Review: Girl With A Gun, by Diana Nammi and Karen Attwood

Diana Nammi became a fighter with the Peshmerga when she was only seventeen. 

Originally known as Galavezh, she grew up in the Kurdish region of Iran in the 1960s and 70s. 

She became involved in politics as a teenager and, like many students, played a part in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. 

But the new Islamic regime tolerated no opposition, and after Kurdistan was brutally attacked, Galavezh found that she had no choice but to become a soldier in the famed military force. 

She spent twelve years on the front line, and helped lead the struggle for women’s rights and equality for the Kurdish people, becoming one of the Iranian regime’s most wanted in the process. 

As well as being the startling account of Galavezh’s time as a fighter, Girl with a Gun is also a narrative about family and resilience, with a powerful love story at its heart.

My Review

Thanks to Anne at Random Thing’s Tours for organising this blog tour and sending me an ebook copy of this book.


Diana Nammi is the daughter of a Kurdish baker and his second wife (he divorced the first one – no polygamy here) and she grew up in a loving home, with a caring mother and grandmother, and a father determined his children would get an education. It was Iran in the 1960s and 70s. Things were unstable and the Kurds were subject to discriminatory laws. During her teenage years, as she trained to be a teacher, Diana got into politics. She was a natural socialist, having spent all her life asking ‘why?’ and getting told to sit down and shut up. Or at least don’t say things out loud.

Then the Revolution happened and Diana became an activist for the socialist party Komala. She became so well known that she was sought by government forces and had to escape to the Peshmerga, one who dies for the good of others, where she continued fighting for Kurdish freedom and women’s rights. In her years as a Peshmerga she went through heartbreak and lost friends to the fighting, fought to change attitudes that would have kept her in ancillary positions when she wanted to fight, and for a long time she was the only woman Peshmerga who carried a gun and fought on the front lines. She also helped woman and girls in forced marriages, victims of domestic violence and tried to end ‘honour’ violence (there is no honour in murdering defenceless women and children, dimwits) and did her best to improve things for her community.

Unfortunately, religious nutters don’t like women having rights and like many of her comrades she was forced to take refuge in Iraq, at a really bad time. There was the Iran-Iraq war, then Saddam Hussain decided gassing Kurds was brilliant idea, and then the US and allies invaded during the first Gulf War. By 1995 is was too dangerous, the Komala party had lost its way and Diana, with her estrange husband, Mahmood and their daughter Tara made the long and dangerous journey to the UK.

They had to leave Mahmood behind in Turkey and when she arrived in London, after a grueling trip, she was reunited with Azad, a former flame, who happened to be assigned to her as translator.

In the years since, Diana has fought to end ‘honour’ violence in the UK, educating police and politicians about the crimes committed in the name of ‘honour’ (again, for the benefit of dimwits who think it’s okay, and just in case I haven’t made it clear, there is no honour in kidnapping, abusing and murdering women and children because of a perceived slight – get your heads out of your arses).


I adored this biography. It is so simply told, from Diana’s perspective, with such passion, that I couldn’t find a trace of Karen in the writing.

The story of Diana’s life is intense and powerful, a call to arms for oppressed people and a lesson to those of use from countries who routinely interfere in the world. Actions have consequences.

The narrative is also moving and full of love. Diana’s love for her home, her family and culture is clear throughout the book, and her personal difficulties and losses are beautifully expressed without mawkishness or excessive sentimentality.


It’s all good. Except that I’m now ashamed of the British part in messing up Iran and want to smack Iranian officials with a big stick. Or possibly a cast iron frying pan. It could have been so beautiful.



The Authors

Diana Nammi spent twelve years on the front line as a Peshmerga before moving to the UK as a political refugee, founding the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation in 2002. In 2014 she won the Special Jury Women on the Move Award from UNHCR and was recognised as one of the BBC’s ‘100 Women’. In 2015 she won the Voices of Courage Award from the Women’s Refugee Commission in New York.

In a twenty-year career as a journalist, Karen Attwood‘s work has been published in all UK national newspapers as well as several international publications. She is a former staff writer at the Independent and the Press Association, and was on the launch team for Abu Dhabi’s first English-language newspaper, the National.

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