Christopher Kremmer The Carpet Wars

ISBN 13: 9780007142408

The Carpet Wars

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9780007142408: The Carpet Wars

A personal odyssey through war, friendship and craftsmanship along the old Silk Route, this is a travel book that illuminates the contemporary story of south west Asia. In 1990, Christopher Kremmer arrived in Afghanistan to interview the doomed communist president, Dr Najibullah as rampaging factions of mujahideen massed on the outskirts of Kabul. He found himself intrigued by the politics and culture of the land, and his book provides revealing, often first-hand portraits of warlords such as Ahmad Shah Masood, "the Lion of Panjsher", of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and of Pakistan's President, General Pervez Musharraf. The real stories of the lands of the ancient Silk Route, however, are accessed through Kremmer's obsession with the carpets of the region. Initiated into the wonders of the craft through the stunning classic design and pomegranate dyes of the filpai or Elephant's Foot in Dr Najibullah's office, Kremmer is hooked, and thus tells the tales of his lasting friendships with nomads on portable handlooms to managers of mechanised production units to the merchants in the souks and bazaars.

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Review:

In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Iran, Iraq, and the Central Asian republics, carpets are viewed as objects of reverence and expressions of the highest artistic achievement. As the region's second largest export behind oil, they are also big business. "The early Muslims inhabited lands where people were born on carpets, prayed on them, and covered their tombs with them. For centuries, carpets have been a currency and an export, among the first commodities of a globalized trading system," writes author Christopher Kremmer. Even in the midst of turmoil and war, a bazaar will spring up during breaks in the fighting and carpet merchants will quickly resume business as if nothing had happened. In this detailed look at the culture and recent history of these countries, the carpet trade serves as both backdrop and metaphor for the shadowy and complex politics of the region in which trickery, illusion, and manipulation are part of the game.

The result of 10 years spent as a journalist in the region, Kremmer's book explains how the fragile web of tribal and religious alliances and the influence of outside powers have impacted the politics and economy of the area and began a continuous cycle of exile and return, along with the rise of militarism and terrorism. The book also serves as excellent travel writing, with fascinating anecdotes and telling conversations and encounters that illustrate the customs of a region that is now the focus of international attention. --Shawn Carkonen

About the Author:

Born in Sydney in 1958, Christopher Kremmer has spent the past decade exploring Asia nad writing about it for print and broadcast media. His award-winning first book, Stalking the Elephant Kings, unearthed the skeletons of communist rule in Indochina. He lives in Sydney.

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