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Thousand Sisters Paperback – 11 Aug 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (11 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580053599
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580053594
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.2 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 812,311 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"I can't imagine a more perfect book for arousing the power of American women (or women and men everywhere) to rush to the defense of our Congolese sisters. Lisa Shannon, runner extraordinaire, has with this forthright and readable book, crossed the finish line into the way of life the remainder of our time on this planet demands: she has entered the land of courage, compassion, and a fierce determination to stand by those who need us, where everyone understands they must be--our lives depend on it--a citizen of the world. -Alice Walker "While reporting for the Oprah Show , I called the Democratic Republic of the Congo the 'worst place on earth.' When Lisa Shannon saw my report, rather than turn her back, she took it on. Her commitment to the victims of one of the world's greatest tragedies exemplifies the best in humanity. Her powerful story is an inspiration to all of those who think their voice is too small to change lives." -Lisa Ling, journalist "Congo is usually portrayed as hopeless and its women as victims. Lisa Shannon shines a spotlight on the hope that emanates so stubbornly from this complex country, primarily through her loving portrayal of her Congolese sisters. Instead of victims, these women are determined survivors, three-dimensional human beings who deserve our respect and solidarity." -John Prendergast, co-founder of The Enough Project, and co-author of Not On Our Watch with Don Cheadle "As global consumers we all share some responsibility for the tragedy in the Congo. Lisa Shannon's riveting, personal narrative lays bare the human cost of that relationship, through a personal journey like no other into the heart of the Congo." -Robin Wright, actress and activist "I wish that every woman and man in America were as stirred to outrage and action as Lisa Shannon by what is happening in today's Congo. In her heartfelt and very personal way, she shines some light on a place of great suffering that the world has too long ignored." -Adam Hochschild, author, iKing Leopold's Ghost and iBury the Chains --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very sad in some parts but worth reading. We need to familiarize ourselves with these atrocities if we are ever going to end them.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By GC13 on 7 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a very easy read (although disturbing if you are not already aware of the brutality of Africa), on what is an incredibly complex issue. Lisa's expereinces reflect those of many others who have travelled this area of the continent and you are left with the question of whether we can make a difference. The answer, of course, is yes to those few that you can help, but the region is so corrupt that the big picture is unlikely to ever change. Belgium tried it and failed! But, to hear of the minor successes achieved does at least gives us all hope that some people can benefit from a more direct approach to giving.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 99 reviews
122 of 126 people found the following review helpful
Not for the faint of heart 6 Mar. 2010
By LMS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Before reviewing this book let me say that this book is not for people with weak stomachs. The atrocities the woman of the Congo face are described in graphic detail. Things like rape, torture, murder, and arson are common place. This book is based on the true stories of real women. It is not fiction. The horrors described in this book are all too real.

This is definitely not a book you read for pleasure. Honestly, there were times when I wondered if I would be able to make it through the entire book. But I toughed it out and am very glad I did. The Congolese women are amazing. They have such resilience and courage. As an American woman, I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to live as these women do. Congo truly is one of the worst places in the world to be a woman. Danger and death are every day occurrences. The author doesn't just throw her money at the problem and keep a distance. She goes right in there and witnesses the atrocities first hand. She gets a much deeper understanding of what Congolese women live with every day. You can tell that she truly wants to make a difference in the lives of these women. Her interactions with them are inspiring. But Lisa also wrestles with intense feelings of helplessness, frustration, and even anger at times. She is very generous with both her time and money, but sometimes, the women seem ungrateful and try to take advantage of her. In one situation, Lisa offers to help a woman pay for food and medical care. Her children are clearly starving and her son needs medical attention. But the woman also asks Lisa for money to buy sugar for her tea. She asks Lisa for this several times. Finally Lisa answers "You can go without sugar in your tea." There are several other instances like this in the book as well.

Here in America we are conditioned to believe that the solution to over problem is money. Are financial donations needed. Of course! But if that is the only help we are willing to give, then we fall far short. This book clearly illustrates that money is not the only solution to this problem. In fact, money often causes more problems than it solves. We need more people who are willing to get dirty and to really spend time, with no agenda with these women. Time to learn their stories and get to know them as people. These women have been victimized in horrific ways, but there is more to them than that. This is a book that will definitely make you think. It will also make you much for thankful for the lives we have in America. This book is well-written, but the subject matter makes it a difficult read nonetheless.

I approached this book the same way I watched the movie "Hotel Rwanda" which deals with the atrocities of the Rwandan Genocide and how the international community chose to look the other way at not get involved. This book and that movie are not intended to be entertaining. Their real intent is to inform and educate. You cannot read a book or watch a movie like that and not be touched. You will be changed. Hotel Rwanda and this book forever strip away the claim of ignorance. They will stay with you long after the film ends and long after the last page is turned. Reading and watching things like this is not pleasant. But films and books like this are important.

If this book were a movie, it would definitely be rated R. For that reason, I would not recommend this book for young teens or adults who scare easily. This is a book that could give you nightmares. But if you are able to handle the subject matter, this book is definitely a recommended read. But again, it is not for everyone. Some people can handle things like this, others can't. For myself, I am very glad I read this book.
51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Moving, gut-wrenching, and thoroughly inspiring. 13 Feb. 2010
By Adam Khan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lisa Shannon tells her story from start to finish in chronological order -- how she first heard about Congo's plight, how she figured out what to do about it, how she trained for her first run, her eventual "adventures" in Congo -- and she weaves other nuggets of information into the narrative seamlessly, keeping it non-stop interesting.

