The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe (P.S.)

82%

30 Critic Reviews

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a quick read, interesting, and heartwarming book.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

"We're far more accustomed to—and comfortable with—seeing women portrayed as victims of war who deserve our sympathy rather than as resilient survivors who demand our respect…" 

Former ABC journalist Gayle Tzemach Lemmon tells the riveting true story of Kamila Sidiqi and other women of Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban’s fearful rise to power. In what Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, calls “one of the most inspiring books I have ever read,” Lemmon recounts with novelistic vividness the true story of a fearless young woman who not only reinvented herself as an entrepreneur to save her family but, in the face of ferocious opposition, brought hope to the lives of dozens of women in war-torn Kabul.

 

About Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

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Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a Fellow and Deputy Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2004 she left ABC News to earn her MBA at Harvard, where she began writing about women entrepreneurs in conflict and post-conflict zones, including Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Rwanda. Her reporting on entrepreneurs in these countries has been published by the New York Times, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, CNN.com, and the Daily Beast, as well as the World Bank and Harvard Business School. She lives in Los Angeles.
 
Published March 15, 2011 by HarperCollins e-books. 295 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon10
Peak Rank on Apr 10 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
All: 30 | Positive: 24 | Negative: 6

Kirkus

Excellent
on Oct 14 2010

A memorable, inspiring story of courageous community-building.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Jan 10 2011

It's a fascinating story that touches on family, gender, business, and politics and offers inspiration through the resourceful, determined woman at its heart.

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Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jan 10 2011

It's a fascinating story that touches on family, gender, business, and politics and offers inspiration through the resourceful, determined woman at its heart.

Read Full Review of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by ManOfLaBook.com on Apr 04 2012

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is a quick read, interesting, and heartwarming book.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by ManOfLaBook on Apr 03 2012

The more I read the book, the more admiration I felt towards Ms. Sadiqi. Not only because of her business prowess, but also because she cared about her community and customers – something I feel we have lost on the U.S.

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Blog Critics

Excellent
Reviewed by Wisteria Leigh on Mar 27 2011

Readers will be grateful that she has introduced us to Kamila Sidiqi, a fascinating woman who is making a difference.

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NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Cathy Puett Miller on Mar 15 2011

At times startling and inspiring, terrifying and heartwarming, the magnitude of this story sometimes cries out for stronger, more descriptive language. Even with that shortcoming, there is no denying the power of this young woman’s example and the celebration this story provides of human determination and spirit.

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Examiner

Above average
Reviewed by Mantra Roy on Feb 09 2012

... readers will cheer all along for the stunning composure, self-assurance, and confidence Kamila demonstrates.

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Examiner

Excellent
Reviewed by Diane Weddington on Aug 12 2011

This book is one of the best ever written about how women can succeed as entrepreneurs under even the most difficult situations.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Cathy Puett Miller on Mar 15 2011

...there is no denying the power of this young woman’s example and the celebration this story provides of human determination and spirit.

Read Full Review of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Washington Times

Good
Reviewed by Sandra McElwaine on Apr 01 2011

Ms. Lemmon has shown the optimism and tenacity of the resilient Afghans along with their aspiration for freedom...

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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Samantha Nelson on Apr 21 2011

Kamila’s story is certainly worth telling, but the book’s narrow focus makes it feel like a missed opportunity to share more.

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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Samantha Nelson on Apr 21 2011

Kamila’s story is certainly worth telling, but the book’s narrow focus makes it feel like a missed opportunity to share more.

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Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
Reviewed by Kelly Nuxoll on Mar 15 2011

...it is because the story is so seldom told that “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana” verges on required reading. At the very least, it is an important reminder of the power of the public eye.

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Suite 101

Excellent
Reviewed by Susan Whelan on Oct 16 2011

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is both confronting and inspiring.

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Patheos

Above average
Reviewed by Nicole on Apr 20 2011

Although the lightness of the storytelling makes the drama of the context lose its punch, it is a feel-good, pleasurable read at the crossroads between journalism and novel.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Pam Norfolk on Mar 18 2014

Lemmon’s powerful book takes us to the heart of the oppression faced by Afghan women under Taliban rule but also celebrates Kamila’s endless determination and resourcefulness in her mission to care for her siblings...A moving and must-read book...

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The National

Above average
Reviewed by Tahira Yaqoob on Apr 22 2011

...its narrator, whose clunky, lumbering prose and clumsy dialogue do little to convey what should, in essence, be a life-affirming tale.

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BookDragon

Excellent
on Apr 20 2011

...Kamela and all the women like her “believe, as they always have, that something better is possible.” By sharing these women’s courageously tenacious stories, Lemmon provides readers convincing proof to believe, as well.

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Asian Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Rajat Chaudhuri on Jul 03 2011

There are many more Kamilas in Afghanistan. The significance of the struggles of these women and their hard-won freedom will not be lost on anyone...

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Cape Ann Beacon

Excellent
Reviewed by Rae Francoeur on Apr 21 2011

Lemmon’s thorough research and reporting makes it seem as if we are there in the house with these women and with Kamila, especially.

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The Capital Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Susan Salter Reynolds on Mar 27 2011

Lemmon’s “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana” is pure inspiration.

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Booking Mama

Excellent
Reviewed by Julie P on Mar 24 2011

...it also brings to light some questions about faith, economic hardships, oppression, and war. There is quite a bit to discuss and I think most female book groups would love to delve into this story.

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Lesa's Book Critiques

Good
Reviewed by Lesa on Apr 17 2011

In a riveting story that reads like a novel, Lemmon tells of Kamila's success. Somehow she had to find a way to make a living for herself and her family.

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Lit and Life

Above average
Reviewed by Lisa on Apr 11 2012

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana is narrative nonfiction that pulls the reader in immediately. The book did feel as though it got bogged down a bit in the details early on and later I sometimes felt as if the book were racing ahead of itself.

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Reading on a Rainy Day

Below average
Reviewed by Athira on Mar 09 2011

While not one of the best biographies I've lately read on this topic, the story is no less inspirational. This is a fast and short read - only occasionally the writing disappointed me.

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BookNAround

Above average
Reviewed by Kristen on Apr 19 2012

For those interested in another facet of the reality of Afghanistan under the Taliban, this will fill in some of the picture. That these women persevered and succeeded even in the face of threats of beatings, imprisonment, or death is incredibly awe-inspiring and humbling.

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Helen's Book Blog

Above average
Reviewed by Helen on May 15 2011

Every time I read another book about Afghanistan, and in particular a book that is about Afghan women, I think I am going to read the same story as before. However, each woman's experience under the Taliban is slightly different and so, each time I learn something new and get a different perspective on this country in the news.

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https://mauriceonbooks.wordpress.com

Good
Reviewed by lomaurice on Mar 16 2011

Sidiqi continues to help other women in strife torn countries to begin businesses of their own. This has become her lifework now. From a very humble beginning, to taking on the world. A wonderful book to be passed on to others.

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Entertainment Realm

Below average
on Oct 05 2011

While The Dressmaker of Khair Khana introduces the industrious and intelligent Kamila, I desired more conflict. I couldn’t get a feel for just HOW dangerous it was or what risks Kamila took.

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Reader Rating for The Dressmaker of Khair Khana
78%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 732 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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