Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS

Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS

An account of thirteen women who joined, endured, and, in some cases, escaped life in the Islamic State—based on years of immersive reporting by a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Among the many books trying to understand the terrifying rise of ISIS, none has given voice to the women in the organization; but women were essential to the establishment of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's caliphate.

Responding to promises of female empowerment and social justice, and calls to aid the plight of fellow Muslims in Syria, thousands of women emigrated from the United States and Europe, Russia and Central Asia, from across North Africa and the rest of the Middle East to join the Islamic State. These were the educated daughters of the middle-class as well as working-class drifters and desolate housewives, and they set up makeshift clinics and schools for the Islamic homeland they envisioned. Guest House for Young Widows charts the different ways women were recruited, inspired, or compelled to join the militants and how all found rebellion or community in political Islam.

It wasn't long before the militants exposed themselves as little more than violent criminals, more obsessed with power than the tenets of Islam, and the women of ISIS were stripped of any agency, perpetually widowed and remarried, and ultimately trapped in a brutal, lawless society. The fall of the caliphate only brought new challenges to women no state wanted to reclaim.

Title:Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    Guest House for Young Widows: Among the Women of ISIS Reviews

  • Petra-X

    Good points: great title and the author writes well. But she writes from the point of view of extreme negativity towards America and Israel. The author loses no opportunity to display her hatred of Is...

  • Diane S ?

    ISIS, Syria. They came from everywhere, Libya, Tunisia, Great Britain Germany, these young women came to join a new group that was supposedly creating a new state, a state where being Muslim was accep...

  • Paige

    This work is as described: the stories of thirteen women from various countries and backgrounds who become women of ISIS. Their heart-wrenching accounts attest the weight on Muslim feminism and gender...

  • Louise

    The strength of this book is the women – the portraits of their lives before, during and after their time with ISIS. Yes, there are “guest houses for widows" but, despite the title, they only get ...

  • Rincey

    3.5 stars - The author does a great job of showing how and why these women would choose to leave their families behind and become radicalized I read this for round 1 of the booktube prize. You can see...

  • Olive

    I discuss this book in my video covering round 1 of the 2020 Booktube prize here:

  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    This was a well-researched and engagingly written look at why young women from many Western countries were persuaded to move to Syria and join ISIS. Like many extremist groups, young and marginalized ...

  • Donna Davis

    Those of us in the United States don’t have much of a window on the women of ISIS, and I thought this title might help me understand them better. In some ways this proves true, but in the end, I cou...

  • SheAintGotNoShoes

    A well written easy to read book that tells the stories of 13 different teenagers and women from various countries who left their homes and lives to live in Syria and be part of the caliphate.While th...

  • Amanda Mae

    There is some really fascinating and sad stories in this book, but I found the narrative flow a little too muddled. I also got a little confused with who was who at different points, but that may have...