James Harkin

The Price of Freedom

Merchants of Men: How Kidnapping, Randsom and Trafficking Funds Terrorism and ISIS


Atlantic Books 288pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

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.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,
    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,