HALF THE SKY: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by N. D. Kristof and S. WuDunn. Knopf, 320 pp., $27.95 (hardcover)

This is a clarion call to unleash the human potential that is enslaved, killed and tortured simply because that potential belongs to a girl or woman. Certainly the emancipation of women is just and right. But the authors make a convincing case that it is also the key to economic development, because women are the world’s single greatest untapped resource. They skewer “oh, but honor killing/genital cutting/enslavement is a cultural imperative” twaddle by pointing out that if that mindset had been applied to China, one of the authors of this book “would be stumbling along on three-inch feet.” For the mother of a daughter, this book was nothing less than electrifying.

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