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The Carpet Wars: From Kabul to Baghdad: A Ten-Year Journey Along Ancient Trade Routes

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  372 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Apart from oil, rugs are the Muslim world's best-known commodity. While rugs are found in most Western homes, the story of religious, political, and tribal strife behind their creation is virtually unknown. In "The Carpet Wars, award-winning journalist Christopher Kremmer chronicles his fascinating ten-year journey along the ancient carpet trade routes that run through the ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by Ecco Press (first published January 1st 2002)
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Krissy
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-suggestions
This book, while amazingly long (450 pgs) and more or less directionless, was nonetheless a pleasure to read. I can honestly say that it had no discernible overarching plot line - we jump in at a certain point in the author's life, and jump out about 10 years later - but I'm the kind of person who loves to read about what a culture "feels like" or is like to "be in." This one takes you through Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Iran, with great characters and good stories. I didn't ...more
Michael Flanagan
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: afghanistan
What an absolute gem of a book. The author takes to one of the worlds most troubled areas and tell us a story in two parts. The first is the history of the area and the second is of the people who live their now, and where does the carpet come into you may ask. That is what ties it together so nicely. This is one of those rare book I was sad to finish, I wanted it to keep going.
Samantha Ho
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this gem of a book I happened to pick up at a used-books stall a dozen stars, I would. For someone who has little background on Middle Eastern and West Asian history, The Carpet Wars pretty much blew my mind - on a factual, cultural, and emotional level. The author's recounting of meetings with leaders of the army and Taliban, among others, gives glimpses of systems that the mainstream (Western) media never highlights. His personal encounters with locals loaded the book with even ...more
Daren
This is a great book - It covers a lot of ground, and it does so slowly. This is not a high octane read, or a read that I would undertake as a primary read. It is a drop in, read a chapter, drop out type of book, and it appeals so much that I have read it twice - something I can seldom justify.

Chris Kremmer is an Australian journalist, and over a ten year period, he spend time based in, and travelling around Central Asia. This book chronicles his love of Carpets, and throws in the culture, the
...more
Kiwiflora
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it

This is not the first book I have read about this deeply troubled area of the world. It would appear the conflict of the last fifty years or so is nothing new, we just know more about it now, and the impact on the rest of the world is more profound. The first book I read was in the 12 months or so after 9/11 when places we had never heard of were in the daily news all the time. In An Unexpected Light Briton Jason Elliot recounts his time in Afghanistan in the early 1980s disguised as a fighter
...more
Adrian
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was both a pleasure to read and a life changing inspiration. Released in spring 2002, one may be forgiven for thinking this was no coincidence, and marketed in the wake of 911, however it is no such work.
The Carpet Wars chronicles 10 years of the authors travels in Central Asia and his collecting of carpets, and how each carpet tells a story.
This is most definitely not the latest Daily Mail or Daily Express column exposing some shocking practice of Shariah Law, rather it is a
...more
Andy Hickman
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“THE CARPET WARS: A JOURNEY ACROSS THE ISLAMIC HEARTLANDS” by Christopher Kremmer

Profound insight into a whole world and epoch that most of the Western culture are oblivious to. May well be the most important definitive historical recording of that place on that time.
The audiobook is read by the author and captures the emotional intensity and humour of his experiences.

“Afghanistan has always been a curious mixture of medieval custom and bold stabs at reform.”

“... piercing eyes of jade wearing a
...more
Sally Edsall
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Christopher Kremmer's book takes you on a journey through the Central Asian countries most frequently in the news today, and provides an incomparable insight. The largest, and first, section, is an account of events in Afghanistan, which he has witnessed first-hand as a foreign correspondent.

This book is no dry history, nor is it merely a travelogue, nor is it merely an extended piece of journalism.

