About the book

Beyond the Call follows three women through combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and documents one officer’s relationship with Jamila Abbas, an Afghan feminist who was responsible for helping women and girls escape damaging relationships and start life over again, away from the reach of the Taliban. Jamila’s life was threatened many times — her women’s center was blown up by the Taliban and her husband was beheaded by the Mujahedeen. That group also raided her home, threatening her life and the lives of her children (an excerpt of that incident is below).

Follow the progress of Maj. Maria Rodriguez, Capt. Johanna Smoke and Sgt. Liz Carlin as they survived bomb blasts, dealt with PTSD after they returned home and ultimately did for the wars in the Middle East what their male counterparts couldn’t: They made progress for America by helping Afghan women and girls improve their lives in spite of terrorist efforts to oppress women. And, in the process, female engagement teams collected intelligence that was vital to progress.



The men burst through the front door of Jamila’s home. They tore apart her kitchen, ripped up floor boards in the sleeping area and turned over what little furniture she had — damaging her windows and the tall wooden pillars that supported her roof and loosely divided the small, one-room house. When they found nothing, one of the men grabbed her oldest son, dragged him outside of the house and tied him to the back of one of the horses the insurgents used to ride through their village. The man commanded the animal to run. Jamila’s boy fell to the ground. Dust kicked up around his ten-year-old body as he kicked his legs, flipping himself over so that his chest faced the sky. The Mujahedeen soldier stopped only to threaten to drag the boy to his death unless Jamila gave them the weapons they were looking for.



Helmand Province, Afghanistan, November 2010

Sheena Adams felt the blast.

She felt the truck fly through the air and hit the ground, bouncing several times like a bucking horse as it ripped in half. The butt of her weapon slammed against the center of her forehead and multiple thirty-pound ammunition cans battered her Kevlar helmet as her head quickly jerked forward, then back. The mine resistant vehicle (MRAP) stopped moving.

Adams looked to her left and saw that the back of the vehicle was empty. In the time it took her to free herself, most of the other Marines who had ridden in the convoy’s third vehicle had gotten out. Out of the corner of her right eye, she could see the top of a helmet. She wasn’t sure, until she saw the helmet move, whether the camouflage was covering someone who was living or dead. She heard a groan from the front of the vehicle. It was the gunner.

“You OK?” Adams called out.

“I can’t move!”


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