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The Places in Between

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  8,931 ratings  ·  1,085 reviews
In January 2002 Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan-surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. By day he passed through mountains covered in nine feet of snow, hamlets burned and emptied by the Taliban, and communities thriving amid the remains of medieval civilizations. By night he slept on villagers' flo ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sean
In theory, it is easy to hate an Eton educated upper class Scotsman who decides it’d be a lark to walk across Afghanistan six months after the fall of the Taliban. The idea reminds me of the stupidity and adventurism I encountered when I went to Palestine with ISM. People vacationing in other people’s misery so they can go home and brag about it is not really my cup of tea.*

But after reading Stewarts book, I have to say it is extremely good. We learn next to nothing about Stewart here outside of
...more
Carmen
Nov 30, 2008 Carmen rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carmen by: Julie
It is what it is: a guy walks across Afghanistan. What do you think happens?
A) he encounters very poor and poorly educated tribal/feudal lords
B) he encounters hostile, backward, cruel teens and militia and former soldiers
C) he walks 25 miles a day with not much to describe: rural Afghanistan is rural for a reason
D) all of the above

D, of course D. Well, at one point he does get a dog. Now Rory can describe how Babur likes to sniff and pee and roll in snow.

I give Rory some credit for what he cho
...more
Tracey
Rory Stewart walks across most of Afghanistan. I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, Stewart’s total disrespect for the customs of the people he meets along the way interfered with any enjoyment I might find in the story of his journey.

He feels a sense of entitlement towards their hospitality. He expects to show up and be provided with the best accommodations and the best food. That he does this in an area where people often have a difficult time feeding themselves is irresponsible.

Ste
...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Just weeks after the fall of the Taliban in January of 2002 Scotsman Rory Stewart began a walk across central Afghanistan in the footsteps of Moghul conqueror Emperor Babur and along parts of the legendary Silk Road, from Herat to Kabul. He'd find himself in the course of twenty-one months encountering Sunni Kurds, Shia Hazala, Punjabi Christians, Sikhs, Kedarnath Brahmins, Garhwal Dalits, and Newari Buddhists. He said he wanted to explore the "place in between the deserts and the Himalayas, bet ...more
Lisa
I found out about this charater from a magazine article at the time of the book's release. A scotsman who, for a variety of personal reasons not really revealed (a nice change of privacy in this world). begins walking across Afgahnistan.

He intersperses historical entries of a previous walker & conquerer between tales of hospitality and snow and destruction of antiquities.

I don't imagine I will ever have the opportunity to go to the places he writes about. So much of it was unfamiliar that th
...more
Jennifer Chen
Aug 21, 2007 Jennifer Chen rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: South Asia hands and wanna be war zone journalists
Shelves: recentlyread
I'm not quite sure how to classify this book. It's not exactly a travel book, nor is it "current affairs." So perhaps I'm not judging fairly by seeing it air more on the side of travel than any other genre.

Anyway, a good travel book, in my opinion, should make you vaguely want to go to a place. Even if it's a wretched journey (as in In the Heart of Borneo by Redmond O'Hanlon). Even if the trip is perhaps beyond your financial or physical means. Even if you know what's being described on the pag
...more
Jonfaith
Graham borrowed my copy and didn't return it. Graham is a friend from the pub. He's retired and he often forgets many things. I bet he forgot he borrowed The Places In Between. The arrogance of the Westerner is on full display in this romp just after the NATO/Northern Alliance victory over the Taliban in 2001. Rory has a dog and the pair walk around. Rory finds many of the locals lazy or selfish. These same locals routinely give him food and shelter, this in the aftermath of an invasion. It is d ...more
Morgan
Feb 01, 2008 Morgan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: culture lovers
Recommended to Morgan by: myself!
Shelves: middle-east
The Places in Between by Rory Stewart has to be one of my favorite books. Rory has this gift to tell stories in such a brutally honest way that you find humor in even the most mundane life experiences. Although, I wouldn't generally categorize walking across Afghanistan 2 months after the Taliban fell, mundane. Yet, nothing about this book was breathtaking. Nothing was romantized, nothing placed on a pedestal. He spoke openly and honestly of all the people he met, those friendly, and those that ...more
Chrissie
The author walked across Afghanistan! Yes, all the way on foot. The book covers his travels from Herat to Kabul over the mountains in the winter of 2001, after the US invasion. Rather foolhardy/dangerous, but I enjoyed hearing about his meetings with the Afghans of different ethnic groups. A Afghan mastiff became his companion, which added a heartfelt touch.
Dorothy
I started out thinking I was going to really, really like this book. It is about a fascinating part of the world and one that is extremely important to us - and important that we understand - Afghanistan. It's a travelogue of Stewart's walk across that country, from Herat to Kabul after September 11, 2001.

