One would be forgiven for assuming that the reader of Farivar's memoir of war, religious fundamentalism and escape is, like its author, a native Afghan. With his mellifluous accent, and Britain-by-way-of-Kabul pronunciation, Christopher Lane superbly echoes the sound of Afghan English without any shade of parody. The result is a deeper immersion in Farivar's story of growing up in the relatively peaceful Afghanistan that predated the Soviet invasion of 1979, his time spent passionately devoted to the Qur'an in a religious school, and his studies at an East Coast prep school and Harvard after his arrival in the United States. An Atlantic Monthly hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 20). (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Confessions of a Mullah Warriorby Masood Farivar
Masood Farivar was ten years old when his childhood in peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan was shattered by the Soviet invasion in 1979. Farivar, who was born into a long line of religious and political leaders who have shaped his nation’s history for centuries, fled to Pakistan with his family and came of age in refugee schools. At eighteen, he defied his
Masood Farivar was ten years old when his childhood in peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan was shattered by the Soviet invasion in 1979. Farivar, who was born into a long line of religious and political leaders who have shaped his nation’s history for centuries, fled to Pakistan with his family and came of age in refugee schools. At eighteen, he defied his parents and returned home to join the jihad, fighting beside not only the Afghan mujahideen but also Arab and Pakistani volunteers. When the Soviets withdrew, Farivar moved to America and attended the prestigious Lawrenceville School, Harvard, and ultimately became a journalist in New York. In this dramatic and timely memoir, Farivar draws on his unique experience as a native Afghan, a former mujahideen fighter, and a longtime U.S. resident to provide unprecedented insight into the recent collision between Islam and the West. He paints a vibrant portrait of his family and his nation’s history, exposes the world of militant Islam by taking us deep inside the madrassas, vividly recounts his experiences on the battlefield at Tora Bora and elsewhere, and movingly conveys the culture shock of a Muslim living in contemporary America.
This timely memoir looks into the life of a man who has experienced war in Afghanistan from a side not normally reported on by the American media. Farivar explores his experience in the war with Russia that raged from 1979 to 1989, showing how his life circumstances influenced his attitude about war and religion and what jihad really means to someone who is Muslim. Not just a chronicle of war, it is also a coming-of-age story about a child raised by a secular father who as a young man becomes a refugee in Pakistan drawn to radical Islam, joining the mujahideen fighting in his homeland. A chance meeting with an English convert sets him on the path to America, a turn from radicalism, and a degree from Harvard. After years in America, Farivar has decided to return to Afghanistan and a very uncertain future. This invaluable memoir shows the other, non-American side of the Middle Eastern coin, explaining how a normal person can get caught up in radical Islam-not because he is anti-American or anti-West but because he is pro-Afghanistan. Farivar humanizes the experience for us. Recommended for larger public and especially academic libraries, where its discussion of hot-button issues will generate good discussion.
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Meet the Author
Born in 1969 in Sheberghan, Afghanistan, Masood Farivar fought in the anti-Soviet resistance in the late 1980s before attending Harvard University, from which he received a degree in history and politics. His journalism has appeared in publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, and Soldier of Fortune. He lives in Afghanistan.
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Masood Farivar provides an enjoyable and digestible first hand account of a complicated region and nation. His upbringing at the crossroads of tribal life and what was then the closest thing in Afghanistan to 'suburbia' life, combined with his journey to becoming a warrior fighting communism in the 1980s would serve well for any literature. Yet, Masood adds the cherry on top; he left Afghanistan for a Harvard education in the 1990s, and then returned to his country a couple years ago. As such, he applies a unique lens that provides a viewing angle for "western" readers. The outcome is a great read!
This was a great read. One can tell how intelligent Mr. Farivar is by his style of writing. It provides the reader a good insight to a young man growing up in the days of Soviet occupation. It may have been a little light on the period of Taliban atrocities, but Mr. Farivar was living in the US for some time between trips back to Pakistan/Afghan. Update: he now is in DC as Director Afghan Services for VOA. I learned a lot more about Afghan culture from this book.