A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman
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A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,185 ratings  ·  231 reviews
Lisa Shannon had what some would call a good life—her own business, a successful fiancé, a secure home. Then one day in 2005, shortly after her father’s death, an episode of Oprah changed everything. The show about women in the Congo depicted atrocities too horrible to comprehend: millions dead, women gang-raped and tortured, children starving and dying in shocking numbers...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Seal Press (first published 2010)
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Christina Mitchell
I have difficulty reading memoirs of Western women experiencing the reality of violence in the global South. I have no right to say this, mind you. I am a Western woman...a white woman on top of that. I tread lightly in what I am about to say, mainly because I know that I could be labeled a hypocrite. With that danger in mind, I will proceed to trumpet the efforts and determination of Congolese women. I have been to the eastern Kivu provinces and while I learned much, what I learned most of all...more
Carolyn Mcclimon
I'm...fairly conflicted about this book, but I think most of my issues stem from the writing style and its deficiencies--I'm hoping some things just don't come across in the reading. I should start by saying that I think this is an excellent book for an introduction to the atrocities of the Congo if you're still uninformed. It is a huge, horrific problem that has not garnered nearly enough international attention and help (perhaps because the Congo isn't known for its oil surplus?). In many resp...more
Tara Chevrestt
This is going to come across as heartless to some people, but I had mixed feelings about this book. First, I must applaud the author, Lisa Shannon for setting aside a pretty comfortable life to travel to the Congo of Africa for 5 weeks and meet these women in need. Also, this is a situation that needs to be made known to the rest of the world.

The women of Congo are dealing with not only mass genocide of their villages, but also mass rape. It's so bad, they have a hospital full of women suffering...more
Eileen Souza
This is the best book that I have read on the struggles in the Congo. I'll admit that I am biased, because I sponsor a woman in the Congo through Women For Women Int., and participate in the annual Run For Congo Women in Tempe, AZ each year. However, I believe that Lisa did an excellent job of sharing the true story of the conflict in the Congo and it's impact on people - even when it meant showing her own weakness/embarassments/mistakes as she attempts to change the way that women are treated i...more
Louise
Many cringe on reports of genocide, starvation, mutilation, etc. Their sympathy/empathy might be engaged, but few do anything about it. Upon learning of the plight of the women of the Congo, Lisa Shannon made a commitment to do something to help them.

After organizing marathon fund raisers in the US, Lisa went to the Congo. I was thrilled to see that the money she raised went right to the needs since it appears that Women for Women has almost no administrative costs. That this charity is working...more
Charlotte
I simply can't watch horror movies or read Stephen King books but I can and do read books about real people and real events that are far more horrifying than fiction. The tears they bring remind me that I am still human - one very, very lucky human."A Thousand Sisters" is not a long book but the story is moving, sad and, hopefully, inspirational.

