The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan

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9780060505264: The Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan

A gold-inscribed invitation to a wedding in a foreign land led Christina Lamb at the age of twenty-one to leave suburban England for Peshawar on the frontier of the Afghan war. Like the Englishmen in the Great Game of the nineteenth century, she was captivated by the Afghans she met. For two years she tracked the final stages of the mujaheddin victory over the Soviets as Afghan friends smuggled her in and out of their country in a variety of guises -- from burqa-clad wife to Kandahari boy -- travelling by foot, on donkeys or hidden under the floor of an ambulance.

Among those friends was Abdul Haq, the recently executed Kabul commander, and Hamid Karzai, the new president of Afghanistan, who took Lamb to his hometown of Kandahar, where they rode around on the backs of motorbikes belonging to a group of fighters known as the Mullahs Front. It was these figures who went on to become founding members of the Taliban.

Long haunted by her experiences in Afghanistan, Lamb returned there after the attacks on the World Trade Center to find out what had become of the people and places that had marked her life as a young graduate, and to report for Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

She was now seeing the land anew, through the eyes of a mother and an experienced foreign correspondent who has lived in Africa, South America, Portugal and the United States. Lamb's journey brought her in touch with the people no one else has written about: the abandoned victims of almost a quarter century of war.

Among them are the brave women writers of Herat who risked their lives to carry on the literary tradition of this ancient Persian city under the guise of sewing circles; the princess whose palace was surrounded by tanks on the eve of her wedding; the artist who painted out all the people in his works to prevent their being destroyed by the Taliban; and Khalil Ahmed Hassani, a former Taliban torturer who admits to breaking the spines of men then making them stand on their heads.

Christina Lamb's evocative reporting brings to life these stories. Her unique perspective on Afghanistan and deep passion for the people she writes about makes this the definitive account of the tragic plight of a proud nation.

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About the Author:

Christina Lamb is one of the world’s leading foreign correspondents. Author of Farewell Kabul and New York Times bestseller I Am Malala, she has reported on Pakistan and Afghanistan since 1987. Educated at Oxford and Harvard, she is the author of five books and has won a number of awards, including Britain’s Foreign Correspondent of the Year five times, as well as the Prix Bayeux-Calvados, Europe’s most prestigious award for war correspondents. She currently works for the Sunday Times and lives in London and Portugal with her husband and son.

From Publishers Weekly:

Expelled from Afghanistan by the Taliban for her reporting, award-winning British journalist Lamb returned after the September 11 attacks to observe the land and its people firsthand. Through interviews with locals, Lamb paints a vivid picture of Taliban rule and offers a broader sense of life devastated by two decades of war. Her well-written and moving account also reveals the heroism of the Afghans, who not only survived but also resisted their Soviet occupiers; clandestine literary circles and art preservation techniques, for example, helped Afghans salvage their education and history from total destruction. Yet this is more than a chronicle of everyday Afghan life. Lamb's probing interviews with Afghan warlords, former members of the Taliban and other influential personalities ignored by the Western media fill a gaping hole in research on the ideologies and perspectives of these actors. Her encounters with Pakistani Taliban patrons Sami-ul-Haq and Hamid Gul shed light on Pakistan's support for the Taliban. Lamb could have strengthened her account by utilizing her impressive research to further explain Afghanistan's poorly understood local rulers. Moreover, her occasional use of sensationalist language to describe Afghan suffering belittles the gravity of the situation, and her attempts to intersperse the country's complicated history with the present situation may also confuse unfamiliar readers. Nevertheless, her work leaves one with a powerful sense of what the Afghan people have endured and sheds light on the local leaders who have shaped Afghanistan's recent history. Illus.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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