In the summer of 2014, hundreds of Islamic State (IS) militants fanned out through the Sinjar region of northern Syria, the ancestral home of the Yazidi people, murdering many of the able-bodied men and dragging off many of the women and girls to be ‘slaves’. By the time I arrived in Sinjar five months later, almost all international reporting of events there, to the annoyance of many locals, had been reduced to nakedly voyeuristic stories about rape. A good many of the Yazidi women I met had indeed been raped, but many others had not; beyond the tabloid headlines the underlying story was one of simple political economy. By distributing Yazidi women to its supporters as booty, who could then be sold on the open market and back to their families for around $20,000 each, IS was plugging a hole in its finances, and turning local Sunni Muslims and Yazidis against each other.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
'Only in Britain, perhaps, could spy chiefs – conventionally viewed as masters of subterfuge – be so highly regarded as ethical guides.'
In this month's Bookends, @AdamCSDouglas looks at the curious life of Henry Labouchere: a friend of Bram Stoker, 'loose cannon', and architect of the law that outlawed homosexual activity in Britain.
'We have all twenty-nine of her Barsetshire novels, and whenever a certain longing reaches critical mass we read all twenty-nine again, straight through.'
Patricia T O'Conner on her love for Angela Thirkell. (£)