Fragments of Grace: My Search for Meaning in the Strife of South Asiaby Pamela Constable
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For four and a half years, Pamela Constable, a veteran foreign correspondent and award-winning author, has traveled through South Asia on assignment for the Washington Post. Following religious conflicts, political crises, and natural disasters, she also searched for signs of humanity and dignity in societies rife with violence, poverty, prejudice, and greed.
In Afghanistan, she made numerous visits while the country suffered under the hostile rule of the Taliban, attempted to reach the capital in a convoy that was ambushed and saw four journalists killed. She finally moved to Kabul in late 2001 to chronicle the country's post-Taliban rebirth. In Pakistan, she covered a military coup in 1999, immersed herself in the mys-terious world of Muslim mosques and academies, and discovered both the extremist and tolerant faces of Islam. In India, she attended one of the largest spiritual gatherings of Hindu pilgrims in history and then rushed to the horrific aftermath of a devastating earthquake. She repeatedly visited the Kashmir Valley, where Pakistani-backed Muslim guerrillas are waging a seemingly endless war with Indian security forces. In Nepal, she covered the crown prince's massacre of the royal family and journeyed to remote villages where communist rebels brought rigid moral order to life. In Sri Lanka, she explored a tropical paradise where reclusive insurgents trained children to become suicide bombers in pursuit of a utopian ethnic homeland.
Between extended sojourns in South Asia, Constable returned to the West to reflect on the risks and rewards of her profession, revisit her roots, and compare her experiences with Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity. Her book is a uniquely personal exploration of the rich but solitary life of a foreign correspondent, set against a regional backdrop of extraordinary political and religious tumult.
"Pam Constable’s reporting from Afghanistan has been an example of the last best hope of journalism: the use of old fashioned travel writing to capture the elusive quality of places and place facts in their proper context, both of which go missing in the mindless search for breaking news."
"It is her reverence for many of the people she has met along the way that gives her writing its special haunting quality. Pam Constable has also woven a poignant self-portrait. This is the odyssey of a foreign correspondent who turns her searing gaze on herself as well as others."
"For five years Pam Constable was our window on the coups, wars, revolutions, and assassinations that tore apart South Asia. . . . This book is a bravura performance, forcing the reader to think beyond the headlines to a better understanding of how all of our lives are affected by events halfway around an ever-shrinking world."
"[Constable] is a damned good reporter, with a keen sense of sight and sound. And she's able to make insightful analogies based on what she sees. . . . A moving memoir."
"[Constable is] a reporter of immense skill and integrity. . . . Fragements of Grace is often compulsive reading."
"Her reportage humanizes the drama, small and big, of nations, fully formed and unevolved, in permanent argument with themselves. It has the narrative frisson of a novel and the panoramic sweep of history. . . ."
"With stories, anecdotes, reflections, and her own gorgeous photos, she humanizes the details of daily life, never hesitating to examine her own role as an active participant in the events and conditions at hand. Current affairs-minded readers will appreciate Constable's persistent effort to decipher the labyrinth of factors shaping religious, ethnic, and political tensions in these volatile regions."
- Potomac Books Inc.
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Meet the Author
Currently based in Kabul, Afghanistan, Pamela Constable has been covering South Asia for the Washington Post since April 1999, spending four years as the region’s bureau chief. She is the coauthor with Arturo Valenzuela of A Nation of Enemies: Chile Under Pinochet. She has been awarded an Alicia Patterson Fellowship and the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, and she recently completed her tenure as the Pew International Journalism Program’s journalist-in-residence.
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