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The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  1,204 ratings  ·  259 reviews
The nineteenth daughter of a local village leader in rural Afghanistan, Fawzia Koofi was left to die in the sun after birth by her mother. But she survived, and perseverance in the face of extreme hardship has defined her life ever since. Despite the abuse of her family, the exploitative Russian and Taliban regimes, the murders of her father, brother, and husband, and nume ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan Trade
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I loved this memoir of a woman who grew up in a remote village in Afghanistan. She was inspired by her father's leadership skills and decided to get an education and go into politics; now she is a member of Parliament, trying to improve the lives of her fellow Afghanis, especially women. Fawzia's story is all the more amazing because after she was born, she was abandoned and left to die in the hot sun because her parents didn't want any more girls. Her mother eventually took pity and saved her, ...more
Mar 14, 2013 Jennie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone - this should be required reading.
I saw Fawzia Koofi on a recent episode of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," and her brief interview made me rush out and buy this book as soon as I could.

This book should be required reading for high school students (boys and girls, but especially girls), as well as any adult who can be convinced to pick it up. Fawzia Koofi's life story is compelling and inspiring, and I find myself both inspired and embarrassed by her, mainly because I am a soft, middle-class American woman whose toughest stru
Jan Marquart
I have been reading two to four books a month for two decades and my favorite genre is memoir. But The Favored Daughter, One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future has now become my favorite book of all the memoirs I have read. I received this book as a winner in Goodreads and no payment has been made for this review. I know little about the daily life of an Afghanistan woman despite all the publicity since America has been fighting the Taliban and I have to give this book a full five ...more
Following her interview with Jon Stewart, I ordered the book on Amazon. I got it yesterday evening.....just finished reading it an hour ago...this is one amazing book!! One thing that stands out in the recent books that I have read - whether it is Fawzia Koofi or Sonia Sotomayor, this incredible human resilience, optimism and the instinct of survival in the worst of circumstances to hope for a better tomorrow, is fascinating!! These women are such inspiring role models, in front of us, in our ow ...more
Julie Dolcemaschio
This book left a lot of unanswered questions for me, and I put the book down with perhaps three dozen pages left. The story is harrowing, as any story of a woman growing up and living in Afghanistan would be, but throughout the book I never felt as though Koofi understood life outside of Afghanistan enough to actually rule, or lead a country in such a condition as this one. In short, I didn't buy it, or her. While she said she was educated, I didn't see it in terms of her knowledge of how the re ...more
Jenny Tipping
Review written for

