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A woman - or rather, a rumpled bundle of cloth, but we've all seen eugh footage of Afghanistan by w to realise that it's a woman - is dumped off the back of a truck and shoved forward...A Taliban soldier steps up and puts the barrel of his gun against her head. She twists to look up at him, then huddles down. At point blank range he shoots her in the head. She collapses. A woman strolls over to the corpse and fusses with the Burqa - better to see the dead woman's blood and brains on the turf than her bare ankles...The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)- a brave grass roots underground organisation - is one bright spot in a dark and desperate situation. Cheryl Benard is t a writer who has discovered RAWA, or someone searching for something more to say about Afghanistan. Rather, she has been part of the resistance efforts for more than a decade. Her husband, Zalmay Khalilzad, is himself an Afghan refugee which originally led Cheryl to become involved. Today, Zal is a special advisor to President George W. Bush and is a member of the National Security Council under Condeleeza Rice and is based in the White House. The intimate kwledge Cheryl has of RAWA is simply unparalleled. Originally a salon for Kabul's middle class lady intellectuals, the organisation w has several thousand official members in its struggle against the complete subordination of women in Afghanistan. Veiled Courage describes the inside operations of this extraordinary movement - how ordinary women function in such an extreme environment and how they deal with danger and fear. As the first post-modern resistance group, RAWA uses the same archaic instruments (the veil) and high tech support (the internet, digital video cameras) as its enemies, the Taliban and Al-Qaada. It also operates secretly with a complex decentralised structure of cells with an inclination to strong, charismatic leadership. This is a shocking, gripping and inspirational read. Simply unputdownable! CRITICAL ACCLAIM FOR VEILED COURAGE: These are dispatches from a hidden war, memoirs of a struggle whose heroics rival and deserve to be as celebrated as those of the French Resistance or the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Cheryl Benard's research among unimaginably courageous Afghani women is by turns horrifying, enlightening and inspiring. -Geraldine Brooks, author of Year of Wonders and Nine Parts Desire. For too long Afghan women have been depicted as merely the victims of war, repression and extremist ideologies. Now for the first time we hear the voices of those Afghan women who for years have silently stood up to oppression and resisted. Cheryl Benard has done a major service to Afghan women and women everywhere by letting us hear the caged birds sing. An ermously important book as the world sets out to help Afghanistan rebuild. -Ahmed Rashid, author of The Taliban The war in Afghanistan that followed the September 11 attacks brought home to many people the fact that women's equality is central to the freedom that we enjoy in the modern world and is t something to be taken for granted. This book traces the incredible courage of a group of Afghan women who struggled for that freedom long before the rest of the world learned to pay attention. -Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History and the Last Man