This is an informative book, making almost comprehensible many of the cultural/religious streams of thought that create and influence the politics and movements in the cultures of Pakistan, especially the tribal lands. The ghost writing is evident in the reportorial style of writing but acceptable considering the nature of the book. Malala presents as a genuinely intellectually sophisticated young woman who is answering a call to human rights activism. She is already an impressive world presence.
The real hardships and obstacles to even a modicum of freedom especially for women in the region are pictured with clarity. They are testimony to the passion and determination of the Yousafzai family to overcome and forward the education of their people. The father, and I believe the mother, are intellectuals in their own right. We hear more of the father’s influence but I believe both must be given responsibility and praise for their exceptional child Malala.
To experience the immersion in fundamental religionism and at the same time comprehend the violence inherent in the culture described in the book is almost overwhelming. It was not the first time and will not be the last time I have shuddered at the impact of violence; but the callous coarsening of everyday life that casual bloody violence brings presents a huge obstacle to the ends Malala Yousafzai seeks. Misogyny a distinct and softer obstacle is equally powerful in that it forms a major supporting structure of the religion fundamental in the lives of the indigenous of the area.
This is a political book. I mean no insult in making that observation but noting it as a harbinger of a powerful woman emerging in the world’s public arena; if she is permitted to live. I cannot resist prophetic commentary. Not a focus of the narrative, but what is there confirms the irrelevance and futility of empire and national power, with all its capacities to kill and intimidate and plunder, contribute little worth while in the long arc of history. The conversation quoted with the late Richard Holbooke is telling.
This is an easy and satisfying read that encourages the reader to give attention to, not only this young woman, but to those martyrs for civil liberties who have risked and, more often than not lost, all in the service of their cause.