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Come Back To Afghanistan: My Journey From California To Kabul
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Come Back To Afghanistan: My Journey From California To Kabul

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  235 ratings  ·  38 reviews
"Said Hyder Akbar was living an ordinary suburban life in California when the shocking events of September 11, 2001, turned his world upside down. After the fall of the Taliban, Hyder's father, a scion of an Afghan political family, sold his business - a hip-hop clothing store in Oakland - and left for Afghanistan, where he became President Hamid Karzai's chief spokesman. ...more
Published (first published October 13th 2005)
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Paul
Apr 25, 2009 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes
Interesting perspective on the difficulties facing development in the Pashtun regions of Afghanistan in the early years after the liberation from the Taliban. It also shows the confused political situation in that area.
It is written by a very young Afgan Expat raised primarily in California, and the list of Afgans that are mentioned are a who's who of the russian war Jihad. It is refreshing to see an Afghan perspective on the situation. Like reports on this or any subject it is important to k
...more
Jennifer
Good insight into the inner-workings of Afghan government. However, it's important to remember that this book is entirely from a Pashtun perspective.
Brianna
Feb 20, 2012 Brianna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who reads the news
Shelves: books-i-found
Hyder is an Afghan-American whose father sells his California retail store to return to Afghanistan to work in politics and help build a new government.

Hyder is able to visit Afghanistan for the first time, and the book is mostly about the two summer he spends there as a teenager whose father holds an important position.

Some reviewers have mentioned this book starts out slow, but I didn't feel that at all; I thought it was riveting from Chapter One. (It probably didn't hurt that Hyder is from
...more
Jim
Aug 24, 2007 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in knowing what's happened in Afghanistan since 2001
This is Hyder Akbar's accounts of his recent summers in Afghanistan. He's an Afghan national who lived his entire life in California up until the age of 17. Then, after the US toppling of the Taliban, the new government called his father back to work for them, and Hyder went with. So, the perspective you get is both very relatable, yet is also that of an insider.

His personal struggle to become "truly" Afghani is a colorful backdrop for the information he delivers. For example:

- The Taliban, alth
...more
Marisa
Wow, I am so glad to finally be done with this book. It started really, really slow for me -- I didn't enjoy the first 100 pages or so at all. When it did pick up and I started to get engaged, I didn't have any time to read.

For those of you who don't know, this is the true story of a California/Afghani teenager -- he was born in a refugee camp in Pakistan, raised mostly in California. Although his parents are Afghani, he's never been to Afghanistan...until, that is, the Taliban is toppled after
...more
Meg
I heard the author interviewed on This American Life....and wanted to hear more. As an Afghani-American, he has a unique view point on the current happenings in Afghanistan...and I definitely wanted to see what a full book about his country would teach me. I was happy to grab a copy off of paperbackswap....and even endured a hardback copy to read it.

