Rory Stewart's moving, sparsely poetic account of his walk across Afghanistan in January 2002 has been immediately hailed as a classic. Caught between hostile nations, warring factions and competing ideologies, at the time, Afghanistan was in turmoil following the US invasion. Travelling entirely on foot and following the inaccessible, mountainous ...
Rory Stewart's moving, sparsely poetic account of his walk across Afghanistan in January 2002 has been immediately hailed as a classic. Caught between hostile nations, warring factions and competing ideologies, at the time, Afghanistan was in turmoil following the US invasion. Travelling entirely on foot and following the inaccessible, mountainous route once taken by the Mohgul Emperor, Babur the Great, Stewart was nearly defeated by the extreme, hostile conditions. Only due to the help of an unexpected companion and the generosity of the people he met on the way, did he survive to report back with unique insight on a region closed to the world by twenty-four years of war. 'This is traveling at its hardest and travel-writing at its best' - David Gilmour 'an astonishing achievement: a unique journey of great courage' - Colin Thubron 'wise, funny and marvelously humane' - Michael Ignatieff '[this] evocative book feels like a long lost relic of the great age of exploration' - Guardian 'His encounters with Afghans are tragic, touching and terrifying.' - Daily Telegraph
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Book by a British civil servant. Very good read even if from only his perspective.
Dec 3, 2009
While considering that anyone who would do what he did was to be entirely crazy, he very well defined that unique world of central Asia in terms of medieval-like tribal over central government and peoples who live entirely differently from the world we're used to.
A very interesting "read" and should be followed by reading "The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan" by Ben Macintyre and see how little has changed since the early 1800's
Jul 19, 2007
Very good read
Rory Stewart again lets the arm chair traveler meet people from a part of the world we would never go to. This book is not your standard travel book. Stewart is walking (yes all on foot) through a very dangerous part of the world. Add in that he did this in winter in a place the natives don't recommend winter travel in. Finally there is Babur the hound.
The old myths of the Afghans still stay with me but the author showed me their generousity to visitors, their versions of humor and some of their cultural heritage as well.
Apr 3, 2007
A travel book one cannot put down
Rory Stewart writes without hyperbole managing to downplay his daily life-threatening walk across Afganistan in the winter following the overthrow of the Taliban. Full of history, a rich vestment of daily life and the people he meets in his pilgrimage in between being shot at and interrogated by his hosts. I came to appreciate the people he encountered, their hospitality in sharing their meals of rice and bread, their customs and Rory Stewart's own humanity as well. I was changed too, when I came to know how Mr. Stewart encountered his companion a dog, a large unloved, never named or even petted village dog which he bought, traveled with and pledged would return with him to Scotland. I don't want to lose for you the mystery of his encounters with his new companion nor how their friendship grows. Mr. Stewart goes on to found a cultural center which is attempting to bring back artifacts sold from the region of his pilgrimage. Mr. Stewart continues to write of the people and places, he has learned to appreciate during his travels and as He has worked for the British government in Indonesia, the Balkans and Iraq, and is now a fellow of the Carr Centre at Harvard. I am now reading his second non-fiction account of "... negotiating hostage releases, holding elections and splicing together some semblance of an infrastructure for a population of millions teetering on the brink of civil war.""(from book jacket) in The Prince of the Marshes. He now lives in Kabul where he has established the Turquoise Mountain Foundation.
Publishers Weekly, 2006-02-13 We never really find out why Stewart decided to walk across Afghanistan only a few months after the Taliban were deposed, but what emerges from the last leg of his two-year journey across Asia is a lesson in good travel writing. By turns harrowing and meditative, Stewart's trek through Afghanistan in the footsteps of the 15th-century emperor Babur is edifying at every step, grounded by his knowledge of local history, politics and dialects. His prose is lean and unsentimental: whether pushing through chest-high snow in the mountains of Hazarajat or through villages still under de facto Taliban control, his descriptions offer a cool assessment of a landscape and a people eviscerated by war, forgotten by time and isolated by geography. The well-oiled apparatus of his writing mimics a dispassionate camera shutter in its precision. But if we are to accompany someone on such a highly personal quest, we want to know who that person is. Unfortunately, Stewart shares little emotional background; the writer's identity is discerned best by inference. Sometimes we get the sense he cares more for preserving history than for the people who live in it (and for whom historical knowledge would be luxury). But remembering Geraldo Rivera's gunslinging escapades, perhaps we could use less sap and more clarity about this troubled and fascinating country. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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