Library Journal Review
In this autobiography, set mostly in the fall of 2014, Iran-born Kurdish journalist Azad describes being swept up in the chaotic events of the Syrian civil war as it spread into his home region of Rojava and its chief city of Kobanî. Azad relays how he became a sniper for Kurdish forces opposing ISIS, recounting in impressive detail his grim work as he fought from house to house, street to street, and, at times, room to room against ISIS troops besieging Kobanî. Azad's tale is not for the fainthearted, as he painfully relates through his own work what war is at its most basic level: death and carnage. For Americans who live comfortably in safe dwellings, Azad's story demonstrates that for many in the Middle East, there is little safety and comfort. VERDICT A remarkable account of a devastating, ongoing conflict; for most collections.-Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Under his nom de guerre, which means "freedom" in Kurdish, the author recounts his wartime experiences as a sniper in this gripping memoir. As a teen in 2002, the Kurdish-Iranian Azad deserted from the Iranian army to avoid being forced to fight against his fellow Kurds; he was granted asylum and citizenship in the U.K. and worked as a journalist. When the Syrian civil war broke out a decade later, he moved there to serve as a social worker; after ISIS made incursions into Kurdish territory, he volunteered to join the People's Protection Units, or YPG, the mostly-Kurdish volunteer militia, and was trained and equipped to be a sniper. Between September 2014 and January 2015, 2,000 Kurdish people fought 12,000 ISIS fighters in the areas surrounding KobanAr, defeating ISIS and creating the autonomous Kurdish province of Rojava. Azad shot 250 enemy soldiers; his sniper team, he writes, killed almost one-sixth of the enemy forces, "street by street, house by house, and man by man." While many sniper memoirs focus on the almost spiritual aspects of the craft, Azad takes a humbler, more earthbound stance: "Any competent soldier can learn the basics of sniping in an hour." He is more passionate in discussing the progressive ideals of the YPG and Rojava. His story, elegantly told, will resonate long after the final ISIS fighter falls. Agent: Patrick Walsh, Pew Literary. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
*Starred Review* This memoir by a Kurdish sharpshooter, written under his movement name of Azad, about his participation on the battlefield of Kobani is simply outstanding. The Islamic State had been conquering and pillaging with impunity up to their attack on this autonomous Kurdish region of Syria during that country's civil war in 2014. Kurdish volunteer militia, both men and women, among them deadly snipers, stopped the ISIS advance and beat them back, house by house, even though they were outnumbered almost six to one. Azad brings the hellish experience of war to these pages in great detail as he shares his belief in the Kurdish revolutionary cause of gender equality, freedom, and democracy. It is this vision of a free and independent Kurdish homeland that helped sustain Azad and his comrades against the evil of ISIS and the horrors of war. He intersperses tales of his personal journey from his birthplace in Iran to England and back to Kurdistan in brief chapters between the day-to-day combat accounts. These asides are valuable components of Azad's identity, as is his discovery of the revolutionary teachings of the Kurdish intellectual known as Apo. Azad's powerful story goes far beyond news reports and will fascinate those interested in military history, current events, or the craft of sharpshooting.--James Pekoll Copyright 2019 Booklist