Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror

Shadow Lives reveals the unseen side of the ‘9/11 wars’: their impact on the wives and families of men incarcerated in Guantanamo, or in prison or under house arrest in Britain and the US. Victoria Brittain shows how these families have been made socially invisible and a convenient scapegoat for the state in order to exercise arbitrary powers under the cover of the ‘War on Terror’. 

A disturbing exposé of the perilous state of freedom and democracy in our society, the book reveals how a culture of intolerance and cruelty has left individuals at the mercy of the security services’ unverifiable accusations and punitive punishments.

Both a j’accuse and a testament to the strength and humanity of the families, Shadow Lives shows the methods of incarceration and social control being used by the British state and gives a voice to the families whose lives have been turned upside down. In doing so it raises urgent questions about civil liberties which no one can afford to ignore.

 

Review

A searching, sensitive, and wrenching account of the ordeal of the women left behind, their torment, their endurance and courage, their triumphs over the cruel “extension of prison to home.” And not least, a revealing picture of what we have allowed ourselves to become. (Noam Chomsky)

This is a window into an invisible world…a reminder that abandoning normal legal standards has serious consequences for the Rule of Law. (Helena Kennedy QC)

Victoria Brittain’s book is a uniquely powerful and moving account of the tragic consequences of policies which flout fundamental rights and the rule of law. It adds a new and deeply disturbing dimension to the story of the response to 9/11. (Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC)

The author’s extraordinary empathy gives a voice to women who have courageously endured unimaginable indignity from indefensible laws. (Louise Christian, solicitor for several Guantanamo prisoners and their families)

This is a book to make you gasp, weep, shout, but above all a book to admire: the lovely writing, the complexities made clear, the everyday heroism of survivors. It is a terrible story, beautifully told. (Beatrix Campbell)

Shadow Lives is a landmark work that takes over your heart and head. In drawing together lives scattered and devastated and made heroic by the ‘war on terror’, Victoria Brittain, one of the greatest reporters, tells us the truth about these dangerous times. (John Pilger)

 

About the Author

Victoria Brittain lived and worked as a journalist in Washington, Nairobi, Saigon, Algiers and London, and has travelled extensively in Africa and the Middle East. She worked at the Guardian for 20 years. She is author of Death of Dignity: Angola’s Civil War (1997), co-author of Moazzam Begg’s Guantanamo memoir, Enemy Combatant (2006) and author and co-author of two verbatim plays.
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