also the greatest kindness as well. I just wished that this book had read less like a record or documentation.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ulrika Eriksson

    The Beekeeper of Sinjar, Abdullah, is a Yazidi man that has helped many Yazidi women to flee from the sex slavery they were held in by ISIS, or as they also are called Daesh who 2014 occupied Sinjar, a region in the North of Iraq. Before the occupation Abdullah had sold his honey in Syria across the border so he knew the roads in the area and had connections and that helped him to build up a network of rescuers, many of whom died during the rescue operations. Huge ransoms were paid, and are The Beekeeper of Sinjar, Abdullah, is a Yazidi man that has helped many Yazidi women to flee from the sex slavery they were held in by ISIS, or as they also are called Daesh who 2014 occupied Sinjar, a region in the North of Iraq. Before the occupation Abdullah had sold his honey in Syria across the border so he knew the roads in the area and had connections and that helped him to build up a network of rescuers, many of whom died during the rescue operations. Huge ransoms were paid, and are still paid as this is still going on. The women and the girls has become a lucrative business for ISIS. The author, Dunya Mikhail, refers to conversations she's had on the mobile phone with Abdullah and some of the women. She, in the US where she works as a teacher in Arabic and they, in Iraq. They tell her how ISIS separated the men, the elder women and the younger women and children. The men were shot, standing in their already dug graves They didn't bother to shoot the elder women, they just shoved the earth upon them. Around 7000 girls and young women were taken away to be sold as sex slaves. An estimated 3000 are still held in captivity and the boys are indoctrinated in the Koran and used as suicide bombers. Almost drowned as we are with news, and hardly reacting any longer, this book made it clear what oceans of sufferings these people are living through. From English WP and the net: How many Yazidis that live in Iraq is uncertain. Some numbers say 70 000, some 500 000. In Germany lives around 100 000, in Syria 70 000, in Sweden 4 000. Around 50 000 fled up in the mountains in Sinjar and many died there of thirst and hunger. Around 3000 women and girls as young as 11 years old are still in slavery and can be bought on auctions in Syria for 10 - 20 000 dollar. Jordan Times writes that 47 mass graves with Yazidis has been found. Nadja Murad, Nobel peace prize winner 2018 talks about her captivity with ISIS https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRbHx...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alyse Stolz

    This book ripped my heart from my chest. I have never read such a painful, eye opening book. These women, this beekeeper- these are just snippets of the atrocities happening at the hands of Daesh, or ISIL, or whatever name you know the terrorist group by. Every story made me cry or gasp or yell or throw my kindle across the room. I fail to realize that people, and women especially, are treated this way. Tortured, raped, sold as slaves or for mere body parts. It is horrendous. And yet despite the This book ripped my heart from my chest. I have never read such a painful, eye opening book. These women, this beekeeper- these are just snippets of the atrocities happening at the hands of Daesh, or ISIL, or whatever name you know the terrorist group by. Every story made me cry or gasp or yell or throw my kindle across the room. I fail to realize that people, and women especially, are treated this way. Tortured, raped, sold as slaves or for mere body parts. It is horrendous. And yet despite the immense pain and suffering, there are people dedicating their lives to helping and saving lives. Making the world better. Not giving up despite the agony. Taking it one day and saving one person at a time. This is probably going to be one of the best books I read all year. I will never forget these stories.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ben Dougherty

    In a review for a book I recently read, I posited that while the book featured interesting people with fascinating stories, the stories were told by the wrong person. The stories suffered because of it. The Beekeeper recounts the stories of Yazidi and Christian women that lived under the yoke of Daesh (or ISIS, to Americans). Dunya Mikhail is the right person to tell these stories. The stories flourish and become something higher thanks to her work. Daesh is reflective of a poisonous nihilism and In a review for a book I recently read, I posited that while the book featured interesting people with fascinating stories, the stories were told by the wrong person. The stories suffered because of it. The Beekeeper recounts the stories of Yazidi and Christian women that lived under the yoke of Daesh (or ISIS, to Americans). Dunya Mikhail is the right person to tell these stories. The stories flourish and become something higher thanks to her work. Daesh is reflective of a poisonous nihilism and hopelessness in the world. This book is a rebuke to toxic ideology found everywhere. Consider it required reading if you want to learn more about Daesh beyond what you hear in the news.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    This is a devastating read. There were moments when I gasped and had to put the book down for a while, but I am so grateful to have had this glimpse into the horrors, and the heroes, of our current day.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Julia Siwierka

