Customer Reviews for

The Places in Between

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

A man who finds a place in life where he is home.

Pretty much a story about this man's quest to bring antiquity thru to the modern age while trying to recapture what made this country beautiful; it's ancient art and history where much has been eradicated by a self-mutilating people frozen in time, who are caught in a v...
Pretty much a story about this man's quest to bring antiquity thru to the modern age while trying to recapture what made this country beautiful; it's ancient art and history where much has been eradicated by a self-mutilating people frozen in time, who are caught in a vicious political cycle of upheaval and re-birth thru the centuries. He seems to bring out what's left of hope in a hopeless struggle for peace in a region with many conflicts of interest.
It's also about a people who are bound to a life they hate and love at the same time. A land of Cain and Abel.

posted by whitee on March 23, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

And the point is?

Nonfiction writing should always have a point. Stewart writes fluently and well, but it's not clear what he wants the reader to take from his experience. If it's not an exercise in self-indulgent, 'you'll never believe what I did' bravado, travel writing should either d...
Nonfiction writing should always have a point. Stewart writes fluently and well, but it's not clear what he wants the reader to take from his experience. If it's not an exercise in self-indulgent, 'you'll never believe what I did' bravado, travel writing should either debunk a myth about a place or should encourage people to go visit before it's too late. 'Venice is sinking.' It should be an education or a call to action. After centuries of tribal warfare and invasion, what could be surprising about Afghanistan's poverty and descent into chaos? Would anyone in his right mind take a trip there? The quest for the untried and the exotic continues to fascinate, and perhaps as perspectives flatten out through globalization, there will be renewed interest in and a widening market for outlandish ventures like this one. But taking a nineteen-month walk through extreme danger is either courageous or it's foolhearty. If it's courageous, it must have a point. I'm afraid that Stewart's wildly overrated 'masterpiece' of a narrative is meaningful if and only if the reader is unable to imagine Afghanistan then and now. It's a place that is immune to change or if it has changed, it has only decayed. Stewart's description, for its many flashes of extreme beauty, is too close to reported reality to ingite the reader's imagination. One point of enduring interest is his brief dicussion of the young and inexperienced foreign-aid workers and their futile quest to build a liberal and humanitarian nation out of a collection of ancient prejudices and warring factions. Still, the book is worth reading, especially if one feels the need to further concretize the suffering and deprivation of foreign and seldom- visited lands whose victimization has been, in large measure, brought about by an imperialistic quest to 'discover' what was already there.

posted by Anonymous on May 10, 2007

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  • Posted February 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Diary of a Madman

    Rory Stewart is either incredibly brave, or totally insane. But whatever the influence may be, he has written a deep and insightful journal on his travels through a country that is often misunderstood and feared. In 2002, Stewart traveled to Afghanistan to walk across it. This walk took him from Herat to Kabul, roughly a 500 mile trek, following the trail of Babur, the first emperor of the Mughal empire. The first half of his expedition he was companied by 3 men, 2 of which were ordered to walk with him by the new Afghan government's secret police. These men gave Stewart many glimpses into the sociological culture of the people without saying anything to him outside of normal conversation.
    The book is more of a journal that was polished. I found this very refreshing, and made his experience very real to me, especially with his personal drawings included, from people to artifacts to random objects nearby. Stewart often describes his thoughts and feelings towards a situation, adding detail to the author himself.
    Yet Stewart never truly reveals WHY he is traveling so far, across such a dangerous route in January through a country of poverty stricken people. He does not delve far into descriptions, of either people, objects or locations, which makes the book rather dry and Stewart seem distant.
    I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in travel as a whole, culture immersion, Afghanistan or just looking for a good story. Stewarts style of writing keeps the reader engaged but gives them room to think and form their own opinions.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2006

    Before You Read 'Kite Runner', Read this Book

    A Scottish historian walks across Afganistan and every encounter, whether pleasant, unpleasant, confusing, dangerous, physically or emotional challenging...it is written both from the present historical viewpoint and also enlightened with important and illuminating past and ancient historical details that leave you with a picture of a far more varied, interesting and complex view of a little known country that one would ever have expected. Through the conversations and experiences he records, from the questions he has of the people of that they ask him or of situationa after sitaution he somehow deals with with amazing grace and intelligence and savvy, one feel as though one is travelling an exceptional person and sometimes one is on the edge of one's seat wondering what will happen next or how he will survive...It also an unexpected and warm yet difficult twitst that he adopt part way in the journey, a giant 'Ghorid' Mastiff dog that becomes as important a character as any of the other human characters he travels with or encounters. I read half this book aloud to my husband, interrupting his reading of the book 'The Kite Runner' but I think I got much more out of reading this first and then reading the latter. I highly recommended 'The Places in Between' for it's straigthforward and compelling style and story but also for it's humble grit, vision and patient willingness to share with the reader his considerable knowledge as well as compassion and selflessness and savvy on his amazing journey that many predicted was impossible journey to achieve alone on foot through rugged, isolated terrain and though contantly changing tribal territories. A book for anyone who realizes that we Americans are living in a bubble but with the help of people like Rory Stewart, we can break through the insulation and comfort of our lives to educate ourselves about other people and places we have little knowledge of or reason to care. Thank you Rory Stewart for getting me to not only appreciate what the Afgani people have survived and overcome and sometimes not survived and helping me to get a differant perspective on my life here in America as well as on Afghanistan and to care.

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