Our Bodies, Their Battlefield: What War Does to Women by Christina Lamb - review by Joanna Bourke

Joanna Bourke

Victims without Borders

Our Bodies, Their Battlefield: What War Does to Women


William Collins 416pp £20 order from our bookshop

Some books are painful to read. This one is guaranteed to break hearts. It tells the stories of dozens of girls and women who have been raped in conflicts throughout the world. Readers will have to brace themselves for an onslaught of pain, terror and anguish. Female suffering is exposed and emotions are laid bare.

Christina Lamb is a distinguished reporter with over thirty years’ experience as a foreign correspondent. She knows how to evoke colours, sounds and smells; she is also acutely sensitive to the individual cadences in the speech of the women she interviews – their hesitations and colloquialisms, as well as the urgency with which they seek to find people willing (and able) to listen to their life stories. Lamb is a close listener who knows how to frame their accounts in ways that will elicit the desired response from her readers. That response is despair.

Anger, too, plays a large part in this book. Lamb is critical about the state of war reportage, which often ends up being ‘men writing about men’. The lack of women’s stories in war reporting is not only due to the fact that most people don’t want to hear about

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