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Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World
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Penguin Publishing Group 2016
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Description
For more than a decade, Katherine Zoepf has lived in or traveled throughout the Arab world, reporting on the lives of women, whose role in the region has never been more in flux. Only a generation ago, female adolescence as we know it in the West did not exist in the Middle East. There were only children and married women. Today, young Arab women outnumber men in universities, and a few are beginning to face down religious and social tradition in order to live independently, to delay marriage, and to pursue professional goals. Hundreds of thousands of devout girls and women are attending Qur’anic schools—and using the training to argue for greater rights and freedoms from an Islamic perspective. And, in 2011, young women helped to lead antigovernment protests in the Arab Spring. But their voices have not been heard. Their stories have not been told.

In Syria, before its civil war, she documents a complex society in the midst of soul searching about its place in the world and about the role of women. In Lebanon, she documents a country that on the surface is freer than other Arab nations but whose women must balance extreme standards of self-presentation with Islamic codes of virtue. In Abu Dhabi, Zoepf reports on a generation of Arab women who’ve found freedom in work outside the home. In Saudi Arabia she chronicles driving protests and women entering the retail industry for the first time. In the aftermath of Tahrir Square, she examines the crucial role of women in Egypt's popular uprising.
 
Deeply informed, heartfelt, and urgent, Excellent Daughters brings us a new understanding of the changing Arab societies—from 9/11 to Tahrir Square to the rise of ISIS—and gives voice to the remarkable women at the forefront of this change.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
01/12/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780698411470
ASIN:
B00WDP8020
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Katherine Zoepf. (2016). Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Katherine Zoepf. 2016. Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World. Penguin Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Katherine Zoepf, Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World. Penguin Publishing Group, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Katherine Zoepf. Excellent Daughters: The Secret Lives of Young Women Who Are Transforming the Arab World. Penguin Publishing Group, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Excellent Daughters
fullDescription
For more than a decade, Katherine Zoepf has lived in or traveled throughout the Arab world, reporting on the lives of women, whose role in the region has never been more in flux. Only a generation ago, female adolescence as we know it in the West did not exist in the Middle East. There were only children and married women. Today, young Arab women outnumber men in universities, and a few are beginning to face down religious and social tradition in order to live independently, to delay marriage, and to pursue professional goals. Hundreds of thousands of devout girls and women are attending Qur’anic schools—and using the training to argue for greater rights and freedoms from an Islamic perspective. And, in 2011, young women helped to lead antigovernment protests in the Arab Spring. But their voices have not been heard. Their stories have not been told.

In Syria, before its civil war, she documents a complex society in the midst of soul searching about its place in the world and about the role of women. In Lebanon, she documents a country that on the surface is freer than other Arab nations but whose women must balance extreme standards of self-presentation with Islamic codes of virtue. In Abu Dhabi, Zoepf reports on a generation of Arab women who’ve found freedom in work outside the home. In Saudi Arabia she chronicles driving protests and women entering the retail industry for the first time. In the aftermath of Tahrir Square, she examines the crucial role of women in Egypt's popular uprising.
 
