THE SEWING CIRCLES OF HERAT: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan

Christina Lamb, Author . HarperCollins $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-050526-4

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. (On sale Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 12/01/2002
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FORMATS
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0081-3
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-06-050527-1
Hardcover - 338 pages - 978-0-00-714251-4
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-00-715788-4
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