"War wasn't beautiful at all. It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen.... It was about the people -- the sons and daughters, the mothers and fathers." So writes Christina Lamb in The Sewing Circles of Herat -- a chronicle of Lamb’s time in the late 1980s as a foreign correspondent covering the Afghanistan-Soviet clash, and the days she spent there after September 11, 2001.
Good To Know
In our interview, Lamb shared some fascinating anecdotes about her adventures with us:
"I always wanted to write and decided to become a journalist to have some adventures and make some money. I was 21 when I set off to live in the frontier town of Peshawar to report on the war in Afghanistan, and I had absolutely no idea what foreign correspondents needed -- or did for that matter. I could hardly carry my suitcase, which contained lots of novels including a dog-eared copy of Rudyard Kipling's Kim, a supply of wine gums, a bottle of Chanel perfume, Mahler's Fifth, and a pink felt rabbit. I will never forget getting off the Flying Coach in the old city just as the sun was setting, struggling with this oversized case, and being surrounded by rickshaws honking and people trying to sell me things, and realizing I didn't have a clue where I was going to stay."
I've always been fascinated by the first explorers and settlers in Africa who headed off with maps with great blank spaces that said things like, ‘Here be cannibals,' and I have often found myself following Livingstone's footsteps. My book The Africa House is set by the Lake of the Royal Crocodiles, where Livingstone's little dog Chitane was eaten and his porters ran off with his quinine on his ill-fated last journey. I got married in Zanzibar in the church founded by him. It was just us, and the priest's wife and a taxi driver as witnesses. Afterward, my husband, Paulo, had to sign on the marriage certificate to say whether he was monogamous, polygamous, or potentially polygamous. Fortunately he ticked the first, or it might have been an extremely short marriage."