The Favored Daughter is the powerful memoir of Fawzia Koofi, the human rights campaigner and first female Speaker of the Afghan parliament. The story traces her life from her birth into a patriarchal society in Northern Afghanistan, through the death of her father, himself a prominent and respected politician and the turbulence caused by his assassination. Always ambitious, she goes to school in Kabul during the Soviet and civil war eras but her educati
As some other reviewers did, I saw Ms. Koofi on the Jon Stewart show and went right out and bought the book. I am in the middle of it, but inspired to write a review bc her story is educational, inspiring and worthwhile (also sometimes brutal). Many people-- women and men-- supported her in her efforts throughout her life which I probably shouldn't have found surprising, but I did. I seem to hear of so much of the brutality and of women as second class citizen's but it is a much more nuanced soc ...more
Erin Herzog
This book was outstanding! Fawzia Koofi is only a few years older than me but she has lived a life so far removed from that of mine. We learn about her upbringing as a young Afghanistan girl - one who listens and learns from her family elders. We learn about the change of leadership in her country – from a pristine countryside to one that is taken over by Taliban extremists. We watch as her father is murdered while trying to serve his village’s constituents and we see how her family endures in n ...more
Joyce Scapicchio
I am left humbled, horrified, aghast, anxious, dare I think even slightly hopeful after reading Koofi's life (so far) story... maybe she WILL one day be president of Afghanistan. Though the writing is not always the best, and the end a little preachy, her story is gripping. From abandonment at birth, through a lifetime of war and discrimination, Koofi persists, and somehow grows into an incredible woman. She has become not just a strong and educated woman, but also a mother and leader in her wor ...more
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Like several other reviewers here, I was captivated by an interview with Fawzia Koofi and hurried to get hold of her book. Her story is at once deeply disturbing and inspirational, and the book is certainly thought-provoking. Moments of vivid detail (a prison guard notices her polished nails; she battles morning sickness wearing a burqa) are tremendously powerful. However, as a book it was disappointing; the editorial process did not serve her story well. The device of using letters to loved one ...more
This book was fascinating from a historical and cultural perspective. It presented the historical information clearly. I finished the book with a deep admiration of the author as well. She is a profoundly forgiving person. Her optimism is backed up by people see has seen open their minds after one of her speeches. She tells a story that is compelling in and of itself, but the writing style doesn't draw you in. I'm glad I read it; reading this book is worlds better than learning about this topic ...more
I'm amazed at Koofi's strength and I loved reading her story. I think it's really important that we listen to people who have surmounted the kind of overwhelming odds that Koofi has. It sounds trite to say "bear witness," but that's what I mean. We can't let the world forgot the horrible crap that some cultures foist on their citizens. Because I have so much freedom in my life, I found myself frustrated with her at times - it felt like she was submitting to her patriarchal culture. I had the sam ...more
An amazing life that witnessed such enormous changes - and she's only in her 30's! Growing up first in a rural Afghan village where girls were worth less than nothing, then moving to the city and convincing her mother to send her to school; living through war and the Taliban; beng widowed; getting elected to the legislature. Hard to believe how things keep swinging between good and horrible. Right now she believes things are good - let's hope they stay that way.
Diana Gagliardi
Amazing book, amazing woman. I now have a much better and deeper understanding of Afghanistan and all it's been through. Seeing it through Afghani eyes and experience creates a much more compelling background for helping and assisting a country that has suffered from far too many people trying to claim it. We are lucky in our distance and in not having to know what the sounds of war are.

Fantastic book. Thank you Jon Stewart for making me get it.
"I was almost 4 years old when you were martyred. In that short time you only addressed me directly once, and that was to tell me to go away" Words written to her dead father by the author Fawzia Koofi.

As I read her story it seemed I was surely reading fiction. No one could have lived her life and survived.
During the time the Taliban took over Afghanistan, she was getting married & only 17 years old. During this time I was on the other side of the world in my own world of what to wear, was h
A very intriguing book. I felt like it was a Hollywood movie. So much of it was so unbelievable, yet true. I can't even begin to imagine what life in Afghanistan was like during her life so far. Her life was so tragic, yet she has come so far and is now quite a political influence. To read about her life is just heart wrenching. Every time things began to look up, a tragedy happened. She spent so much time running and hiding that it seems impossible that anyone could live that way. She is a woma ...more
Lindsey Sheehan
Quick read. An interesting story, but very repetitive and self-promoting.
This book had me reeling for the floor sobbing like a little child. The harsh and strict reality that kept Fawzia, and me, confined within our thoughts the entire time. A painfully gentle reminder as a woman of this world, that our existence is not protected -- Where there is always an obstacle in her way. I respect the women of the Middle East, and urge those ignorant of the culture to educate themselves through the eyes of a woman who may have become a victim to her own country, is now one of ...more
Fawzia Koofi is the daughter of a local village leader - the 19th child of his second, but favorite, wife. She chronicles her life from the small poor village in northern Afghanistan where she was born to the capital city of Kabul where she was able to go to school for a time. Afghanistan went through many political changes as Fawzia aged - first under Soviet rule until they were pushed out by the Mujahideen, and then coming under Taliban rule.

