Above the Din of War: Afghans Speak About Their Lives, Their Country, and Their Future—and Why America Should Listen

Peter Eichstaedt, Author
Peter Eichstaedt. Lawrence Hill, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-61374-515-1
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A veteran journalist and former Afghanistan country director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in the Hague interviews a cross-section of Afghans who are invariably passionate, articulate, and free with vivid but sometimes unsettling opinions on the international conflict that has descended on their homeland. Shopkeepers complain about the ongoing violence, Taliban leaders boast about their “swift” and “free” form of justice, and officials try to explain the country’s quandary. Both sexes—but especially women—tell terrible stories of injustice, cruelty, and murder. But some evince hope for a brighter future; female parliamentarian Shukoria Barekzai, though exhausted, exclaims, “I love to work with the truth.” A sophisticated observer, Eichstaedt (Consuming the Congo: War and Conflict Minerals in the World’s Deadliest Place) steps back frequently to emphasize recurring themes, and in the obligatory how-to-fix-it finale, he argues convincingly in support of regional partitioning, but admits that it’s unlikely to happen. These are vivid, mostly sympathetic portraits of Afghans who have weathered decades of chaos, and though a solution still seems far-off, Eichstaedt has done a great service by bringing their perspectives to the American public. 32 photos. Agent: Michele Rubin, Writers House. (Apr.)
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