afghanistan

And the Mountains Echoed

By Khaled Hosseini
4
Rated by Margaret O.
Nov 1, 2017

Fans of Khaled Hosseini’s earlier works will not be disappointed in this continuing story of a culture he knows well: the people of Afghanistan.

And the Mountains Echoed opens with a father telling a story from Iranian Mythology to his children. It's a story about a poor farmer who is forced to give up one of his beloved children to a div (evil giant), and it sets the stage for the emotional rollercoaster that follows. Each character lives with his own brand of misery and a heart-wrenching grief that ties them together. How much can any of us do to relieve the suffering of others? How much

When the Moon is Low

By Nadia Hashimi
2
Rated by Katie S.
Sep 27, 2015

Imagine that food is scarce, money is even scarcer, education is not an option for women and freedom of anything - speech, religion, choice - no longer exists. This is Afghanistan in the 1990s, the world in which Fereiba now lives and she is desperately seeking a way out. She grew up in a better time where she was able to go to school, teach and live a respectable but free life. She recounts her childhood and growing up in a middle-class family while remembering her first love and how heartbroken she was when he married her sister. But now she is married herself to a wonderful man who supports

Duty

By Robert Gates
4
Rated by Marty J.
Jun 10, 2015

Robert Gates provides a thorough, no-holds-barred accounting of his 4 ½ years as Secretary of Defense – 2 years under George Bush and 2 ½ years under Barack Obama.   I was most interested to read his thoughts about our current president and, potentially, a future president (Hilary Clinton).  Although Gates and Obama had their differences, he describes Obama as “presidential,” a man of personal integrity with whom he developed a strong relationship, one in which they “largely saw eye to eye”.

For Hillary Clinton, Gates has only the highest praise: “Before she joined the Obama administration

What Changes Everything

By Masha Hamilton
4
Rated by Helen H.
Oct 1, 2013

In contrast to books like Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds and Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead, where soldiers’ experiences are brought to life, What Changes Everything illuminates how war tears at those left at home. A refugee aid worker in Afghanistan is kidnapped, and his wife must decide on a course of action from across the world where no one agrees on how to proceed. How does a mother find solace when her young soldier son comes home a double amputee? A kind young man is killed at war and his mother and brother come unmoored after discrepancies behind his purple heart come to light. Almost like

Jun 7, 2013

When 19 year old Travis arrives home on leave following a tour of duty in Afghanistan he feels out of place.  His parents are getting divorced. His younger brother has stolen his girlfriend and his car. And his best friend’s ghost keeps popping up at the most inconvenient times.  Travis, bothered by nightmares of the night Charlie was killed, and bouts of PTSD, finds reality at home somewhat surreal and feels disconnected from his former life.  When Travis encounters a former classmate, Harper, he finds someone who isn’t put off by the changes in him and who seems to accept him for who he is

Nov 30, 2010

WarIn Sebastian Junger’s latest non-fiction adventure War, the author spends parts of 15 months embedded with American soldiers in one of the deadliest locations in Afghanistan.  This is not a history of Afghanistan, not a commentary on US foreign policy, or a romanticized look at combat.  Politics and culture are far removed from the daily lives of the young men Junger observes and emotionally bonds with in the Korengal Valley.  Junger did almost everything with the 2nd Battalion: he patrolled with them, went through fire fights, ate military rations, interviewed them during the down times, and

Aug 17, 2010

Stones into Schools by Greg MortensonStones into Schools by Greg Mortenson, author of "Three Cups of Tea" is the most inspiring and entertaining book I have read in a long while - probably since I read "Three Cups of Tea" a few years ago. Greg's story of the thirst for literacy in Pakistan and Afghanistan, his developing relationships with the leaders of these remote communities, and helping them to build schools for their girls is an amazing story and one filled with hope for the future of their world and our world. In Three Cups of Tea, Greg tells of his being saved by remote villagers in Pakistan after his failed attempt at

Aug 3, 2010

Stones into Schools by Greg MortensonStones into Schools: Promoting peace with books, not bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, picks up where the author’s first book, the best-seller Three Cups of Tea, left off. (See review of Three Cups of Tea in Staff Picks blogs.) The Central Asia Institute (CAI) which author Greg Mortenson founded in the 90’s continues to build schools in Pakistan, and has expanded its efforts into neighboring Afghanistan. Though Mortenson longs to spend more of his time in these two countries, it becomes increasingly clear that his ability to raise funds and awareness by promoting his books requires him to

Jul 7, 2010

khaarijee.jpgA novice newspaper journalist recounts his experiences in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban.  He’s never been a foreign correspondent; he’s never been a war correspondent.  So his reader will learn through him how to blindly set out to a war-torn country bereft of the simplest comforts…running water, for example.   The heart of the book is the story of Garcia, a social worker turned journalist, and his friendship with his Afghan interpreter, "Bro".  Each chapter is a series of vignettes drawn with care to illustrate the exhaustion of people ruined by and tired of war, but trapped by

Apr 30, 2010

Three Cups of Tea by Greg MortensonI found this book and author so inspiring that in order to do them justice, I felt compelled to share how I first became aware of the author and my response to hearing the author speak and reading the book. In 2003, there was a Parade magazine article about a man named Greg Mortenson, who had founded an organization, the Central Asia Institute, that had built 28 school buildings in a remote area of Pakistan. In this article, he made the following statement regarding the war on terrorism. “If we truly want a legacy of peace for our children, we need to understand that this is a war that will

Jan 28, 2010

Lone Survivor by Marcus LuttrellLone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Lutrell A gripping read, this is the true story of a military operation in Afghanistan that went terribly awry. Lone Survivor recounts the details of a mission to capture an al Qaeda leader who was working with the Taliban in a remote region of Afghanistan. Four members of a Navy SEAL team were sent in to perform the mission. They were ambushed by a Taliban force consisting of at least 150 men. Though vastly outnumbered, the team members heroically fought off their attackers. Marcus

Nov 4, 2009

Despite a million dollar football contract, his engagement to his high school sweetheart, and the opposition of his family, after 9/11 Pat Tillman felt it necessary to put his life on hold and join the fight against al-Qaeda. When asked how he would deal with the media when his Army enlistment became public knowledge, he answered, “I’m not going to.” And he never did. Despite the best efforts of politicians and the media, Tillman and his brother Kevin, who joined at the same time, never granted an interview or explained themselves to anyone but their closest friends and relatives. Using Pat’s

Sep 1, 2009

Two reviews ago I declared Sherman Alexie’s The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian a must read. So I fear readers might deem me as too generous is declaring The Photographer a must read so soon afterward. But alas, it’s a risk I will have to take. The Photographer, in a unique collaboration between photographer, graphic artists and friends, chronicles the four month journey of Didier Lefevre’s first of eight trips to Afghanistan where he documented the work of Doctors Without Borders. It is an especially good introduction, not only to Afghan culture but to the causes of the ongoing