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'A masterpiece and a masterclass in investigative journalism' Christina Lamb Sunday TimesOn 17 October 2013 teenage sisters Ayan and Leila Juma left their family home near Oslo seemingly as usual Later that day they sent an email to their unsuspecting parents confessing they were on their way to Syria They had been planning the trip for months in secretÅsne Seierstad working closely with the family followed the story through its many dramatic twists and turns This is in part a story about Syria But most of all it is a story of what happens to apparently ordinary people when their lives are turned upside down by conflict and tragedy'Meticulously documented full of drama this is a tale fluently told and a thriller as well' Kate Adie Literary Review'Åsne Seierstad is the supreme non fiction writer of her generation Two Sisters isn't only the story of how a pair of teenage girls became radicalised but an unsparing portrait of our own society of its failings and its joys' Luke Harding'A masterwork Brilliantly conceived scrupulously reported and beautifully written this book is compulsive reading' Jon Lee Anderson'A masterpiece and a masterclass in investigative journalism' Christina Lamb Sunday TimesOn 17 October 2013 teenage sisters Ayan and Leila Juma left their family home near Oslo seemingly as usual Later that day they sent an email to their unsuspecting parents confessing they were on their way to Syria They had been planning the trip for months in secretÅsne Seierstad working closely with the family followed the story through its many dramatic twists and turns This is in part a story about Syria But most of all it is a story of what happens to apparently ordinary people when their lives are turned upside down by conflict and tragedy'Meticulously documented full of drama this is a tale fluently told and a thriller as well' Kate Adie Literary Review'Åsne Seierstad is the supreme non fiction writer of her generation Two Sisters isn't only the story of how a pair of teenage girls became radicalised but an unsparing portrait of our own society of its failings and its joys' Luke Harding'A masterwork Brilliantly conceived scrupulously reported and beautifully written this book is compulsive reading' Jon Lee Anderson'A masterpiece and a masterclass in investigative journalism' Christina Lamb Sunday TimesOn 17 October 2013 teenage sisters Ayan and Leila Juma left their family home near Oslo seemingly as usual Later that day they sent an email to their unsuspecting parents confessing they were on their way to Syria They had been planning the trip for months in secretÅsne Seierstad working closely with the family followed the story through its many dramatic twists and turns This is in part a story about Syria But most of all it is a story of what happens to apparently ordinary people when their lives are turned upside down by conflict and tragedy'Meticulously documented full of drama this is a tale fluently told and a thriller as well' Kate Adie Literary Review'Åsne Seierstad is the supreme non fiction writer of her generation Two Sisters isn't only the story of how a pair of teenage girls became radicalised but an unsparing portrait of our own society of its failings and its joys' Luke Harding'A masterwork Brilliantly conceived scrupulously reported and beautifully written this book is compulsive reading' Jon Lee Anderson


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  1. says:

    In October 2013 two teenage girls left Oslo and went to Syria to join Isis This account examines the circumstances surrounding their flight and the consequences which followed Asne Seierstad used all her talents as investigator and writer to provide an enthralling tale It has some limitationsShe describes her approach as “literary journalism” The facts do not speak for themselves but are arranged and presented in what is an enthralling narrative But is reality messier than that?Her research was thorough She met with family members friends and relatives She approached leaders of the Muslim community in Norway as well as school teachers social workers and indeed the security services She visited Turkey She makes particular use of social media and cites at length on line conversations and Facebook postings both from the sisters and about themHowever she never met the girls nor did she have any contact with them Other people also refused to cooperate with her Then there is a particular problem with the person who provided her with most information the girls’ father Sadiq Unfortunately he shows himself to be less than honest and happy to lie when it suits him – to the authorities to the press to friends We have no reason to suppose he has told Seierstad the whole truth eitherMost readers will hope to find out why the girls enlisted in jihad but will approach this with a definite view of ISIS In the west ISIS is viewed as a swamp of everything that is vile and ignorant – the absolute “other” Seierstad provides enough testimony to brutality indeed but she also makes plain that not all the blood spilt in the sands of Syria dripped from the swords of Islamists – in fact not even closeThe author does not discuss parallels in other times and places The book is indeed long and detailed enough already but a reviewer might highlight possibilities The choice of dark clothing and gloomy fashion is a feature of “goth” culture – you might say this is trivial by comparison but then Columbine? Closer echoes are to be found in the young female disciples of the Manson family who were manipulated by men and wallowed in blood In the 1930s many young men and women fought in Spain as part of the International Brigades prepared to kill and expecting to die The girls own reason was quite explicit and often repeated – that Europe intended to wipe out their religion and believers had to seek a safe haven in a new home That is plainly not uniqueThis is a powerful book It raises many questions and issues Why have refugees from Somalia in particular failed to integrate in Norwegian society? Is radical Islam a front for misogyny and patriarchy? Is the west ultimately responsible for the unholy hell of Syria and Iraq? What are the boundaries to free speech and tolerance in a democratic society? And – not least – what happens next? Two Sisters adds much to academic political studies and reports It needs to be read as carefully as it was written