Dorothy's Reviews > The Places in Between

The Places in Between by Rory Stewart
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Dec 23, 08

bookshelves: travel-and-adventure
Read in December, 2008

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 experience with this non-fiction book, and indeed there were moments of revelation and increased understanding, but in the end, I found that it left me cold. Literally. I felt the need to wear a sweater while reading it.

In large part, that was because this is - necessarily, I guess - a very one-sided and one dimentional story. It's the story of the male population, or at least a segment of the male population, of Afghanistan, and it is a story of unrelieved hardship and squalor, not just physically, but intellectually and spiritually. While that may be the truth, it was very hard for me to read.

I couldn't help wondering throughout about the missing characters - the women. What must it be like to be a woman in these Afghanistan villages? "A Thousand Splendid Suns" gave us a glimpse of their lives but there is little hint of the lives of these invisible people here, and very little thought seems to be given to them by the author.
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