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They Were Soldiers

How The Wounded Return From American Wars

After the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Ann Jones spent a good part of a decade there working with Afghan civilians—especially women—and writing about the impact of war on their lives: the subject of Kabul in Winter (2006). That book revealed the yawning chasm between America’s promises to Afghans and its actual performance in the country. Meanwhile, Jones was pondering another evident contradiction: between the U.S. military’s optimistic progress reports to Americans and its costly, clueless failures in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. In 2010-2011, she decided to see for herself what that “progress” in Afghanistan was costing American soldiers. She borrowed some body armor and embedded with U.S. troops. On forward operating bases she saw the row of photographs of “fallen” soldiers hung on the headquarters’ wall lengthen day by day. 

At the trauma hospital at Bagram Air Base she watched the grievously wounded carried from medevac helicopters to the emergency room and witnessed the toll that life-saving surgeries took on the doctors who performed them. She accompanied the wounded on medevac flights from Bagram to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, then on to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, and finally—for those who made it—back to all-American homes where, often enough, more troubles followed: violence against wives, girlfriends, children, and fellow soldiers; Big Pharma-induced drug addiction; murder, suicide, and the terrible sorrow of caretaker moms and dads who don’t know what happened to their kids. They Were Soldiers is a powerful account of how official American promises—this time to “Support Our Troops”—fall victim to the true costs of war.




“They Were Soldiers is an indispensable book about America’s current wars and the multiple ways they continue to wound not only the soldiers but their families and indeed the country itself. Ann Jones writes with passion and clarity about the tragedies other reporters avoid and evade.” 
—Marilyn Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945–1990 


“This is a painful odyssey. Ann Jones’s superb writing makes it possible to take it in without sugar coating. Her scene painting takes you there with compassion and without flinching—no sentimental bullshit here, no lofty pity. We fly with her in the belly of a C-17 medical evacuation from Bagram, into operating rooms of the Landstuhl European way station, more surgeries at Walter Reed, into the gymnasium for the long, determined work with prosthetics, with the physical and occupational therapists. We go with her to the homes of the families receiving the brain-injured and the psychologically and morally injured. We hear firsthand accounts by families of service members who died of their war wounds in the mind and spirit, after making it back in one piece…physically. Her breadth of vision includes even contractors, whom most dismiss from their minds and forget. Read this book. You will be a wiser and better citizen.” 
—Jonathan Shay, MD, PhD, author of Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character and Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming 


“They Were Soldiers is not easy to read, but it is beautifully written. I would warn any veterans before recommending it to them: it created a very emotional response. I want all of my family members and close friends to read this book in order to have some kind of understanding of my experience. “  


—Joyce Wagner, IVAW 


“Ann Jones’ new book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars — The Untold Story, is devastating, and almost incomprehensibly so when one considers that virtually all of the death and destruction in U.S. wars is on the other side. Statistically, what happens to U.S. troops is almost nothing.  In human terms, it’s overwhelming.” “Know a young person considering joining the military? Give them this book.” “Know a person not working to end war?  Give them this book.” 
–David Swanson, author of War is a Lie


War Is Not Over When It's Over

Women Speak Out from the Ruins of War


From the renowned authority on domestic violence, a startlingly original inquiry into the aftermath of wars and their impact on the least visible victims: women. In 2007, the International Rescue Committee, which brings emergency relief to countries in the wake of war, sought to understand what women in post-conflict zones really needed, wanted, and feared. Answers came through the point and click of a digital camera. On behalf of the IRC, Ann Jones spent a year traveling through Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East, giving cameras to women who had no other means of telling the world what war had done to their lives. 

The photography project—which moved from Liberia to the Congo to Burmese refugee camps in Thailand and points in between—quickly became a lens on the true nature of modern warfare and its consequences for the most vulnerable. As Jones hears from Iraqi wives, Karenni widows, and West African teenage girls, the definitive moments of military victory often bring little relief to civilians. Women and children remain blighted by injury, loss, and displacement. They are the most affected by the destruction of communities and social institutions. And along with peace often comes worsening violence against women, both domestic and sexual, inflicted by roving militias, brought home by men returning from the front, and taken up by civilians. Dramatic and compelling, animated by the voices of unimaginably brave and resourceful women, War Is Not Over When It’s Over shines a powerful light on the lives of people too long cast in shadow.