For example, as she flies to Rwanda, she tells some essential Rwandan history. It fits perfectly at that place in the story, making it effortless to read. A real pleasure to read.

The writing is good, very free-flowing. The story moves along at a good pace.

Shannon is an inspiration. She has no experience in any of this, but she does it anyway because it needs to be done. When she started out, she knew nothing about starting a movement, fundraising, long-distance running, lobbying senators, or doing interviews. But she has a goal, a worthy purpose, and moves toward her goal, learning as she goes.

"It's raining? I run anyway," she writes. "I'm in pain? I run anyway. I'm tired? I run anyway. I'm busy? I run anyway." And then she gives an insight into how she stays motivated -- an insight we can apply to our own worthy purposes. "When it all seems too much, I try to picture the women living in eastern Congo. Their faces are always a blank, but I try to imagine what they are doing right now. They can't pick up a cell phone and call a cab to take them out of the war zone. So I keep going."

She didn't try to learn it all first. She just got out there and started making something happen, doing what she could where she was with what she had.

It seems to me the only thing that really means anything is making a difference to other people. With her hard work and courage, Shannon makes a difference. This book will inspire others to follow that path.

So I hope A Thousand Sisters becomes a runaway bestseller. The more hearts it reaches, the better.
63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
what the author has done is amazing. the book is not. 29 Aug. 2010
By julie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was really excited to read this book having lived in east africa for a few years and having close friends who have spent thier lives there. I found it very very hard to finish. What the author did is wonderful. To raise so much money for the Congolese women is completely selfless. But the book itself seemed almost self serving. I felt like not much was told about the women, it was more about her. I was also VERY put off by how she seemed to say something negative about every other person who was trying to help. She seemed to come across as if she was the only person with the right attitude. It just wasn't for me.
38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Self-absorbed, whiney, ignorant, cruel... 6 July 2011
By Zip - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was expecting a book about the women of the Congo. Instead, I got a book about a white, middle class, American woman with no understanding of her own privilege, and no compassion for the plight of others. Here's some specific reasons why you absolutely should not waste your time reading this book:

(1) When I finished the book, I knew more about the author's failed relationship and taste in men than about the Congo. This was rectified by a 30 minute Google search (seriously, 30 minutes on the internet and you will know more about the plight of Congolese women than after finishing the entire book, hands down).

(2) The author has no cultural sensitivity or understanding of how to deal with her Congolese "sisters," so I spent most of the book thinking "she didn't - oh no, she wouldn't - not even she could be so stupid - no, no no..." When she asked a room full of traumatized women who didn't know her or each other, in front of a camera, to raise their hands if they'd been raped, that was bad. But then when she endangered her entire entourage by missing a boat because she wanted a woman (who was clearly traumatized and didn't want to) to list the names of her ten dead children for the camera, that was worse. Then, when she spent a day trying to track down three children who'd been raped by the army so they could talk about it in front of the camera, that was pretty bad, and trying to send away "the men"," including their father and brother but not her male translator, made it worse. The list of thoughtlessly cruel incidents is endless. She spent her whole five weeks in the Congo voyeuristically tracking down the "worst," "most traumatic" stories she could find, and then trying to film sound clips from the women who suffered through them, WITHOUT EVEN ONCE asking herself how that made them feel.

(3) The author is seriously self-absorbed about it. Some women were willing to talk to her, generally because they thought she'd give them something for it - money, help - and she was offended by this. She wanted them to talk to her out of friendship. When she'd never met them, and just waltzed into their country and war zone without doing enough basic research to figure out how to ask them politely.

(4) The author was terribly entitled about everything. She wanted tours of NGOs, busy people's time and resources, and a lot of them gave it to her - but a lot of them didn't. She didn't thank the first, and she was offended by the second. It was like she didn't understand that everyone wasn't a tourist - that most people in the Congo are busy working.

I could go on forever, but I won't bother. I'm sorry I bought this book, and I rarely say that, even about a bad read. At the least, do yourself a favor and get it out of the library so you won't regret the $10 later.
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
The author has no idea how to operate in an unstable country 23 Jun. 2011
By pinkpolkadots - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have only gotten about halfway through the book at it is making me so mad I can barely finish it. The author wants to help these women as part of her own midlife crisis. I cannot believe the way she acts when she visits the Congo. She has no cultural awareness or any clue of how to act halfway appropriate around rape victims. She asks difficult and probing questions in an insensitive manner does not give any thought to the difficulty in translating complex questions to women with low education levels. I am currently at the part of the book where she makes everyone wait in a dangerous village when a port back across the lake will shortly be closing. Everyone hurries her but she simply refuses to leave until she has asked all her inappropriate and rude questions to one of her "sisters". She seems to want the reader to be impressed by all the danger she is in from rebel forces, yet she is only in danger because she takes zero safety precautions. She also talks badly of all others in the country to do good work, especially this "Kelly" person who she falsely assumed was her travel partner. After that miscommunication, she talks crap about Kelly for the rest of the book. The author is childish and misguided in her ways. Perhaps she should have prepared herself in the areas of reporting, cultural sensitivity, and navigating a country with an unstable government instead of recklessly going on an "adventure" in which she clearly desires to be the "hero" of the Congolese women.
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