Reading"Half the Sky" which laid bare the atrocities women around the world are suffering and the work that is being taken on by NGOs spurred me to spon...more
*•.♥.•*Sabrina Rutter*•.♥.•*
I had a hard time understanding this book at first. I'm not really into politics at all, so I have no real concept of anything of that nature. The begining of the book gives an indepth description of the politics surrounding the war in the Congo, but for someone like me it was rather confusing, and I admit boring. I pushed through it though and as I read I began to really grasp everything.
I have to warn you that this book will make you cry. Lisa tried to keep this book "clean" (without adding a...more
Lisa
I found this book took a long time to read, not beacause of the difficulty of the text (the author wrote in a very accesible style) but because of the content. I found I had to set it down frequently and digest what I had read. With that said, it isn't necessarily gory, but shocking in it's brutality. We need to be aware of what is happening to people in other parts of the world. I can't fathom why we accept the evening news reporting on celebrity gossip (Tiger Woods, Michael jackson, Anna Nicol...more
Kyla
Whew, this is a tough one. On the one hand, you have to admire someone who takes up a cause unrelated to her with her whole heart, throwing family and jobs under the bus...but then you want to know why. Why this cause and not the hundreds of others? She attempts to answer this question by traveling to the Congo - but then seems intent on merely totting up the atrocities. How many of you have lost children? she would ask, pressing for details. For what purpose? An accounting of atrocities to make...more
Kelly
Shannon did a really valuable thing, but, I can't help but see how self serving it is. She did pull herself out of a depression by helping others, but the whole fact she keeps emphasizing that it was from Oprah was just weird to me. It never felt authentic in the way that Greg Mortenson was authentic in his quests.
The writing in this book is terribly disorganized and disconnected. A co-writer would have made this a more enjoyable read. As it is, I couldn't even read it through to the end, but in...more
Angie
There is a life that women in Congo live that is so horrific, I'm still numb from reading about it, and I haven't been able to even partially fathom what i read about. Rape is a cultural norm in Congo. Rape, and murder. I thought about this while i was in the process reading the book, as I drove my car down a safe street late at night, as I rode my bike down a safe path in the middle of the day, as I sat in my living room and felt secure that my house would not be stormed, I would not be dragged...more
Erin
This memoir, which documents Lisa Shannon's attempt to raise awareness of the plight of the woman of Congo, is outrageously inspiring. After hearing about the conditions in Congo on Oprah, Shannon founds an organization called Run for Congo Women, completes a solo 30-mile run to raise funds, and then travels to Congo to meet the women she is sponsoring. I can't even imagine having the kind of heart and courage Shannon has. I am putting down this book humbled and scanning my brain for ways I can...more
Linda
This is a chronicle of horrors. Lisa Shannon, a successful filmmaker from Portland,OR, videotaped interviews with Congolese women who have suffered atrocities beyond imagining. Her interviews, translated as the women spoke, were, according to the author's note in the front of the book, transcribed directly from video for this book. Shannon, who gave up a thriving career to plunge herself into a war zone founded RUN FOR CONGO WOMEN. This organization funds sponsorship for Congelese women to retur...more
Sandy H
I really wish I could rate this book higher because I care so much about the subject matter. Women in Congo are living through horrific times and most of the world is oblivious. I wish for more publicity, more light to be shone upon the atrocities being committed there. Personally, although I've done quite a bit of reading on Congo and have been volunteering with refugees from Congo in my home town, I wanted to learn more, grow more, understand more. This book did none of that. This book wants v...more
Candy
When young 30-something Lisa Shannon spoke as the final keynote at a three-day fundraiser's conference in D.C. this June, I was awed by this former high-income photographer's passion and single-handed efforts to launch "Run for Congo Women" and start a political movement after watching an episode of Oprah. Her first-hand tales and photos of her Congolese Sisters' suffering and joy brought the whole audience to tears; we gave a standing ovation. (One co-host addressed the group afterward and said...more
Pauline
It's about a women who watches Oprah, sees a sad story. Takes it upon herself to read more about the situation in Congo (Africa). Takes it upon herself to try to raise money and get more awareness out there regarding the situation in Congo and she even goes a step further and travels to Africa with Women for Women.

Within her travels she tells stories of women. Women being taken from their homes, women being cut up, women being raped, women witnessing their child or husband being killed infront o...more
Brenda
I have mixed feelings about this book. It does a terrifyingly good job of illustrating the horrors of women's lives in the Congo. Unlike others, I don't mind the inclusion of personal information regarding the author's life. What I don't like is that Shannon's activism appears to be a response to her own depression and the one dimensional representation of the women she meets. Shannon presents their personal tragedies - rape, deaths of husbands, children, etc. and even writes things like, "She r...more
Judi
This book was very poorly written and didn't seem to go much of anywhere. The author was looking for a cause and evidently invested her life in it because nothing in her life was very exciting or worthwhile. She had adventures in the Congo, but it all seemed surreal, rather than the hell that it was. It shed light on ugly and brutal wars and warring factions in the Congo and how they destroyed the lives of thousands of innocent people, especially women and children. It also convinced me that I N...more
Cassie Hanson
I'm only 100 pages in and I've already sponsored a sister through womenforwomen.org.

Talk about powerful. I'll be adding this to World Lit. next semester, it will make for a great action research project for my seniors!

