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Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  321 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
Soon after the bombs stopped falling on Kabul, award-winning journalist and women's rights activist Ann Jones set out for the shattered city. This is her trenchant report from the city where she spent the next four winters working in humanitarian aid. Investigating the city's prison for women, retraining Kabul's long-silenced English teachers, Jones enters the lives of ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Picador (first published March 21st 2006)
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215th out of 271 books — 300 voters
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Community Reviews

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Feb 20, 2008 Pete rated it really liked it
I have been in Afghanistan for nearly a year now and I have not read a book that summed up this country's challenges as well as this one (the only thing that keeps it from 5 stars are some totally gratuitous and unnecessary political shots). It is broken into 3 parts and the last two, ("In the Prisons" and "In the Schools") are deathly accurate. Her descriptions of the treatment of women and the indelible inferiority complex Afghan and Muslim societies in general, places on them is heart ...more
Dec 26, 2009 Trish marked it as put-aside
Shelves: nonfiction
An odd mix of personal anecdote and history. I love the personal, and loathe the history (as told by Ann). Ann has a unique viewpoint and can therefore tell us things we would never know about life in Kabul, but she should leave the history to those who both know it better and can tell it better.
May 28, 2007 Javier rated it liked it
Definitely powerful at times, this account of an American woman's four-year stint at volunteer work in post-Taliban Afghanistan serves as an important reminder that few of the structural problems facing Afghan society have been overcome with the fall of the Taliban. Her writing is certainly best when she considers the heart-breaking consequences of patriarchy with regard to the life prospects of Afghan women; her jives at "Bush the Lesser," etc., seem out of place and simply irrelevant to the ...more
Jun 21, 2015 Nick rated it really liked it
I keep going back to reading about Afghanistan to try and understand. Perhaps Mohammed Ghazni will live up to the early reports, but I remind myself that the same was once thought about former President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani neighbor, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. And there are reports of Taliban resurgence in their heartland of Helmand but also attacks in the north, in Mazar-i-Sharif and Kunduz. So I came to Ann Jones "Winter in Kabul", her account of that naive period after the Taliban ...more
Apr 23, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is the angriest book I've read about women in Islamic countries since Geraldine Brooks' "Nine Parts of Desire." Author Ann Jones, who has written before of violence against women, finds no reason to applaud the so-called liberation of women in post-Taliban Afghanistan, where traditional ultraconservative attitudes toward women (which she points out have no basis in Islam itself) continue to prevail. Considered property to be bought and sold, they have lives that often lead to child ...more
Ellis Amdur
Jan 15, 2015 Ellis Amdur rated it liked it
If this book does not enrage you to white-hot fury, you have neither heart nor good sense.  The first rage will be will be elicited at accounts of how women were treated not only during the Taliban years, but now, in the alleged freedom and democracy the United States has supposedly brought in. This is a place where women are imprisoned as immoral when they are raped - not in the countryside, but in Kabul itself.  And that is what brings up the second kind of rage - how through cack-handed smug ...more
Nov 29, 2007 Phyllis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, war
The author was in Afghanistan, and particularly Kabul, from approximately 2002 until 2005 for varying lengths of time. The primary topics she addresses are education, women's prisons, and the history of Kabul including the Soviet occupation, the mujahiddin "brother wars", the Taliban, and the U.S. occupation. She definitely has a liberal slant (which suits me fine). I really enjoyed the book.
David Colton
Mar 18, 2011 David Colton is currently reading it
Ann Jones is a brilliant researcher and a compassionate writer. This is an excellent book that details the blight of women in Afganistan. Ms. Jones also works the blunders of the Bush one and Bush two administrations into this story in the telling of this sad and bleak history of a woman's status in this country held hostage by fundamentalism and fear of western ways.
Jun 06, 2007 dallas rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book was incredible. I want to buy a copy for everyone that I know. If you ever wanted to know what it's really like in Afghanistan and what we've done to that country (both good and bad), this is the best book for that.
Apr 14, 2009 Sandy marked it as absolutely-must-reads
Shelves: travelogue, mideast
started to read this and had to give it back to owner - local author, have read another of her books
Oct 03, 2016 Sue rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the wake of 9/11 and the subsequent attack on Afghanistan, Ann Jones traveled to Kabul with the desire to volunteer her aid in the reconstruction.
From reading the book jacket summary, I expected this to ben an account of her activities and the people she came to know. Instead, it seemed to be more a commentary on the country's struggles and a judgment on U.S. involvement. Here are tales of American smugness and superiority along with accounts of how so-called aid money went instead to line
Sania Sufi
Mar 19, 2013 Sania Sufi rated it liked it
Mixed feelings. This book provides REALLY GOOD historico-political context of the current situation in Afghanistan. Jones provides crucial background info on US geopolitical interests in the country dating back to Cold War era, which - of course, is helpful in analyzing current turmoil in Afghanistan.