Deeply informed, heartfelt, and urgent, Excellent Daughters brings us a new understanding of the changing Arab societies—from 9/11 to Tahrir Square to the rise of ISIS—and gives voice to the remarkable women at the forefront of this change.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        October 12, 2015
        Zoepf, a journalist who has covered the Middle East for the New York Times, fluidly merges memoir with reportage while showing the Arab world from a unique perspective: that of an American woman who managed to win uncommonly intimate access to urban Muslim women in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates between 2004 and 2011. Zoepf’s Arabic, along with her “glimpses behind closed doors” of women’s spaces, lends authority to her lucid accounts of Islamic history, practices, and controversies. Though she covers some widely publicized events, such as the 2007 “honor killing” of a Damascus woman and the 1990 protests in which Riyadh women defied Saudi law by driving cars, her focus is on day-to-day aspects of women’s lives: the showfa (the “viewing,” literally, of a newly engaged Saudi woman), the hijab, the Qubaisiate (a fundamentalist women’s prayer group), the difficulties of finding employment, and the obsession with female chastity (including forcible “virginity testing”). Mindful that “strange as I’d found it at first, life in this women-only world must have its own consolations,” her work acknowledges that some women accept and find value in strict traditional mores. In her absorbing, window-opening book, Zoepf reveals the variety of women’s lives and interests away from political headlines and conventional stereotypes, and their power, often by small steps, to transform their world.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        October 15, 2015
        New America Foundation fellow Zoepf attempts to make "the case for small gestures" by extremely circumscribed Arab women. The author spent 2004 to 2007 as a New York Times stringer in Syria and Lebanon, learning Arabic and befriending many women and hearing their stories. Later, she interviewed Egyptian women who participated in the Arab Spring in 2011. Her work displays wonderfully moving detail and subtlety, and therein lies the problem regarding her thesis that these sheltered, protected, infantilized young women are somehow closet feminists. The more she delves into the lives of these women--revealing the segregated restaurants, cluelessness about marrying the men chosen for them, inability (for Saudi women) to drive or attend sporting events or do anything without a "guardian's" permission or presence, subjection to horrific "virginity tests" and even murder to preserve the "honor" of their male relatives--the more deeply and irreversibly oppressed they will seem to Western readers. With every enlightened moment Zoepf introduces--e.g., that many of the Saudi teenagers at a dessert party were studying law--the other shoe drops: in this case, that Saudi Arabia only licensed its first female lawyers in October 2013. The author chronicles many shocking moments. In "The Most Promiscuous Virgins in the World," she investigates Lebanese party girls and the granting of anal and oral sex (but not vaginal) in order to attract the small pool of available males. She also looks at the unbelievable reasoning behind one Syrian woman's wearing of the hijab: to keep men from becoming so aroused that they abuse a child. In the author's experience, the women who did rebel--e.g., the Saudi driving protesters of 1990, the participants in the Tahrir Square rallies--often paid a terrible price. Though Zoepf demonstrates a few instances of how "small reform turns out to be even more transformational than its most devoted proponents could have predicted," the evolving "personal agency" she witnessed is almost too subtle (yet) to be perceived.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        December 1, 2015
        As a journalist based in the Middle East in the years after 9/11, Zoepf was in a unique position to observe the political and cultural zeitgeist emerging from the Arab world. Young women in particular were the targets of some of the most vocal commentary. Hidden behind veils, their actions and attitudes inaccessible and, perhaps, inexplicable by Western standards, Arab women were perceived as being pawns and puppets of a controlling, patriarchal society. Based on interviews and conversations with women in five Arab countries, including the hot spots of Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia as well as Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, Zoepf profiles women at the forefront of the headline-grabbing Arab Spring rebellion and behind the scenes of quieter yet equally intense societal changes. Zoepf immersed herself in Arab culture, attending classes, parties, and all-girl gab sessions, to create this unparalleled portrait of what life is like for young Arab women and how their influence on regional and global issues is not to be discounted.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        January 1, 2016

        Zoepf's first book following years of reporting in the Middle East provides a unique look into the issues concerning basic women's rights in that region. She offers a poignant overview of the small but powerful measures taken by individual women and women's groups in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia to forward some semblance of personal rights and delivers an intimate look into the subtly changing attitudes toward the roles of women in these societies. Zoepf's background, having come of age as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, allows her to offer a perspective that is often difficult to find among Western critics of Middle Eastern human rights issues. Given the ubiquitous nature of human rights violations, works focused on these topics tend to be strong, resounding cries for immediate change interlaced with substantial horror stories relating the realities of the atrocious contraventions of human rights. The author recognizes that social change, especially where religion is at the center of the discussion, is slow moving and requires delicacy in its efforts. Through interviews, conversations, and a general immersion, Zoepf shares the stories of these individuals who are working toward social change. VERDICT A must-read for anyone with an interest in the modern Middle East, women's rights, or human rights. Zoepf's refreshing view presents an easy-to-read, well-paced volume that will have readers looking forward to her next work. [See Prepub Alert, 7/13/15.]--Brenna Smeall, Bellevue, NE

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 1, 2015

        Even as ISIS and the Taliban steal headlines, Zoepf argues that women in the Arab world are not as monolithically suppressed as many of us imagine. Young Arab women outnumber men in universities, for instance, and some are successfully delaying marriage to pursue careers. New America Foundation fellow Zoepf, a stringer for the New York Times in Syria and Lebanon subsequently with the paper's Baghdad bureau, knows her stuff.

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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For more than a decade, Katherine Zoepf has lived in or traveled throughout the Arab world, reporting on the lives of women, whose role in the region has never been more in flux. Only a generation ago, female adolescence as we know it in the West did not exist in the Middle East. There were only children and married women. Today, young Arab women outnumber men in universities, and a few are beginning to face down religious and social tradition in order to live independently, to delay marriage, and to pursue professional goals. Hundreds of thousands of devout girls and women are attending Qur’anic schools—and using the training to argue for greater rights and freedoms from an Islamic perspective. And, in 2011, young women helped to lead antigovernment protests in the Arab Spring. But their voices have not been heard. Their stories have not been told.

In Syria, before its civil war, she documents a complex society in the midst of soul searching about its place in...
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