    Wow. I mean, even though I’ve read 211 pages about it, I still cannot imagine the depth of emotions these women, men, and children conveyed in their stories. I feel I’ve only considered the surface level. This is a raw book. It will leave you breathless.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jack Syron

    Relatively easy read but a hard topic to digest. It's a very personal story and probably the only way to be told beyond the masses. It's a skewed history that will probably never be assembled but it is a current problem that is evil and has to have influence over the mass media.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Mandatory reading. The horrors of war reflected through the prism of beautiful words. That life persists is incredible.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This is about the women and young girls ‘stolen’ by ISIS, their male family members murdered. The women were sold as ‘wives’, and some of them were retrieved and liberated. Not a feel good book, but a reality check of Yazdi’s and others targeted ethnic cleansing in Iraq and Syria.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    A devastating read; this book wrecked me. But everyone should read it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gem ~ Bee

    This novel of literary nonfiction is such an important insight in to the bravery and truth of Yasidi women in Iraq at the hands of Daesh (Islamic State). Part poetry, part biographical it is written beautifully by Dunya, an Iraqi journalist who fled her home and is now a poet and writer living in America, from her own perspective as well as reporting the challenges and tales from the refugee camps relayed in texts and phonecalls by Abdullah Shrem. Abdullah is a beekeeper, and a hero; stepping in This novel of literary nonfiction is such an important insight in to the bravery and truth of Yasidi women in Iraq at the hands of Daesh (Islamic State). Part poetry, part biographical it is written beautifully by Dunya, an Iraqi journalist who fled her home and is now a poet and writer living in America, from her own perspective as well as reporting the challenges and tales from the refugee camps relayed in texts and phonecalls by Abdullah Shrem. Abdullah is a beekeeper, and a hero; stepping in when his cousin Nadia was captured near Sinjar by Daesh, separated from her husband, forced to convert to Islam with her children, and then sold to “marry” a Daesh fighter then bravely escaped with Abdullah’s help. Abdullah goes on to assist in the escape and rescue of countless Yazidi women and children to refugee camps (themselves so crowded and basic that they are difficult to bear). The plight of these people, entire communities that are captured because of their religion, is harrowing, it’s sadly a story that’s a repeat throughout history (the Rwandan genocide for example). The men were immediately killed, elders buried alive, and women and children sold as slaves, to marry abusive supporters of Daesh and young boys brainwashed to fight. The book is not graphic but presents the reality of these communities and it is heartbreaking. The abuse and horror that they endured and that continues to be perpetuated in this region by IS is difficult to imagine yet equally is repeated over and over through the stories Dunya documents. There is however incredible bravery, compassion and sacrifice shown by different communities within Sinjar and the surrounding areas the Yazidi are moved to in order to assist their escapes and safety, The recollections of happier times within the communities and the region are bittersweet, as war has resurfaced many times throughout their history and leaves many scars. I was left with many thoughts to consider and a greater understanding of the region, assisted by my previous reading of The Raqqa Diaries by Samer, I felt I was given an account of the truth of the people, not just the portrayal of the bombings and fightings presented on the news but the lives, loves and souls of those individuals who endure a terrible persecution and live in such uncertainty. Thank you to Netgalley and publisher Serpent’s Tail for a copy of this book to review honestly, in my own words.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Black

    Heartbreaking, beautifully told, hopeful... These people and these stories are part of me now.

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