A gold-inscribed invitation to a wedding in Pakistan led Lamb to leave suburban England for Peshawar – a town perched on the frontier of the Afghan war – at the age of just 21. Captivated by the Afghans she met, for two years she tracked the final stages of the mujaheddin victory over the Soviets as Afghan friends smuggled her in and out of their country in a variety of guises – from burqa-clad wife to Kandahari boy – travelling by foot, on donkeys, or hidden under the floor of an ambulance.
Long haunted by her experiences in Afghanistan, Lamb returned there after 9/11 to find out what had become of the people and places that had marked her life as a young graduate. This time seeing the land through the eyes of a mother and experienced foreign correspondent, Lamb's journey brought her in touch with the people no one else was writing about: the abandoned victims of almost a quarter century of war.
Among them were the brave women writers of Herat who carried on the literary tradition of this ancient Persian city under the guise of sewing circles; those persecuted by the Taliban such as Kabul's leading kite-maker, imprisoned for making the colourful paper kites that fly from the rooftops of the city; and Khalil Ahmed Hassani, a former Taliban torturer who admits to breaking the spines of men, then making them stand on their heads.
Christina Lamb’s reputation as a skilful chronicler of human stories, her unique perspective on Afghanistan, and her deep passion for the people she writes about make this the definitive account of the extraordinarily tragic plight of a proud people.
Runner-up, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award 2003
“An inspiring and moving account of Afghanistan’s plight… a compelling page-turner… Lamb shows that, despite attempts to destroy the country and its culture, its soul remains uncrushed.” - Independent on Sunday
“A remarkable blend of outrage, compassion and hope, Christina Lamb’s book is an alternately horrifying and uplifting insight into the Taliban regime.” - Evening Standard
“This book is in the best tradition of classics by British adventurers such as Robert Byron, Peter Levi and Eric Newby. In fact, Lamb’s empathy for the people she meets is such that her writing outdoes that of her stuffier male forebears.” - Daily Telegraph
Deeply penetrating, informative and always engaging.” - Financial Times
“As an account of how the country got into its present state, and of the making of the grotesque regime of the Taleban, it could not possibly be bettered. A powerful book… brilliant in its human detail.” - Spectator
One of Britain's leading foreign correspondents, bestselling author and inspirational speaker.
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