In January 2006, after the Republic of Liberia had been racked by fourteen years of brutal civil conflict, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf—Africa's "Iron Lady"—was sworn in as president, an event that marked a tremendous turning point in the history of the West African nation. This is her personal memoir, a story that leads from her childhood to her amazing rise to power, an inspirational tale that encourages women everywhere to shatter the proverbial glass ceiling, and pursue the highest leadership roles previously deemed unattainable.
It comes as a surprise to me that this book doesn’t get adopted more often. As a sophomore in college, I watched Pray the Devil Back to Hell, the award-winning documentary about the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement, which led to the end of the Liberian Civil War, and the eventual election of Sirleaf as Africa’s first woman president. Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee (the movement’s organizer) won Nobel Peace prizes for their work, which started as a Muslim-Christian female prayer coalition, and expanded to other non-violent protests (including a sex strike). Sirleaf’s life story is truly as remarkable as the title suggests, overcoming abuse, imprisonment, and exile to become a powerful political advocate for social justice and peace. Click here if you’d like to read more about her journey in her own words.