In the last couple of years, I have read Khaled Hosseini's fictional books about his native land and I found them very revealing and sympathetic. I had hoped for a broadening of that experienc
...more
Charissa
I saw this author interviewed on PBS and quickly decided I had to read his book. So glad that I did. This man, a former British soldier who now works at Harvard, walked across Afghanistan entirely on foot in 2002-03. His story is a deep look into the culture of Afghanistan outside the cities. Basically what we hear about on the news takes place inside the cities. But most of the country is comprised of villages. When we talk about "winning" in Afghanistan we need to realize what that means. This ...more
Brooke
This is a really amazing book. Rory Stewart approaches his post 9/11 walk (with no money!) through Afghanistan with a certain academic detachment. He keeps his journey grounded in the history of the country by tracing an ancient route and describes his interactions with the people that he meets with the distance of an anthropologist. Unlike in other travel books, Stewart does not glorify himself or anyone he meets. He also resists the temptation to villainize or judge even those who threaten him ...more
Mike
Mar 29, 2009 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Students of Asia and war history
This Stewart guy has a pair of big brass ones-walking across Aghanistan in the shadow of the Taliban's defeat. He doesn't write as well as Robert Kaplan, another trekker of the world, but his stories are interesting nonetheless. There aren't many people in this story you want to meet but you get the clear description of one of the remotest parts of the world. Intriguing country. If I had the chance, I would like to visit the Hazara people and Bamiyan area. He paints an intriguing picture here. D ...more
Leah Petersen
I closed this book sobbing and I would just like to point out, I KNEW THE DOG WOULD DIE! I just knew it. As I hugged and kissed my own dog I reflected on my obsession with the dog contextually in a book that covers so many weighted subjects. The book explores a culture which America both hates and knows nothing about. Throughout the author's extreme journey through this land, capturing moments, ideologies and fears of the people hidden in Afghanistan's mountains, plains and plateaus...I could th ...more
Will Byrnes
Stewart is an upper class Brit who sustains the English tradition of adventurism. He has worked in Iraq (and done other things I cannot recall here) and in this book he tells of his walk across Afghanistan. It was an interesting tale, one in which he offers a picture of what life is like for many of the locals. It is not a happy existence, having to survive on land that is not very productive, at the edge of poverty for a lifetime, subject to the whims of the local warlords and bandits. One thin ...more
Michelle
I thought I already did a review on this book, but then realized it wasn't on my shelf at all. Anyway, read this book for my book club. We try to throw in some non-fiction once in a while. I think I was the only person who liked it/found it halfway decent. The meeting for this book actually opened with dead silence for a full fifteen seconds and then finally, "I didn't like it. It was awful," or something like that. Okay, so sometimes it was a bit boring, and Rory Stewart is not the best artist ...more
Brett
Feb 24, 2008 Brett rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brett by: book club
The Places in Between by Rory Stewart. It's a quick and easy read, and although it is not all that illuminating in many ways, it does give a snapshot of one person's fascinating journey through that country, and at least an idea about what it is like in the rural hamlets that comprise much of the population.

Rory Stewart never explains why it is he decided to walk across Asia. For whatever reason, he walked across India, Nepal, Iran, and other Asian countries. After the U.S. invasion of Afghanist
...more
Brandon
rory stewart, a scotsman, decided to walk across Afghanistan in January of 2002, on foot, by himself. if you'll recall, January 2002 was about 3 weeks after we installed the new government in Afghanistan. it was and still is a terribly unsafe place for westerners. as it turns out its even unsafe if you're an Afghani. Afghanistan is a country that is primarily still medieval: tribes based on ethnicity, religion, and location are constantly battling each other. this book is rory's travel diary of ...more
Sohrab
Apr 30, 2007 Sohrab rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Rory accomplishes something that no other travel diaries have done before him; he observes little of value or anything worth remembering from his experience. He loves walking and decides to walk through Afghanistan following footsteps of a Mongul king. As his journey progresses, he becomes more tired and increasing complains about people, food, climate, everything. Makes me wonder who forced him to do this? He complains about backwardness and violence in the Afghan places he visits. Is it any wo ...more
Robertisenberg
I avoided this book for a long time, and I couldn't tell you why. Something about the premise seemed smug, and I didn't feel I could trust a random Westerner (at the height of the Middle Eastern violence) to describe Afghanistan with any empathy. I did, in fact, judge the book by its cover.

