Army of Roses by Barbara Victor
Inside the World of Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers

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When Yasser Arafat in January 2002 called on Palestinian women--his "army of roses"--to join in the struggle against Israeli occupation, even he was surprised by their swift and devastating response. Later that same day, Wafa Idris would become the first female suicide bomber of the Intifada. Tragically, she wasn't the last. In Army of Roses, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Barbara Victor profiles Wafa Idris and the other young women who have followed her violent lead toward a martyr's Paradise paved with personal desperation and deadly political maneuvering.

In this astonishing exposé of the political and cultural forces now pressing Palestinian women into martyrdom, investigative journalist Victor identifies what she calls "a new level of cynicism" that has destroyed normal, everyday existence in the Middle East, along with the possibility for lasting peace. Tracing the roots of the women's resistance movement back to so-called personal initiative attacks and a brief period of empowerment in the 1980s before religious leaders clamped down, Victor shows how the current generation of Palestinian women has been courted and cajoled into committing these self-destructive and murderous acts.

By presenting the intimate personal histories of the first five female bombers who have succeeded in blowing themselves up, as well as the troubling stories of some of those who've tried and failed, the author reveals not only the crushing poverty and religious zealotry that one might suspect as motivating factors in their fall, but also a startling emotional component to their death wishes: their broken dreams and blighted inner lives. Victor shows, without dismissing or diminishing the horror of their actions, how far a person can be pushed when she is convinced she has nothing to lose.

About Barbara Victor

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Barbara Victor has covered the Middle East for CBS Television and U.S. News and World Report. She was a contributing editor to Elle USA, Femme magazine, Madame Figaro, and Elle France, and is the author of A Voice of Reason, a biography of Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; Getting Away with Murder, which called for a change in laws concerning domestic violence; and The Lady, a biography of Burmese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. A frequent lecturer on women's issues as well as on the Middle East, Victor divides her time between New York and Paris.
Published October 10, 2003 by Rodale Books. 320 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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though the mullahs of Iran made no mention of women when they decided, in 1982, that the Lebanese Hezbollah’s use of suicide attacks was religiously justifiable, other clerics have followed to promise paradise to both genders—as did the Mufti of Saudi Arabia a few months after the September 11 at...

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Publishers Weekly

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Victor is well versed in the intricacies of Palestinian politics and emotions, and her attempt to communicate her knowledge to the reader is—perhaps inevitably, given the complexity of the subject—a bit rambling, but ultimately convincing that a "misguided feminism" underlies actions like Idris's...

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