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Home » Authors, Doll Eowyn, Honorary Dolls, Nicholas D. Kristoff, Reviews, Sheryl Wu Dunn

Guest Review: Half The Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn

Submitted by on July 6, 2011 – 4:00 am4 Comments

Author: Nicholas D. Kristoff, Sheryl Wu Dunn
Book: Half The Sky
Release: September 8, 2009
Series: Stand Alone
Reviewer: Eowyn
Source: Personal Library

From two of our most fiercely moral voices, a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world.

With Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet the extraordinary women struggling there, among them a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth. Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity, and ultimately, hope.

After having lots of life changes since Paperback Dolls started, I finally felt I had time to sit down with a review or two for my dear Dolls. Without hesitation I asked if I could start with a book dear to my heart, “Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide” by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book gets it’s name from a Chinese proverb that states “Women hold up half the sky” and it takes on a range of women’s issues from trafficking to infant mortality and I feel the issues this book addresses affect each of us as women and men, therefore, it should be considered an important book to be read by all.

“Half The Sky” discusses the vital role women play in the future of the World’s economy and makes some very valid points to back up their assertion. They argue that the way to move the world forward in the next century is to empower and educate women. They show evidence that by helping women you can improve the way of life dramatically in a region. They discuss their agenda by discussing three of the world’s largest abuses against women: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence, including honor killings and mass rape; and maternal mortality.

One of the things I love the most about the way “Half The Sky” is written involves the way Kristof and WuDunn don’t just throw statistics at you to show the scope of the problem, they tell you stories. They write of women they have met who have undergone tremendous adversity yet persevered. These women have taken the most devastating things to happen in their lives and turned it into a catalyst to change their world for others. You will find yourself caught up in the stories of these women and you will be cheering for them. As I read, I found myself inspired by their courage and strength.

The other thing I love about this book is that the authors don’t just tell you what’s wrong with the world, they offer advice backed with data on how to fix it. They discuss methods for change that have been working across the globe and how women have been affected by things that to us in America will seem so small. I also feel the book is a very balanced book that takes a look at what has worked well and why, regardless of the person’s beliefs or backgrounds and equally shows what hasn’t worked with explanations. I have found the ideas something to ponder as I go about my daily activities. The book has added a new perspective to how I view issues regarding women. Kristof and WuDunn weave stories of organizations that are helping women that they have met first hand into the book which in turn gives you numerous organizations on a range of women’s issues that you can support or become involved in. They don’t just tell you a problem, they show you how you can be part of the solution which is what really makes this a powerfully motivating book for me.

Overall as you read this book you will cry, you will cheer, you will wonder how people can be so cruel to other human beings and you will feel inspired by the strength and leadership these women portray. Your heart will be touched and when you lay down “Half The Sky”, after turning the last page, most of all you will be asking “How can I do my part today to make our world a better place for women.”

Paperback Dolls is made up of women from different parts of the world, with different backgrounds, different tastes and beliefs that were brought together through a love of reading. We like to think of ourselves as a cyber version of "The View" that focuses on books, authors, and reading. We are proof positive that one common love can unite the most opposite of people and form lasting friendships that introduce other ways of life and perspectives to each other.
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  • Swinka says:

    Lovely review, Steph. Thanks for recommending the book.

    Reply to this comment »
  • Day says:

    Great Review Steph! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Noa says:


    Thank you so much for sharing this review and bringing this incredible book to my attention. It looks like a must read!

    Reply to this comment »
  • Mona Leigh says:

    Great review, Steph. I must confess, I hadn't heard of this book before, but it sounds compelling. Thanks for putting it out there.

    Reply to this comment »