Years later, my friend Caroline Kennedy heartily recommended it. She went so far as to compare my book, "The Archipelago," to Stewart's. I think I got the long end of the stick on that comparison: Where I took
...more
Don Becher
Interesting description of author's walk across Afghanistan. Brings home the isolated nature of much of the country, the varied interpretation of Islam, and the depressing odds of ever bringing the area all together in one country -- which has proved to be quite prescient.
Fran
Rory Stewart follows the route that the Prophet Babur did by walking through Afghanistan in 2002 just after the removal of the Taliban, he describes his journey in terrific detail and gives the reader a deeper understanding of a completely Alien culture. A riveting read.
Diane
I always like to read books about walking long distances in unexpected places. Rory Stewart is certainly a long-distance walking champion In 2000-2001 he walked across Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal but the Taliban refused to allow him into Afghanistan, leaving a gap in his planned walk. Hearing that the Taliban had fallen, he returned to Afghanistan and convinced authorities to allow him to walk from Herat to Kabul through the mountains in the winter. The Places in Between is an account of thi ...more
Wendell
It's an odd sensation in a travel book to be guided by a traveler who remains, for 300 pages, a cipher. Stewart reveals virtually nothing about himself or about his motive for undertaking his dangerous, difficult, and (evidently) unrewarding journey--on foot, no less. In fact, there's something distinctly bratty about Stewart's approach to the whole endeavor: he made the trip because he "wanted to," he repeats, and one can almost hear him stamping his foot; his evident lack of any need to suppor ...more
Chris
I read this because a close friend said it was a good book (no, this close friend is not on Goodreads. He doesn't do social networking sites).

It is a good book.

At times the comments are so British, the type that you can't see coming from anyone else but someone who is British.

One of the reviews here accuses Stewart of being insenative to the culture he visits. I'm not convinced that is the case. The book is more about the culture than about Stewart, and while Stewart does treat his dog as a West
...more
Dale
A Scotsman, a mastiff and a feudal nation

Published by Mariner Books in 2006.

When the United States first invaded Afghanistan one of my friends wondered aloud if we intended on keeping it as a colony. I quipped that we already owned a mountainous desert area full of people that have a religion that we don't understand - we call it Utah (with apologies to my Mormon friends out there).

After reading The Places In Between I truly realize the depth of our misunderstanding of the situation in Afghanis
...more
Jonathanstray Stray
This book is the story of a Scotsman who walked across central Afghanistan, 800 kilometers from Heart to Kabul, in January of 2002. He writes of his various adventures, including the peasants, soldiers, village headman, imam and Taliban that he meets, and he discusses the complex history of each place he passes. He visits ancient cities and witnesses a polo-like game played with a dead goat instead of a ball. As a piece of travel writing, it is entertaining and informative, but I believe it is n ...more
Molly
How could this book not be interesting? The fearless author really does walk across Afghanistan. The pluses: The author is honest and the narrative is neither sensational nor dry. He is compassionate toward the people he meets and is smart, determined and reasonable. He is fearless, and as described in the book "nutters." Another plus is the subject matter, the Afghan people and their history. I appreciated the authors anthropologist type of objectivity, even if I could not completely feel it my ...more
Garrett Burnett
For no reason really, Rory Stewart decides to walk across Afghanistan shortly after the U.S. invasion of the country. A Scottish academic, Stewart goes armed only with a "letter of introduction" from a prominent Afghan leader and a walking stick (for which he is mocked). He wanders through deserts and snow, over mountain passes, and among dangerous people. As he goes, Stewart observes. He looks at the colors of the hills, the history of the buildings, the customs of the people, and the furnishin ...more
Matt
This is the best book I have read in quite a while. In the midst of all the politicization of places like Afghanistan these days, Stewart simply sets off walking across it, giving detailed descriptions of its places and people. All of a sudden, Afghanistan becomes concrete, diverse, and very human, no longer an abstract, homogenous concept. Further, Stewart often goes on detailed excurses about the history of Afghanistan, leaving the reader with a sense of its rich cultures and deep history.

One
...more
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Rory Stewart was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Malaysia. He served briefly as an officer in the British Army (the Black Watch), studied history and philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford and then joined the British Diplomatic Service. He worked in the British Embassy in Indonesia and then, in the wake of the Kosovo campaign, as the British Representative in Montenegro. In 2000 he took two years ...more
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“I had been walking one afternoon in Scotland and thought: Why don't I just keep going? There was, I said, a magic in leaving a line of footprints stretching across Asia.” 3 likes
“Religions . . . seem to avoid mountain passes.” 3 likes
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