“Harrowing and important . . . What Jones brings to the fore here is sadly often overlooked in discussions of world politics.”

—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“ . . . there is an element of creativity, even joy, in Jones’s stories [of] bold groups of women, acting collectively, learning skills, creating independent livelihoods, showing solidarity with abused women, challenging community leaders—and sometimes laughing and dancing as they do it.”

—Cynthia Cockburn, Women’s Review of Books

“A gripping, ground-floor look at the lingering ravages of conflict in some of the deadliest contemporary war zones . . . This searing expose on war’s remnants convincingly makes the case that gender inequality may be one of the greatest threats to peace.” 

—Kirkus Reviews

“While decrying the continuing ‘post-conflict zone’ of violence against women . . . [Jones reveals] their fortitude in the direst of circumstances . . . [and] provides glimpses of hard-won triumphs.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Jones writes . . . with deep empathy, the result of a lifetime of writing, photographing and devoting herself to the plight of women who endure extreme violence . . . Her first feat . . . is to frame extreme suffering, often seen as something ‘over there’ and ‘far away,’ with immediacy for readers in their comfortable and safe homes.”

 —Angilee Shah, Zocalo


Kabul in Winter

Life Without Peace in Afghanistan


After 9/11 and the American bombing of Afghanistan that followed, Ann Jones set out for the shattered city. As a volunteer working in humanitarian aid, she hoped to help pick up the pieces; but what she learned there compelled her to take up her pen. Here is her trenchant report from inside a city struggling to rise from the ruins. Jones works among the multitude of impoverished war widows, and she helps to retrain the city’s tongue-tied high school English teachers, many of them women just emerging from the Taliban’s long confinement. 


Working in the city’s prisons for women, Jones enters a world of female outcasts: runaway girls, child brides, pariah prostitutes, cast-off wives, victims of rape. In the streets and markets, she hears Afghan views of the supposed benefits brought by the fall of the Taliban, and learns that keeping women under tight control is the norm and not the aberration of one conspicuously repressive regime. Jones unravels Afghanistan’s complicated history as proxy playground for greater powers and confronts the ways in which Afghan education, culture, and politics have repeatedly been hijacked—by Communists, Islamist extremists, and Western free marketeers—always with disastrous results. And she reveals, through small events, the big disjunctions: between U.S. promises and performance, between the new “democracy” and the still-entrenched warlords, between what’s boasted of and what is. Kabul in Winter brings alive the people and day-to-day life of a place whose future depends upon our own.




” We meet many remarkable people in this angry, eloquent book, but none more remarkable than Jones herself.”

—Harper’s Magazine  (read full article) 


“A potent and disturbing new book . . . Jones examines the dire situation of women in postwar Afghanistan. Jones, who spent much time in Kabul’s women’s prisons and schools, witnessed firsthand the effects of stunning physical and psychological abuse; the result is a book which stirred in me such uncomfortable emotions that I read it with an ever-tightening knot in my stomach and a hand flying regularly upward to cover my horrified mouth . . . Jones quotes a phrase that battered women’s shelters used in the seventies as a kind of rallying cry: ‘World peace begins at home.’ That phrase now strikes me as urgently true.” 
—Rosemary Mahoney, O, The Oprah Magazine


“Jones, a keen observer, captures her surroundings in crisp vignettes, some appalling, others quite comic. . . Kabul in Winter is . . . a work of impassioned reportage, a sympathetic observer’s damage assessment of a country torn apart . . . eloquent and persuasive.”  
—The New York Times


A “sharply observed, frequently lyrical memoir . . .”  
—The Washington Post


“. . . I felt a desire to thank Jones for shining a flashlight on a corner of human experience still so shrouded in shadow.”  
—The Christian Science Monitor


A “. . . personal story . . . of a committed Western feminist who finds herself immersed in the patriarchal customs of a tribal culture.”  
—The Baltimore Sun


“Jones gets behind the headlines.”  
—The San Francisco Chronicle


“This achingly candid commentary brings the country’s sobering truths to light.” 



