Our Bodies, Their Battlefields: War Through the Lives of Women

Scribner. Sept. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781501199172. $17. POL SCI
Foreign correspondent Lamb’s (Farewell Kabul) latest book describes interviews with victims of war-time rape conducted throughout the 2000s and across the globe. Sixteen short chapters weave personal stories with historical background: the rise of IS in the Middle East and Boko Haram in Nigeria along with the Rohigya genocide in Myanmar, the Bangladesh Liberation War, the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, the Bosnian War, Argentina’s “Dirty War,” the Congo Wars, and World War II. Offering a crash-course in recent history and telling the stories of women as young as four and as old as 89, the book also argues that rape is “the world’s most neglected war crime.” Lamb draws on the work of lawyers and scholars as well as her own reporting to argue that rape, often described by victims as worse than death, is used as a deliberate military strategy but is rarely tried in court due to the false belief that it is ancillary to the goals of terror and ethnic cleansing.
VERDICT Dizzying for its historical breadth and emotional strain, this book is nevertheless essential reading. Readers interested in human rights will stick through the highly readable but earth-rattling chapters for the sake of their larger purpose; namely, to give voice to people who have felt erased.
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