Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan

Sewing Circles of Herat: A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan

by Christina Lamb
     
 

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Twenty-one-year-old Christina Lamb left suburban England for Peshawar on the frontier of the Afghan war. Captivated, she spent two years tracking 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.

Returning to Afghanistan after the attacks on the World Trade Center to

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Overview

Twenty-one-year-old Christina Lamb left suburban England for Peshawar on the frontier of the Afghan war. Captivated, she spent two years tracking 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.

Returning to Afghanistan after the attacks on the World Trade Center to report for Britain's Sunday Telegraph, Lamb discovered the people no one else had written about: the abandoned victims of almost a quarter century of war. Among them, the brave women writers of Herat who risked their lives to carry on a literary tradition 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 them from being destroyed by the Taliban; and Khalil Ahmed Hassani, a former Taliban torturer who admitted to breaking the spines of men and 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 make this the definitive account of the tragic plight of a proud nation.

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Editorial Reviews

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. (On sale Dec.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
In 1989, when Soviet troops departed Afghanistan, Lamb, then a cub reporter and self-described "war junkie" covering the Soviets' defeat, left also. The following years brought her professional success, and in October 2001, Lamb returned to report on post-September 11 conditions in Afghanistan. In large part, the book is Lamb's effort to reconcile the country she saw as a romantic twenty-something, when she was smuggled to the front with a daring band of young mullah fighters, with a twenty-first century Afghanistan, where those same mullahs are now Taliban. Lamb juxtaposes her late 1980s memories with present-day impressions, leaping about in time and space in a manner that readers accustomed to more structured presentations might find bewildering. Nevertheless, her writing is fluid and vivid. Readers meet a Taliban torturer who broke his victims' spines and then stood them on their heads, as well as members of underground movements-artists, intellectuals, ordinary citizens-who resisted fundamentalist rule. Much space is devoted to Taliban treatment of women. One former student tells Lamb that they were confined "like cows in their sheds." Taliban excesses are not unique to the country's history, however. Lamb recounts a bloody Afghan history and its universally brutalizing effects. A fourteen-year-old boy, witness to more than one hundred public executions, describes a typical spectacle, saying that he watched "because it was entertainment." "Mine is a country where all the beauty has died," one artisan laments. Nevertheless, amid the rubble, Lamb sees new construction, survival, and possibly, hope. This book is recommended for high school and public libraries. Index. Illus. Photos.Maps. Biblio. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2002, HarperCollins, 338p, Heslin

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060505271
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/03/2004
Series:
Harper Perennial Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
960,247
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.86(d)

Meet the Author

The award-winning foreign affairs correspondent of London's Sunday Times, Christina Lamb is the author of The Sewing Circles of Herat and Waiting for Allah.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
London, England and Estoril, Portugal
Date of Birth:
May 15, 1965
Place of Birth:
London, England
Education:
M.A., Politics and Philosophy, Oxford University, 1987

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