A “fascinating volume. Jones’s sharp eye and quick wit enable vivid writing.”

—Publisher’s Weekly


“A passionate— often grim— account of a country and a people trying to find peace after decades of war.” 
—Kirkus Reviews

Looking For Lovedu

A Woman's Journey Through Africa


On a canoe trip in Zimbabwe, Ann Jones met British photographer Kevin Muggleton, and on a whim they decided to make an overland “expedition” from one end of Africa to the other. Their mission: to reach the southernmost tip of the continent and find the Lovedu people, a legendary tribe guided by the “feminine” principles of compromise, tolerance, generosity, and peace–a tribe once known for its use of skillful diplomacy instead of warfare, and ruled by a wise and powerful woman, a great rain-making queen named Modjadji. 


After rudimentary preparations, Jones and Muggleton set out from England in a 1980 powder-blue army surplus Series III Land Rover. Looking for Lovedu chronicles their adventures as they lurch through Morocco, Mauritania (where they cross the great apricot-colored expanse of the Sahara alone), Senegal, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria (where they are harassed by greedy soldiers), Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Zaire (where they bog down in endless mud), Uganda, and Kenya. Along the way they battle malaria, try to reform some would-be robbers, sing Christmas carols with American missionaries, visit the twenty-four wives of the fon of Nkwem, and confront extortionate and dangerous “Mobutu Men.” In Nairobi, Jones bails out on the speedy Muggleton and recruits a new vehicle and new companions: Australian film maker Caro Hartsbury and Kenyan Celia Muhonja. The women travel on at a more leisurely pace through Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe to South Africa where they at last meet Modjadji V, Queen of Lovedu. In the course of this roller-coaster ride—crowded with obstacles, beauty, maddening corruption, and remarkable people—Jones learns a lot about Africa, past and present, and one or two things about herself.




“An elegant, ambivalent travelogue.” 


“Jones peoples the journey with characters no package tourist would ever find . . . It is her descriptions of people that raise this above mere travelogue.”         
—London Daily Express


“Jones writes with pungent observation and wit . . . She is an engaging and venturesome traveling companion, one whose encounters with Africans are touching and surprising.”
—The New York Times


“Gripping . . . A daring journey . . . laden with descriptions of the African land mass and all of its riches.”
—Chicago Tribune


“Beautiful writing . . . Riveting”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer


Women Who Kill

. . . A classic.” —Gloria Steinem


Hailed as a landmark book when it first appeared in 1980, Women Who Kill was reissued in a 30th anniversary edition by the Feminist Press; it’s the first title in a series of Contemporary Feminist Classics. In a new introduction, Ann Jones brings the book and the issues it raises up to date. Women Who Kill is not simply a study of women murderers in America.  It is a social history of women in the United States from colonial times to the present told through the often tragic or desperate—and fascinating—stories of women driven to kill.


Unlike men, who are apt to stab a total stranger in a drunken brawl or run amok with a high-powered rifle, women rarely resort to murder; but when they do, they are likely to kill their intimates—husbands, lovers, or children. Taking such homicidal patterns as “shadows of profound cultural deformities,” Ann Jones explores what they reflect about women and our culture. Informed by meticulous research, Women Who Kill considers notorious women such as axe-murderer Lizzie Borden, acquitted of killing her parents, Belle Gunness, the Indiana housewife turned serial killer, Ruth Snyder, the “adulteress” electrocuted for the murder of her husband, and Jean Harris, convicted of shooting her lover, the “Scarsdale Diet doctor.” But there are dozens of unknown women in these pages, women from all walks of life, compelled to violence by their times, then lost to history. From crimes of infanticide in colonial days through the poisoning of husbands in the nineteenth century to the battered wives who fight back today, Ann Jones recounts tales of crime and punishment that reveal hard truths about American society and woman’s place in it.




“Exceptionally interesting . . . Ann Jones is a sardonic, savagely witty storyteller.” 

—Walter Clemons, Newsweek


“This provocative book reminds us again that women are entitled to their rage.” 