I did struggle with Shannon's constant reflection of her own life and her relationship with men. I figured it was there to stress how much this organization changed every part of her life; but it was, at times, a little be too much about her and not enough about the women she stud...more
Beth
Aside from the Congolese women's strength and beauty and the inspiration of Shannon actually starting something to help the situation, I found the narrative of her 5.5 weeks in the DRC somewhat disturbing. I wonder if her interviewing and filming inflicted more trauma than it relieved. How many times have the same women be asked about their story? By how many visiting foreigners? Shannon's book seemed more about her than the Congo.
Jae
Though I appreciated her clear-eyed outsider point of view of humanitarian work, she spent too much of the book settling personal scores. At times it felt like she wrote the book partly to stick it to those who didn't believe in her as she never misses an opportunity to take a snide swipe at someone who crosses her. The book in general reads like a diary. I would've appreciated a more studied account of the situation in the Congo.
Nancy
I have been a sponsor with the Women for Women program for 10 years. I hope this book spreads the work. I have sponsored women from the Congo, Bosnia, Iraq, Kenya, and Rwanda. It is such a pleasure to see the progress they make in this program.
Cari
Anyone who has done what Lisa Shannon has done deserves 5 stars. There is absolutely no criticism you can write unless you yourself have followed her steps and put your own life at risk, for the sake of strangers, as she has. Diference between me and her is that I'm a mother and now is not "my time" to serve to the extent she has. She will remain on the top of my hero list. I can only hope one day to have the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and make a difference as she has. God bless h...more
Chris
Lisa Shannon deserves a Nobel Prize, but this book is way too slow.
Lora
I wanted to like this book better than I did. Even though it is hard to read about the situation of many women in the Congo, I was glad to open my eyes a little to the injustice and hardships of many women in that part of the world. I wanted the book to be more about the Congolese women Lisa Shannon is trying to help, but instead it is more about her own personal journey in her life. She is a person who isn't sure what her life really means and what it is suppose to be about, so she is trying to...more
Claire Husting
I am glad I bought this book secondhand. Although "A Thousand Sisters" conveys the atrocity of the situation without completely depressing the reader, the author, Lisa Shannon, leaves a bit to be desired. Obviously admirable for her bravery and willingness to do something, Shannon is also a bit tactless. She goes to the Congo with herself and her story in mind rather than with the people of the Congo in mind. Shannon interview the Congolese sisters, and often urges them to talk about their rape...more
Ji
This book was really detailed, giving voices to some of the Congo women and children who have to live with pain and "cultural" norms (looting, militia, rape, attacks, instability, etc.) throughout their lives. Shannon opened up and shared about her own life as well, but didn't dwell on her first run, which really became an impetus for Run for Congo Women. Most of the book focused on her experiences in Congo, interactions with the Congolese, perspectives, questioning, and stories. I loved the fac...more
B. Lynn Goodwin
More Than a Sisterhood

When Lisa Shannon’s father died, her successful life went flat. Unable to grieve, she slumped in front of the television. There she saw an episode of Oprah, exposing the plight of women in the Congo, who were repeatedly gang raped, tortured, and shot. Realizing she had to do something, Shannon formed an organization called Run for Congo Women, http://www.runforcongowomen.org/index..., to raise money to sponsor Congolese Women and help an international organization called Wo...more
Emily
After the spate of difficult subjects about which I've chosen to educate myself lately, I'm going to need a huge dose of something light, fluffy and chipper. Ugh.

Ms. Shannon founded Run for Congo Women after being moved to action by an episode of Oprah focused on the indescribable horrors the war in Congo has visited on the innocent citizens there. Up to 7 million people have been killed and additional millions have been tortured, mutilated, raped and traumatized. Ms. Shannon wanted to do someth...more
Penny
This book really hit me hard. While I would not compare myself with Lisa Shannon, I recognized her desires as my own and at each step of her journey I cried for what she accomplished, that which I have put off.

I loved her writing. It was true, raw and sincere. "I felt ridiculous, who am I to take on Congo?" This book was overflowing with wisdom. Her father's old note to her as she left for India was pure wisdom, mentioning motivations sometimes being connected to self-promotion of ones esteem....more
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Lisa Shannon founded the first national grassroots effort to raise awareness and funds for women in the DR Congo through her project Run for Congo Women. They have sponsored more than a thousand war-affected Congolese women through Women for Women International. These women are raising more than 5000 children. She traveled solo into Eastern Congo's South Kivu province for five and half weeks in Ja...more
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“I don't know how to stop the atrocities. I don't know how to make people care. But looking into my sister's eyes, we seem to have carved out something between us that none of the madness can touch. Invisible threads.” 19 likes
“I interviewed my dad on video in his final weeks. When I asked about his work and finding meaning through helping others, he responded, "I don't think you can be focused on, 'Oh gee, I want to make a difference.' It has to be spontaneous. If it's not...there's some kind of egotistical thing going on. That's a red flag. You hope you impact people on the deepest level you are capable of at the time. Sometimes you hit it, sometimes you don't. You're trying.” 11 likes
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