The book is about Hyder's discovery of his home country....watching his father who is a part of Karzai's start up government work--- and exploring
...more
Shawna
Jun 19, 2008 Shawna rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shawna by: 'Drew' from my Y.A.. literature class
Said Hyder Akbar' loves U2, his California home, his family, and Afghanistan. After 9/11, Hyder's father, Said Fazel Akbar, sells his Hip-Hop clothing store in Fremont and returns to Afghanistan, later to be elected Governor to the Kunar Province. Hyder relays stories from two full summers spent in Afghanistan after high school. His connections allow for an unparalleled introduction: he dodges bullets and assists the Americans in a firefight, meets Hamid Karzai on numerous occasions, watches a L ...more
Katie Cunningham
Mar 14, 2008 Katie Cunningham rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of This American Life; those interested in the Middle East and/or other cultures
Fans of This American Life may remember the two episodes with this same title. They featured the audio diary of an Afghan-American teenager from California returning to Afghanistan after the ouster of the Taliban. This book is a more reflective telling of the same time period and later. Said Hyder Akbar's father holds (at this time) a prominent position within the Afghan government, which gives him a unique insight into Afghanistan's struggle to rebuild and adopt democracy. He explains the diffe ...more
Baljit
Hyder displays amazing maturity and courage for his age. He gives up the comforts of his Californian home and spends months in Afghanistan absorbing the cultural and political scene. He has the advantage of understanding the local dialect and cultural mores while relating to the American military demands. Often he much more than an observer, and his passion for rebuilding Afghanistan shines through despite insurmountable difficulties.
Rekha
Now this is good non-fiction. An Afghani-American teen who has never been to Afghanistan before decides to go back right after 9/11 despite highly dangerous circumstances to help rebuild the government? DANG, that is brave. Not only that, he gets a front row insider's view of the nation-building (or lack thereof) because his father, a high level Afghani official (who has been spending the last 20 years in exile selling hip-hop clothing to Californians) gets a job as the governor of Kunar and the ...more
Louis Woofenden
An interesting account of Afghanistan after the U.S. military actions post 9-11 from Said Hyder Akbar, who also created radio stories for This American Life, and others.
Caroline
SO good so far (three chapters in)! I should have read this so much sooner, but better late than never! Hyder grew up in LA, having escaped with his family when the Taliban took over Afghanistan. He returned after their fall, to work alongside his father who was going through his own transition -- from a leader in the struggle against the Soviets, to the owner of a Californian hip-hop clothing store, then a governor of Kunar, a province in the west. Hearing the story of Afghanistan's recent hist ...more
Lisa W
I read this book shortly before going to Afghanistan for the second time. It was one of the best books I have ever read, with some of the most brilliant and descriptive writing I have seen. What made this book so wonderful was that it was written by a 17-year old Afghan-American who returned to Afghanistan after living most of his life in California. His conflicted feelings between the culture he had always known in the U.S. and that of which he was thrown in to when he went to Afghanistan was a ...more
Terry
A different point of view about Afghanistan from a young man whose family hails from there but who got his first look at the country after he graduated from high school, after 9/11, when his father went back to be Hamid Karzai's press secretary. There are two authors listed for the book, and sometimes, particularly early in the book, the disparity between two voices is a little jarring. Hyder's opinions are deeply influenced by his father's perspectives. His youth is vividly apparent in many of ...more
Henrietta
In my continuing quest to learn as much about Afghanistan as I can, I stumbled upon this book. What a treat. Hyder Akbar comes across as your typical California teenager interested in movies and U2. As his story evolves we learn about his family history and how it relates to the bigger picture of Afghanistan. Akbar is observant, insightful and articulate. He makes you care about the people of Afghanistan and it's future. I look forward to more very big things from this very young man.
Aprillee
Mark and I have(espcially Mark)have been going through this phase of really wanting to learn about Afghanistan. This book is written from a teenagers perspective. The boy grew up in California and began going back to Afghanistan for the summer after the fall of the Taleban. I enjoyed learning about Afghanistan through the perspective of someone who is Afghani, grew up in the states then goes back to Afghanistan to try to help rebuild the country.
Siiri
Very unique perspective on Afghanistan from a teenage Afghan-American who returns to Afghanistan with his father who becomes a district governor. Insightful look into the role of the US military & aid efforts and how it all ties into Afghanistan's complex tribal relationships and history of conflict. I can't think of anyone who would have more access to current politics in Afghanistan and be able to share them in such a powerful way as Akbar.
Lauren Graeber
I picked up this book because I just needed something to read and it was in my husband's grad school reading list.
It's been an eye-opening account of a country I knew so little about. I've loved following the author through Afghanistan. It's also been cool to cross-reference Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns with this historical and contemporary story.
It's not a page turner but it's still really interesting!
Amanda
I read this book almost immediately after I read Kite Runner and just as immediately realized how foolish that was. CBtA is based on Said Akbar's actual experience as the son of an Afghani politician and is thus much less malleable than Kite Runner. It's no less thought-provoking though; it's heart-breaking to think about what has happened to this formerly beautiful country in the past few decades.
Mandy Blackburn
We all need to know a little more about Afghanistan in today's world and need to understand why it is not so easy to just go and solve their problems. Hyder does an excellent job of beginning to bridge the gap between Americans and Afghans and how the problems and their solutions are often not what they seem. There is good and bad on both sides and many of us cauth in between just trying to live life.
Damara
For a geopolitical ignoramus, this book was very informative about past and present day Afghanistan, was easy to read, and had the very interesting perspective of a person who understands both Afghan and American culture. He highlights some of the issues in trying to transfer a western style government onto a culture that is fundamentally different.
Jennifer
This is such a captivating read! A high schooler from Oakland travels to Afghanistan to learn about and help his father, the governor of Kunar Province, rebuild a country whose history and future have come to shape his identity. I think everyone should read this book! Also check out thislife.org to hear his radio documentaries from his trips back.
Peggy
I gained great insight into the workings of Afghanistan by reading this account written by an American young man with joint citizenship. He returns to Afghanistan with his father for several summers and writes about his experiences. Very thought provoking when one considers what the U.S. is trying to create in that country.
Agustinus Wibowo
When I started reading it, I didn't expect this book to be really good. But it was indeed among the best book written on Afghanistan, because it's from an insider's point of view. Hyder is a very talented young journalist that Afghanistan should proud of.
Megan
Very good book. Like with "Charlie WIlson's War", I was suprised at how ignorant I am about Afganistan. It is a fascinating place with an incredible (and lately very sad) history. Written by a young guy, you get a different perspective.
Dawn
This memoir is a look at how hard it will be to rebuild Afghanistan, but manages to be both realistic and hopeful at the same time. If only the US government would pay half as much attention to the realities.
jaylene
Not a fluid writing style, but the first hand account of life in Afghanistan is interesting. This kid is in the midst of warlords and all the craziness. Interesting. But I never finished it...
RoHullAH RaHiMi
Interesting book, i like when he say his feeling like how he will miss Big Mac and what he feel like when he enter afghanistan. the book is well written and over all a good book to read.
Otto
The son of a provencial governor's account of afghanistan. Written with humor and forethought, it is a useful book in developing an understanding of Afghanistan.
Higs
an excellent starting point for beginning to understand what's going on in modern afghanistan
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Said Hyder Akbar is currently a junior at Yale University in New Haven, CT. He is also co-director and founder of his own nongovernmental organization, Wadan Afghanistan, which has rebuilt schools and constructed pipe systems in rural Kunar province.
More about Said Hyder Akbar...

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