Mary's Reviews > West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story

West of Kabul, East of New York by Tamim Ansary
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's review
Jul 05, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: adult-books, high-school-books, nonfiction, multicultural

Reflections on life as a bi-cultural Afghan-American...Ansary grew up in Afghanistan for his first 13 years, and then moved to the US. His mother was a Finnish-American schoolteacher; his father was an Afghan who was sent to US for college and graduate school. Ansary describes differences in the way of life in the Afghanistan of his youth (private walled compounds filled with extended family together all the time) and the more individual and public lives of Americans. He reflects on the role of Islam in the lives of Afghans and other Muslims, and he talks about the basis of philosophical differences between orthodox scholars of Islam and the rationalists: for example, are certain behaviors good because God commands them as the orthodox practitioners believe, or does God command them because they are good, and good is as fixed and absolute as God as the rationalists believe. Ansary writes of his sister Revecca who seemed more easily to give up her Afghan self, and his brother Riaz who became a serious adherent to Islam. Ansary sent an email that became famous on September 12, 2001 talking about the condition of Afghanistan and the pointlessness of "bombing Afghanistan into the stone age" as some recommended. This is an incredibly informative book that reads easily.

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