In My Father's Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate

In My Father's Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate

by Saima Wahab
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In My Father's Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate by Saima Wahab

Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, at age three Saima Wahab watched while her father was arrested and taken from their home by the KGB.  She would never see him again. When she was fifteen an uncle who lived in Portland, Oregon brought her to America.  Having to learn an entire new language, she nonetheless graduated from high school in three years and went on to earn a bachelor's degree.  In 2004 she signed on with a defense contractor to work as an interpreter in Afghanistan, never realizing that she would blaze the trail for a new kind of diplomacy, earning the trust of both high-ranking U.S. army officials and Afghan warlords alike.           
When she arrived in Afghanistan in the winter of 2004, Saima was among the few college-educated female Pashto speakers in the entire country. She was stunned to learn how little U.S. and coalition forces knew about the Pashtun, who comprise 40% of the population and from whom the Taliban arose. The blessing of the Pashtun is essential, but the U.S. army was so unaware of the workings of this ancient, proud, insular ethic group, that they would routinely send Farsi interpreters into Pashtun villages.  As a Pashtun-born American citizen, Saima found herself in an extraordinary position—to be able to explain the people of her native land to those of her adopted one, and vice versa, in a quest to forge new and lasting bonds between two misunderstood cultures.
In My Father’s Country
follows her amazing transformation from child refugee to nervous Pashtun interpreter to intrepid “human terrain” specialist, venturing with her twenty-five-soldier force pro-tection into isolated Pashtun villages to engage hostile village elders in the first, very frank dialogue they had ever had with the Americans.

From her posting at the forward operating base Farah in Afghanistan’s blistering western frontier to the year she spent in Jalalabad translating for provincial governor “Hollywood Pashtun” Sherzai to the near-suicide missions of a year and a half in the Khost Province, where before every mission, she left instructions on how to dispose of her belongings, having to face the very real possibility of not coming back alive, Saima Wahab’s is an incomparable story of one young woman’s unwavering courage and undaunted spirit.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307884947
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 04/24/2012
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

SAIMA WAHAB was born in Afghanistan, went to Pakistan as a refugee, and moved to the United States as a teenager. Since then she has become one of the only Pashtun female translators in the world, and—among other consequent roles—has returned to Afghanistan several times to work as a cultural adviser with the U.S. Army. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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In My Father's Country: A Pashtun American Daughter's Journey to Afghanistan 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Samia I wish to thank you for sharing your story, I could not put the book down. When reading about your first and subsequent deployments it was as if I was there in Afghanistan with you and my husband! You arrived at BAF the same month my husband left BAF to go to Ghazni in 2004. I learned more from reading your book than I have from my husband, military personnel tend to not share deployment information. Even if a reader does not have a connection to the military READ this book! You will learn so much more about the highly respected and very much needed interpreters who accept to be deployed to a combat area, without them our military would be lost. Kudos to all interpreters both those who are deployed from America and those who accept the assignment in country. Thank you Samia Wahab.
Compelled-to-comment More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing story! I found it to be informative and educational. I was eager for it to continue, I want to know where the story goes next. I was mesmerized by they detailed descriptions of the country and the people. Loved this book!
ccinnc More than 1 year ago
I learned about this book from Jon Stewart during his interview with Saima Wahab on "The Daily Show." This book was such an eye-opener for me. By living both the life of a young Pashtun girl in Afghanistan and then moving to America and experiencing the liberties we so easily take for granted, Saima was in a unique position to understand both cultures and do good for both of our contries. This book clarified significant difficulties our troops have had in making much progress with gaining the trust of the Pashtun people in Afghanistan. If only there were a hundred Saimas to facilitate authentic and respectful communication between our people and theirs. I really enjoyed reading this book and felt so comfortable with Saima's voice presenting her story. Her stories also gave me such a sense of pride in our troops, their true American friendliness and their willingness to be advised by Saima in ways to respectfully approach and aid these proud but rightfully suspicious people. I saw the best of what Americans can offer. I only wish she could have reached more of our armed forces to guide them. Saima Wahab is a remarkable woman. Her remarkable father and grandfather would be so proud of her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Facinating. My son served four deployments in special ops at many of the fobs described in this book. I am glad i read it after he got out a few weeks ago. Now i can better understand what this war is about and the experience of those who serve. A wonderful book that will not be forgotten.
KPinBR More than 1 year ago
The author takes you on her journey from Afghanistan to the United States and reminds us how much of our fate is determined by where we live and our family's support. Despite losing him early, Wahab's life has been clearly driven by her father's vision for her despite other family members wanting to hold her back. Enjoyed learning more about Pashtun culture and the issues in Afghanistan which present challenges for our troops. Would have preferred a little less time on Wasab's personal relationships but overall enjoyed the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should be mandatory reading for any us citizen in afghanistan .. it is so interesting that i read it in 3 days! I hope that her mission continues for many years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful! I couldn t put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful book
Pen12 More than 1 year ago
This book taught me a great deal about Afghan/Pashtun culture. I liked the honesty with which Ms. Wahab wrote her book. Even though there were times when I thought she wasn't very nice I appreciate that she was able to open up and share her experiences publicly. Wahab is a very conflicted and complex person and this is clearly shown in the book. She goes back and forth between being an American and a Pashtun. These two cultures are very different with respect to how women must behave and are treated, but she attempts to adopt both so as a reader you may cringe a little for the people affected by her doing this. She also talks about why Americans are perceived negatively by Afghans. I would have never guessed why this is so from watching the news, but Wahab explains it well. I found this book to be very informative. The downside for me was that it ended too suddenly. I would have liked if she would have included an epilogue explaining if she achieved her goals for going to her father's country and/or what she learned from her stays there.
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Great read!!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw Saima Wahab interviewed on tv about this book and bought it immediately. It's a real eye opener on how Americans are perceived abroad and the misunderstandings we have about other cultures....and that other cultures have about us. I admire the author's dedication to helping US troops improve relationships in Afghanistan, and her tenacity to a difficult job.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I learned a lot about Afghan culture, but the author's incredibly huge ego was distasteful and obnoxious.