She also provides an accurate description of the complexity, insincerity, and falsehood surrounding Western "development" projects in countries in the Global South - such as Afghanistan - vis a vis
Sep 15, 2013 Josiah rated it liked it
This book represented a good overview of life in Kabul. I definitely resonated with it in many ways--from the descriptions of driving through the oft unmaintained Kabuli roads, to the uniquely broken Afghan English vernacular that Jones records, "Kabul in Winter" is, I have found, if not necessarily groundbreaking, at least a personal and nuanced memoir of living in Kabul as a foreigner. Jones tends to sidetrack her own story with not-so-brief histories of Afghanistan, slanting them to make her ...more
Aug 27, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
Often grisly, recounts women's tragic stories in Afghanistan, mostly deals with her experiences post-9/11, volunteering in Kabul.

I knew it was bad but when I read the whole book the social views on women by men and women in Afghanistan set in. It's messed up, and I want to throw cultural relativism out the window on this one. No human rights and women are literally worth less than a TV. I think most people know that's true in some cultures, but in my case I needed to read an account like this to
Jan 23, 2014 Kallie rated it really liked it
This is one of the best books I've read about Afghanistan and its current troubles -- troubles much exacerbated by a U.S. occupation policy ignorant and uncaring about Afghan culture and how to help restore peace and decent living conditions for all Afghans. Ann Jones went to lived in Kabul in 2002, and remained for four years, trying to make a difference for Afghan women, who lived in terrible conditions. This book recounts her attempts to help by teaching English to Afghan teachers, by ...more
Jul 31, 2011 Krys rated it liked it
I should have written this review closer to when I actually finished this book. I taught the final chapter about the schools for a cross-listed composition/ethics class. There seemed to be a general misreading of the text, although I couldn't say why. Jones came off as uncaring to most of my students. I think this is not so much a fault with the text so much as it is their inability to read through the sarcasm and cynicism of her writing.

For my part, I enjoyed both the tales of Jones's own exper
Oct 08, 2015 Jim rated it it was amazing
This book is written by an American teacher, journalist and human rights advocate who volunteered to work in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2005. In addition to providing some history of Afghanistan, it highlights the misogynistic and rigidly patriarchal nature of Afghan culture. And it documents the almost total lack of human rights that Afghan women must endure day after day. And this is long after the Taliban (and its hatred of women) have been removed from power. This is a powerful and distressing ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Heather rated it it was amazing
After reading The Kite Runner, I was talking about it at work with a co-worker who is from Afghanistan, and I asked him if he felt it was an accurate portrayal of Afghanistan. He said something that was simultaneously both very critical and diplomatic, along the lines of "not everyone sees Afghanistan the way Khaled Hosseini does." So I asked him what books he would recommend, and he recommended this one. He said, "That's what life in Afghanistan is really like."

So, there you have it, straight
Robert Maier
Apr 22, 2012 Robert Maier rated it really liked it
If you have the slightest interest in Afghanistan, this book is a masterpiece. Jones, like others who have spent time in Central Asia, is a wonderful combination of fearless and foolish. As a woman in a culture that is so staunchly prejudiced against independent and thoughtful women, her stories of the horror and chaos of Afghanistan during the reign of the Taliban and the early days of the U.S. occupation are even more breathtaking. She targets Islamic fundamentalism and the common people who ...more
May 29, 2009 Kristi rated it liked it
We all KNOW that the news reports and presidential statements of Bush 2 are false - no hearts and minds are won in Afghanistan, the war is not over and so much remains unresolved it is heartbreaking. To read this book is to open your eyes to the truth: America does not have the answers, other countries want help but not imposed false front democracies, and the little people are the ones who always pay while the powers sit in their ivory towers and move the pieces on the board. This was a hard ...more
Nov 02, 2015 waxpinkie rated it really liked it
Kabul in Winter is an insightful, illuminating book. Women's Rights activist and author Ann Jones spent several years in Afghanistan post 9/11 working as a teacher through an NGO.

