Evening Standard's January 2019 Book of the Week
The gripping story of one woman's war against ISIS on the frontlines of Syria.
Joanna Palani made headlines across the world when her role fighting ISIS in the Syrian conflict was revealed. She is one of a handful of western women who joined the international recruits to the Kurdish forces in the region and this is the first time her extraordinary story has been told.
Inspired by the Arab Spring, Joanna left behind her student life in Copenhagen and travelled to the Middle East in order to join the YPJ - the all-female brigade of the Kurdish militia in Syria. After undergoing considerable military training, including as a saboteur and sniper, Joanna served as a YPJ fighter over several years and took part in the brutal siege of Kobani. Despite her heroism, she was taken in to custody on her return to Denmark for breaking laws designed to stop its citizens from joining ISIS, making her the first person to be jailed for joining the international coalition.
In this raw and unflinching memoir, Joanna not only provides an eye-witness account of this devastating war but also reveals the personal cost of the battles she has fought on and off the frontlines.
Joanna Palani played a variety of roles for the YPJ - the female battalion of the Syrian Kurdish group YPG - the Peshmerga and as part of coalition forces, including the SDF, supported by US and UK special forces. Her last position in the YPJ was in a sniper unit.