This was a selection for the nonfiction book club I
Clara Roberts
This daughter was the ninteenth of twenty-three children of her father who had seven or eight wives. He would divorce a wife to marry another so he only had four wives at one time. Most of his marriages were political unions. Most of the women were drudges and baby factories and all were illiterate. This daughter was the first in her family to go to school. She spoke of the father beating the mother and felt that that was a sign of his love for her mother. This book startes with the time of the ...more
The Favored Daughter: One Woman’s Fight to Lead Afghanistan into the Future by Fawzia Koofi with Nadene Ghouri is a compelling memoir and a timely view of political struggle in Afghanistan. Starting out as the unwanted 19th of her father’s 23 children in a land of constant war and victimization of women, Fawzia Koofi’s first achievement was to become her mother’s favorite and thus gain support for her education and ambition. Her heritage in a political family began with her father’s murder and t ...more
This is a book which is simply incredible. Incredible as in beyond belief.

It amazes me that human beings can live through such huge changes in just one life time, and come out relatively normal. Fawzia Koofi was born into a Russian controlled Afghanistan. She then lived through the warlords seizing the country. The Taliban were the next stage of her life followed by 9/11 and all the kak that brought Afghanistan. And now she is a member of the democratically elected government in Afghanistan.

Because it’s a memoir, I’m going to refrain from critiquing the content. I would like to say, however, that I do not agree with several of her views.

- I think the book should have been written as Op-Eds and blog entries - not an actual book. It was hard to follow her because she tells the story in a roundabout way. I think it’s because it is written exactly like how she speaks/would tell the story in person, which makes it very difficult to follow.
- I don’t know much about Afghanistan so the fi
Catherine Woodman

This is a ghost written book, with a named ghost, but the story has the same limitations, problems, and pluses that you would expect--the story is not the one the writer would tell, but it is better written than the one that the subject would write.

That being said--that it is not a book of great artisanship--does not detract at all from the fact that it is a story worth listening to, and listening loud and clear, because this is about the country that we are about to pull our troops out of. Ther
This was an enlightening and timely read considering Koofi is running for the 2014 presidential elections in Afghanistan. Here is a woman who has really endured hardships and has only become stronger. As I read her memoir, I kept wondering why she would continue to return to the areas in Afghanistan most plagued by danger. It was a wonder to me that she and her family didn't simply leave the country and never return for at times the situation seemed utterly hopeless. That's some loyalty to her c ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone

Wow. Just wow. "We don't have to be a nation that the world either fears as terrorists or pities as victims. We are a great people and can be a great nation." Here is a woman I am just in awe of. A woman who has surely struggled. She lived a conservative Islam life where many hard working and strong women choose to wear a burqa ..keyword being choice. Where women could become doctors but not easily enough. And then came the Taliban.

The book is repetitive at times, but I found it hard to put dow
I have a weakness for books such as this, like Ayan Hirsi Ali's Infidel and Nomad (I found her books to be so powerful. I am a huge fan of hers), or the Princess Sultana series (these were ok, mostly it came off as the complaints of a spoiled rich woman, but her stories of others were important), or Mayada Al-Askari's memoirs (the two latter both written by Jean Sasson)etc. etc. I did not find Fawzia Koofi's story to be the most compelling of them all, and I know each person's story is different ...more
Wow, amazing book. The first part of the book talks about her life, which was fascinating. The trials that she suffered trough were intense, and certainly made me better appreciate my own life and how lucky I have been. She still maintains a positive outlook despite a very grim past and challenging future. The later part of the book details her political career, the challenges Afghanistan faces, and her hopes for the future. I learned a great deal, changing some of my ideas about Afghanistan and ...more
I saw the author being interviewed on The Daily Show and was immediately interested in picking up her book. She's a Parliament speaker in Afghanistan and 2014 presidential candidate. In this, she documents what her life was like under Afghanistan's continually changing rulers and constant wars, how each change impacted her life, and struggles she's overcome to be a female politician in what is a changing, but still very much male-centric, country.

It was amazing to hear everything that the author
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Fawzia Koofi is Afghanistan's first female Parliament speaker and a noted activist for women and children’s rights. Her forthcoming book THE FAVORED DAUGHTER will be released January 3rd, 2012 by Palgrave.

Koofi is currently a leading candidate for the presidential elections in 2014 and has been quoted by the BBC, Time, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Globe and Mail, and many
More about Fawzia Koofi...
Letters to my Daughters

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