The untold story of the women who fought to defeat ISIS.

Every great story starts with an unanswerable question. The question I set out to answer with the book The Daughters of Kobani: How on earth did one of the most far-reaching experiments in women’s equality anywhere in the world get created by women who fought — and crushed — ISIS? Who were these women and how did they come to battle for women’s rights and against ISIS as America’s partner in the half-decade campaign to stop the Islamic State?

In 2014, the border town of Kobani became the first…


The story of America’s partners in the ISIS fight cannot be told without talking about the role of the women who led in battle against men who bought, sold and enslaved women. Talk to them and they will tell you they are not just battling ISIS, but the entire mindset that says women are worth nothing and matter none. These women signed up and refused to back down against the men of the Islamic State, and they have pressed forward to write what they call a new chapter for women, not just in Kurdish communities, but across the region. …


Remembrance: Writing Advice From An American Who Made a Difference.

In 2009 Nancy Dupree and I sat across a Kabul table filled with tea cups and a plate of poundcake she liked.

“You know what Louis said,” she told me, her white hair stacked in a bun atop her head and a wry smile on her face. “At a certain point, you just gotta put your butt in a chair and start writing.”

Louis was her husband, a renowned Afghanistan scholar with whom she had traveled the country by four-wheel drive. …


I have spent the last three years reporting, writing, and sharing a military story. A story of war. A story of love. A story of friendship. And above all, a story of unrelenting grit.

Writing Ashley’s War has showed me three things I did not fully understand before tripping across and then tackling a story America did not know, about a special operations team the country had never met.

1) “Women write about marriage, men write about war.”

Here’s something I learned in bringing Ashley’s War to readers:

Stories with two or more female characters in them are considered “women’s stories.” …


A story of friendship, courage, and valor

“You are my MOTIVATION.”

That is the first sign I saw when I walked into the bedroom in Marlboro, Ohio, that once belonged to 24-year-old Ashley White to speak with her mother Debbie. And the first sign that this was a story I had to tell. That sign led me on a journey that led to two years of reporting, thousands of miles of travel, hundreds of hours of interviews, endless cups of Coffeemate-filled gas station coffee, and a whole lot of Holiday Inn Express stays. A journey that ended in the creation of Ashley’s War, a story that chronicles…


credit: United Nations Photo via creative commons

Why the world should care about Malala — and all the girls like her, all around the world

A year ago I sat in a New York City public high school and listened to a girl from West Africa tell me about her own personal and years-long fight to stay in school.

She wanted to stay in the classroom, even go to college, but her father wanted her to marry a man from his home country and to abandon her studies in favor of becoming a wife and mother right away. …

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Author of New York Times best sellers “Ashley’s War” and “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana.” Adjunct senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations. All views mine.

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