—New York Times Book Review


“A classic and superb piece of work that can change social attitudes.”  
—Adrienne Rich


“Ann Jones’s important book shows us the world as if women mattered . . . 
A real-life murder mystery that readers won’t be able to put down . . . A classic.” 

—Gloria Steinem


“Stunning, revealing, provoking . . .A powerful book, not only about women who murder, but also about how women have been perceived.” 


“An extraordinary feat . . . a groundbreaking book filled with originality on every page.” 

—Susan Brownmiller

Next Time She'll Be Dead

Battering & How To Stop It


Fifteen years after she first wrote about wife beating in Women Who Kill, Ann Jones returned to the subject to ask: Why are women still being battered in America? In Next Time, She’ll Be Dead, she argues that all women have the right to live free from bodily harm. Yet violence against women continues. Next Time, She’ll Be Dead examines four habits of the American mind that cloud our thinking about woman battering and contribute to the persistence of what we euphemistically call “domestic violence.” 


First, we cling to a popular conviction that if abused women seek help from the law, they get it, when in fact the law itself often adds to the abuse they undergo. Second, we fool ourselves about the real nature of battering, mainly by speaking of it in the language of love; and we grossly underestimate how deadly it is. Third, we comingle and confuse sex, anger, aggression, and violence, and perpetuate that confusion in pop culture. And finally, and perhaps most important, we persist in the tendency to blame victims for “their” problems. Jones illustrates how all these habits of mind come together to the detriment of all women by closely examining public reaction to a single notorious case: the victimization of Hedda Nussbaum. A final chapter answers in detail the question “What can we do?” It offers invaluable practical tips and resources for professionals in the law, criminal justice, health care, mental health, social services, public policy, and research, and for individuals concerned about family members and friends.




“Whether you’re an individual woman looking for help or a reader looking for the truth about the thousands of women who are battered by the men they live with, Next Time, She’ll Be Dead is the one book you should read.” 
—Gloria Steinem


“Ann Jones is angry and constructive at the same time. She conveys an intelligent analysis of violence and victimhood. And she offers a well-conceived . . . blueprint for social and institutional change.”

—The New York Times Book Review


“Anyone who has seen news reports about women maimed or killed by abusive spouses or boyfriends and asked, ‘Why didn’t she just leave?’ needs this book.”

—Chicago Tribune


“A spirited and well-documented analysis . . . Next Times She’ll Be Dead is an important resource for anyone who wishes to understand how violence changes forever the lives of the women and children it touches.”

—New York Law Journal


“Next Time, She’ll Be Dead implodes any complacency one might have that having ‘come a long way’ in this area is anywhere close to far enough.”

—Boston Globe


“Powerful . . . full of heartbreaking examples . . .” 
—Detroit Free Press


When Love Goes Wrong

What to Do When You Can't Do Anything Right


This book was written at the request of leaders of National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to benefit millions of women who find themselves in relationships with controlling or abusive partners and don’t know what to do, or even what’s wrong. A woman may feel confused, anxious, inadequate, intimidated—or as if she is walking on eggshells. She may find herself trying harder and harder to make things right without ever being successful. 


Ann Jones and her friend the late Susan Schechter, the well-known activist and writer (Women and Male Violence), combined their long experience working with abused women and children to offer an eye-opening analysis of controlling partners and a wealth of information for women who want to change their lives for the better. Full of moving first-person stories, When Love Goes Wrong shows women what their options are in or out of the relationship. It also provides practical guidance on finding safety and support, a comprehensive list of agencies offering information and assistance, and very useful advice to family, friends, and therapists who want to be of help. For all women who find that no matter how hard they try to please their partner, it’s never enough, When Love Goes Wrong offers sound supportive advice for reclaiming their lives. 




“This book is a must for women locked in unhappy personal relationships and for professionals who wish to help them.”
—Marilyn French


“Respectful of abused women, terribly readable, smart, full of personal stories and clear answers to common questions, When Love Goes Wrong is a support group on paper.”



“A readable book . . . that fills an important void by helping women with controlling partners— who are not necessarily physically abusive. Highly recommended.”

—The Women’s Advocate, published by the National Center on Women and Family Law


“This is a perfect owner’s manual for impossible and destructive relationships.”

—Ally Sheedy

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