In 2001 Rory Stewart set off from Herat to walk to Kabul via the mountains of Ghor in central Afghanistan. This was to be the last leg of a 21 month walk across Asia. The country was in turmoil following the recent US invasion and the mountain passes still covered in snow. Suspicious of his motives, and worried for his safety, the authorities provided Rory with two armed guards who accompanied him, but whom he soon out-walked. Later he was given a dog, whom he named 'Babur' in honour of the great Moghul Emperor in whose ...
In 2001 Rory Stewart set off from Herat to walk to Kabul via the mountains of Ghor in central Afghanistan. This was to be the last leg of a 21 month walk across Asia. The country was in turmoil following the recent US invasion and the mountain passes still covered in snow. Suspicious of his motives, and worried for his safety, the authorities provided Rory with two armed guards who accompanied him, but whom he soon out-walked. Later he was given a dog, whom he named 'Babur' in honour of the great Moghul Emperor in whose footsteps the two of them were travelling. War and weather impeded their journey, while Rory made discoveries of breath-taking beauty, like stumbling into the lost Turquoise City, a mythic archaeological treasure being dismantled and sold even as he came upon it. Both suffered considerable hardship and danger on a journey that took him to places both geographically and spiritually remote, but where almost everyone he met was to offer him a roof for the night and a meal. This is travel writting of the highest order, but with greater element of adventure and danger than is usual. It is a powerful account of what it is to travel painfully and slowly on foot in an alien and hostile landscape. The writing also brings with it insight into the nature and thinking of remote Islamic communities as well as the almost spiritual intensity of the experience of walking, as Rory Stewart stepped across almost uncharted territory, and tested the limits of other people's generosity and of his own endurance.
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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.
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