Bibliography - I have read a lot of books about Afghanistan. Here are a few I think are exceptional:
- An Unexpected Light, Jason Elliot - he was able to describe my
emotions as if he had been on the trip with me. One of the best books
I've ever read.
- Taliban: Militant Islam,
Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, Ahmed Rashid - the most concise
and readable book about the historical context of modern Afghanistan
- My Forbidden Face,
Latifa - journal of a young girl living under the Taliban
- The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini - the story of 2 boys growing up
in Kabul during the last peaceful years and coming of age 2 continents
apart. In the years since it came out it has become a classic piece of
popular literature. And Khaled has become a wonderful friend.
- Charlie Wilson's War, George Crile - an exhaustive (and exhausting)
narrative about the role of Congressman Charlie Wilson and the CIA in
funding the mujahidin during the Soviet occupation.
- The Bookseller of Kabul, Asne Seierstad - You feel like you are
living with an Afghan family. The choices women (don't) get to make had me
- Ghost Wars - Steve Coll - Riveting narrative of the CIA
involvement with the mujahidin before, during and after the Soviet
occupation. New stories about familiar characters.
- Kabul in Winter, Ann Jones - I'm not saying this because she's a
dear friend. And I'm not saying this because I make a guest appearance on
page 126. This is one awesome book. The book is by turns heartbreaking and
hilarious - hilarious in that wicked sardonic sense that those of us who
live here adopt to keep our sanity. Want to know what life is really like
for both Afghan and foreign women here? This is the book.
- Fragments of Grace, Pamela Constable - The Washington Post
correspondent who founded animal shelter Tigger House in Kabul has written
an insightful book about the challenges of ferreting out the truth in a
culture where truth is nothing but relative.
- Come Back to Afghanistan: A California Teenager's Story, Said
Hyder Akbar and Susan Burton - Originally a radio documentary on This
American Life, Akbar recounts his 3 summers in Afghanistan with his father
who served as Hamid Karzai's spokesperson and then as governor of Khost.
- Zinky Boys, Svetlana Aleksievich - Not particularly well written,
but a perspective seldom heard. Short individual memoirs by Russian
soldiers, mothers and widows about the war in Afghanistan. The title comes
from the fact that soldiers killed in Afghanistan were sent home in zinc
coffins and the families were not allowed to open them.
- A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini - A masterpiece of
literature about Afghan women. The description of the women's prison is
perfectly vivid, exactly as it was. One of the biggest thrills of my life to
be mentioned in the acknowledgements.
- The Hidden War, Artyom Borovik - Written in the year 2000, you
need to keep reminding yourself that he didn't know the Americans would be
doing it all exactly wrong in exactly the same way just a few years later.
Also Worth Reading:
- Punishment of Virtue, Sarah Chayes
- The Places In Between, Rory Stewart
- The Sewing Circles of Herat, Christina Lamb
- Caravans, James Michener
- Descent Into Chaos, Ahmed Rashid
Reading List - The fabulous staff of the Mountain View Public Library
Teen Zone has put together a reading list for
teens interested in life in Afghanistan. The reading list includes books
for adults, teens and children about the Taliban, arranged marriage, women in
the Middle East, Muslim women, women’s and girls’ rights, and the
exploitation of children.
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