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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  ·  1,467 ratings  ·  281 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 St. Martin's Press
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Diane Librarian
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
A marvellous biography, by one of Afghanistan's foremost women politicians.

Not only is it a story following the fascinating life of Fawzia Koofi, from early childhood to her successes today, but it is soaked in Afghan culture. Koofi, whilst being intelligent and educated, is nevertheless Afghan to the core, and she shows us life through the eyes of an Afghan woman.

We follow her life during her childhood, then during the difficult times of the Russian invaders, then the civil war when Majahideen
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
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
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
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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Aug 20, 2015 Nadia added it
She's a formidable woman and this biography reveals the derivation of her political life. She shares some pretty personal stories, uncommon for Afghans, but it makes for a compelling read. The best part of Fawzia Koofi's story is that it's not over.
The daughter of a well-off and politically active father ... but still a daughter. Strong mother, strong family ties, a husband who was generally supportive of her ambitions and an education allowed Fawzia to overcome horrendous tragedies and rise into the family business of politics. Very hard to read at some points. At points hopeful, but Afghanistan has so far to go.
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
Amazing biography! A hard-working, honest and strong woman! Amazing life!
James F
This is the February read for the Utah State Library's book discussion.

It is the autobiography of Fawzia Koofi, the deputy Speaker of the Afghan Parliament and a candidate for President of Afghanistan in the elections scheduled for 2014. Koofi was the youngest daughter of a politician and member of Parliament who was assassinated by the Mujahadeen during the war against the Soviet Union. The book is very intense in places; it describes the brutality of the Mujahadeen and their destructive conte
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
Kelsey Hanson
This is another book that makes me grateful that I was born in a country where women are allowed to receive an education and engage in politics. Fawzia's story covers her childhood growing up in Afghanistan and living through the rise of the Taliban. I think this book showcases that the Taliban's views do not reflect the views of many of the Afghan people. Her story of survival and her pursuit of politics and gave me a new view of the country of Afghanistan.
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.
Mz. 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
I enjoyed the viewpoint of Fawzia and learning about Afghanistan. I found some of her world hard to read about (how the men in her society treat and view women - her father only spoke directly to her once and that was in reprimand and her husband was unforgiving of her when she gave birth to a second daughter. Also the look into a woman's life during civil war was hard to read about). Her mother was an amazing woman, and I loved learning about her. I did find some of Fawzia's viewpoints of Ameri ...more
An excellent read

The author gives good insight into the Afghan culture. It is difficult to understand some of their customs - especially the treatment of women. The book also gives a good history of the power changes in recent years and how that has affected the people of Afganastan.
Carol Palmer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
John Wiswell
Knowing that we should approach any politician's autobiography with skepticism, I was still deeply moved by The Favored Daughter. Koofi was the daughter of a middle wife to a polygamous politician, and because girls were so unwanted, she was left outside to die in the sun. A neighbor took pity on her wailing and brought her inside, and seeing the burned child, her father swore to favor her in penance. She still has scars from the sun to this day, and will until she dies. As she writes in the pol ...more
This memoir, by a woman born in Afghanistan in the mid-70's, documents her life and how the wars and ever-changing religious and political landscape in Afghanistan have affected Afghan lives, especially those of women. She started out as 'another unwanted daughter', but was later allowed an education - rare for girls, married and had two daughters, survived many horrible run-ins with the taliban, and lost her husband due to their abuses. She persisted in attaining a Master's Degree in Pakistan, ...more
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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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