"The best kind of humanist journalism: lucid, transparent, grimly realistic...no book has covered it better" - ryan boyd,

los angeles review of books 


With Ash on Their Faces was one of the New Internationalist's Ten Best Books of December 2017, and was listed as one of the Best Human Rights Books of 2017.

“The best kind of humanist journalism: lucid, transparent, grimly realistic.… (N)o book has covered it better.”

–Ryan Boyd, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Contemporary testimony [grounded in a] wealth of historical context ... an urgently necessary chronicle of the Yazidi genocide"

- Times Literary Supplement

"An intense and morally needed chronicle of the Yazidis’ battle for survival, providing evidence for one of the most brutal acts of barbarity of this century and, from this, perhaps leading to something verging on accountability ... An intelligent depiction of Yazidi women’s ongoing resilience, suffering and survival."

- London School of Economics

"Otten's solid work deepens our understanding of a complex clash of ethnicities and religions.” 

- Kirkus review

"There are two constants in the modern history of genocides: they are recognized too late and their victims, particularly if they are women, are presented as passive sufferers.  Cathy Otten's important and morally urgent book tells the story of a on-going crime and a history of strength and resistance. Told with great care but with neither sentiment nor sensationalism, With Ash on the Faces, needs to be read by all those who care about justice -- and by those too occupied with global power to care"

- Lyndsey Stonebridge, Professor of Modern Literature & History at the University of East Anglia and author of the Judicial Imagination: Writing After Nuremberg.

"Otten tells the Yazidis' remarkable story with a deft and detailed hand in this revealing account of suffering, endurance and survival. An essential read for anyone interested in the plight and resilience of one of Iraq's most persecuted minorities."

- Anthony Loyd, Foreign Correspondent for the Times and author of My War Gone By, I Miss It So.

"Deeply reported ... a sensitive account that Otten pieces together unsentimentally and unsensationally."

- Hurriyet Daily News

"This is an intelligent and perceptive book about one of the great tragedies of our age. It is also an inspiring story of resistance and survival that everybody should read."

- Patrick Cockburn, Middle East Correspondent for the Independent and author of The Rise of the Islamic State: ISIS and the new Sunni Revolution.

"[A] Stark, shocking book"

- New Internationalist

"Woven through with heart-breaking, terrifying accounts of its survivors, and demanding an understanding of their community’s historical persecution, Otten’s searing chronicle of ISIS’ genocide of the Yezidis is compelling and devastatingly necessary." 

- Sareta Ashraph, ‎former Chief Analyst with the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the UN's Inquiry on Libya, and prior to that, Legal Adviser to the Office of the Public Counsel for the Defense in the International Criminal Court (ICC).


- New Humanist. One of the magazine's Ten Best Books of December 2017

Cover art by Molly Crabapple