Malala Yousafzai, Benazir Bhutto and More: Books by Female Trailblazers
In the year since the attack that nearly claimed her life, Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai has spent every available moment raising her voice for change. Propped up with pillows in her hospital bed days after the shooting, she bravely addressed reporters. Eight months later, she delivered a speech at the U.N. Now, she's speaking out again to promote her new memoir, “I Am Malala,” which tells of her dream to revitalize her homeland—and the world—through education. “My goal is not to win a Nobel Peace Prize,” she said recently, though she's a strong contender for the award. “My goal is to get peace and my goal is to see the education of every child.” For further inspiration, we've rounded up five other books by courageous women who survived tragedy to tell their stories.
Like Malala, Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto wasn’t silenced by violence. After her father, former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was ousted in a coup and hanged in 1979, Bhutto was intermittently jailed and put in solitary confinement, where she suffered incredible abuse, as she describes in her memoirs “Daughter of Destiny” and “Reconciliation.” Despite it all, Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 1988, was elected prime minster, and enacted changes that improved the lives of the Pakistani people. An outspoken human rights advocate, she was assassinated in 2007. But, her legacy lives on: In July, Malala wore one of Bhutto’s scarves on her trip to the U.N.
Reporting the news from dangerous locales is one of journalism's noblest pursuits. In 2009, television reporter Lisa Ling’s journalist sister, Laura, was covering a story near North Korea when she and her partner, Euna Lee, were detained and convicted of illegally crossing the country’s borders. After two months in jail, they were pardoned and released. The Ling sisters recall the horrific experience in their joint memoir, “Somewhere Inside.”
Gabby Giffords had been a rising star in the House of Representatives before she was shot in January 2011. The attack nearly killed her: For weeks, Giffords lay in a coma, and after she revived, had to relearn how to walk and talk. She resigned from Congress a year later, but vowed never to give up fighting for the rights of others. Today, she and her husband, astronaut captain Mark Kelly, have made gun control their life’s work. In 2011, they released a moving memoir about their relationship and Giffords’s recovery entitled, “Gabby.”
Humanitarian aid worker Jessica Buchanan moved to Africa after college to teach children how to avoid landmines. But in 2011, Buchanan found herself at the center of an international tug-of-war when she and a fellow aid worker were kidnapped by Somali pirates and held for ransom. Held captive a total of 93 days, Buchanan and her colleague Poul Thisted were starved and tortured. She was freed following a daring Navy SEAL rescue, and today is raising a son with her husband outside Washington, D.C. She relives her harrowing capture in her memoir, “Impossible Odds.”
After her husband’s 1968 assassination, Coretta Scott King never gave up his civil rights fight. In 1983, following years of advocacy, she got the government to establish Martin Luther King, Jr’s January 15 birthday as a federal holiday. Throughout the 1980s, she also spoke out against apartheid, traveling to South Africa in 1986 to meet with first lady Winnie Mandela. Her efforts won her several prestigious awards, including India’s Gandhi Peace Prize. While she died in 2006, her memoir, “My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr.,” remains a classic.