Her portrayal of Afghanis is compassionate. Her descriptions of the terrible and circular constancy of war in Afghanistan via Tribal Warlords, Russian, American, European, mujahideen, and Taliban forces is a condemnation of the continual battle for resources in a region whose citizens no longer matter and have no voice
Aug 19, 2008 Heidi rated it did not like it
Shelves: feminism
There is potentially such an interesting story in this book; however, the lack of focus and organization made it extremely difficult to understand the author's thought processes. Jone provides an interesting history to Afghanistan that is designed to provide evidence for the inevitable conflict that has plagued the country in recent decades, but the history is highly fragmented and jumps around too much without a clear thread. In addition, there is little relation between pages--for a few pages ...more
Jan 01, 2016 Rage rated it liked it
Shelves: military, travelogue
I think I was expecting something a lot more anecdotal - stories about people that the author met and interviewed or developed relationships with. We do hear about those people throughout the book, but I found that it seemed more like a stage for the author to air grievances (about the treatment of women or poorly implemented foreign aid); that's valuable and interesting, too, but not quite what I wanted -- I think I wanted to be more able to see people in Afghanistan as individuals, not just ...more
May 28, 2009 Kelly rated it really liked it
I had a really hard time with the book at first. The writing is hard to follow at times and the author's bitterness is distracting. Once I got through the first part though, I couldn't put it down. Great Book about life in Afghanistan. I was stunned by some of the stories she told about the treatment of women (literally had my hand over mouth, shaking my head....horrified)and the "b.s." attempts our government has made to rebuild. It's an important story that needs to be told, though it would ...more
Loret Steinberg
Nov 13, 2010 Loret Steinberg rated it it was amazing
Amazing, so much more than I expected. Jones has a heart and mind, looking at individuals yet the bigger picture. It's the culture, not being muslim. Outside powers continue to use and to abuse (terribly) a place that developed the over such a long time (and most often with the meddling of outside powers). A very human book that weaves how and why into the account, so we don't even ask why we should care -- we do. Unexpected in this book -- details about "foreign aid," the ...more
Aug 15, 2008 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A lyrical but melancholy book about the small victories and many failures of Afghanistan's reconstruction. Jones illuminates both Afghanistan's violent history and the current conditions in Kabul. She focuses a great deal on the failure of American for-profit aid, some 70% of which never reaches Afghanistan, and on the plight of women. There is some small hope in this book, but overall it is a depressing and frustrating narration. My only complaint is that Jones's explicitly partisan writing ...more
Nov 08, 2010 Unwisely rated it really liked it
I had a hard time rating this one - I feel like I've been giving a disproportionate number of 4s lately, and can't tell if the books are actually better or what's up with that.

This is one of those books you don't exactly *enjoy*, but I was definitely glad I had read it. It's sort of the story of one woman who flew to Afghanistan in 2001 to try to help and lived there for 3 years, sort of a history of that mess, sort of a well-footnoted indictment of how America screwed that up.

I don't pretend to
Linda Robinson
Sep 30, 2009 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could remember when I read about Ann Jones; it was recently, but context escapes me. This book, covering three years in Afghanistan "teaching the teachers" English beginning soon after 9/11, is brutally honest about the work of NGOs, INGOs, our own government, and the complicit regimes we've supported and abandoned in the region. It isn't always our eye-opening privilege and ordeal to read the aftermath told by survivors of our foreign policy and "peacekeeping" efforts. Ann Jones ...more
Molly Coltman
Jun 21, 2007 Molly Coltman rated it liked it
Although seemingly well researched, and the fact that I mainly agreed with the author's stances, I found it discrediting that her opinions were frequently included in her reporting. Any semblence of objectivity went out the window. Perhaps I misunderstood the genre, and this is meant more as a memoir than an account of the lives of women in Afghanistan, in which case her opinions, naturally, ought to be included. Despite that nettlesome thing, and the utterly depressing histories and conclusions ...more
Michael Morris
Jan 23, 2010 Michael Morris rated it it was ok
A good, not great, read. Though in the same vein, it is definitely not on par with Reading Lolita in Tehran. The book is supposed to be about the condition of everyday life in Afghanistan post-Taliban (and the residual influence of that regime), but it comes across as a criticism of Bush's foreign policy in the region. The few passages in the book that are true gems are truly outweighed by the rest of this highly opinionated work.
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Author of Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan, Ann Jones is a journalist and activist for womens rights around the globe. She is currently working on a book about women, war, and photography.


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