Kremmer comes to know and befriend people of different backgrounds within the region, and it is
...more
Matt Wallace
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Starts slow but develops well. Interweaves travelogue, journalism, history and politics effortlessly. Manages to give a history of carpet weaving which informs the geo political history presented simultaneously and vice versa. Also deeply personal and intimately revealing of the lives of everyday middle easterners prior to 911. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, India, Iraq, Kashmir and Tajikistan all brought to life, at least for me. If you are interested in any of these places, definately worth ...more
Harry
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meandering, intriguing and slightly sorrowful, Kremmer's tour of the 'Carpet Heartlands' of the Middle East and Inner Asia is an impressive book. It manages to pack in detail without any of the dragging dullness which so often bogs down travelogues; the author's conceit of binding together the people he encounters with the colours and iconography of their rugs has the dual impact of helping us understand the people—whether they are elaborate and fanciful and extravagant or hard-edged and ...more
Ern Richardson
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I can't quite pinpoint how I feel about the author. At times he seems quite reverent of the ancient cultures he explores throughout the novel. Yet at other times through his actions he seems to disrespect those same cultural traditions, placing others in genuine jeopardy just so that he can get what he wants. I found the way these incidents were flippantly remarked upon as if they lacked significance to be quite jarring.

The book gives an interesting and somewhat intimate view into the world of
...more
Felicity J
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book takes you on a carpet ride to the carpet's origins. To strange arcane places with ancient pasts and troubled presents. On the way, you meet interesting people who have much the same life goals you or I have and others who are downright characters. All the while you are wondering at the journey you are on with the author. From the way he writes, you picture him at first as a middle aged man with a well developed beard, but no from the picture in the back of the book, he seems like a ...more
Milele
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a really enjoyable book to read while filling in many holes in my knowledge of the recent political history of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran etc. I was surprised at how effectively it straddled the line between vignette and longer story. As vignettes, I could read a chapter before bed and happily stop. As an arc, I felt that the later chapters not only followed up on political events of earlier chapters, but also reflected the author's greater experience, exhaustion and fatalism.
Rita
Mar 07, 2014 rated it liked it
2002
An easy way to get some background on Afghanistan, Kashmir, Iran. Bits of history interspersed with contemporary situation interspersed with talks and friendships with local carpet sellers.
The book was borrowed from Rosemary.
Learning about carpets and their [symbolic and other] importance in these cultures was a treat in itself.

As another goodreader pointed out, we can conclude that current politics in this region have a long history and there is nothing new under the sun here.

Kremmer is
...more
Travis Kendall
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a very well researched and well written journey through the Islamic world in the dozen or so years prior to 9/11. Through telling the stories of his own quite amazing adventures, Kremmer does a wonderful of weaving (forgive the choice of word) the politics, war, religion, and history along with with incredible stories of the local people into an extremely compelling narriative. Some of this book is a little bit dated and some of the stories (where Bin Laden came from etc.) you probably ...more
Maddy
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Pretty rambling, unfocused and doesn't talk much about carpets after all. Want to know what a warp vs a weave is? Learn about different patterns and what they mean? Not sure why you knot carpets and what that means? Interested in child labour issues? This book will not help you. Want some insight into the politics of the middle east, 1990-2000, and the effect on everyday carpet sellers? This book delivers!

Very readable, a good intro to why Afghanistan is a mess (and a sadly optimistic ending, in
...more
David
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cleanskin
Not bad but so bloody depressing on several levels. I live an easy life in an easy country where people are more concerned about cholesterol than bombs, although that may change. Carpets often made in appalling conditions, in countries where life can be cut short with little warning and who knows where the next meal is coming from. Trading is a funny business with so many middle men selling stories and ideas as much as the actual tangible items.
Kathleen McRae
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book.It certainly was a journey through Afghanistan's history and a few other countries in that vicinity. I loved some of the rug information although you would have to have some previous knowledge about rug making and in particular tribal rug making to understand it all He gives some basic info but it is certainly not a primer.He discusses some of the horrors that have taken place in Afghanistan with a bit of detachment.it was a bit of an odd read but I still liked it.
Matt Brant
In this fascinating book, the Australian journalist gives brief histories of the regions and cultures of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, and India with a special accent on the history of carpets. Kremmer is not quite a tourist because he gets to know people, but he is not an expatriate either because he is always on the move. We get in-depth portraits of his friends, a rug merchant of Kabul and a Hazara student that he helps, as well as the slave driver Massoud who exploits child weavers.
Tegan Mahoney
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Was given a copy by a friend many years back. The title instantly turned me off, having me imagine it was something related to carpets (how naive of me!). Instead it was a beautifully told history of Afghanistan that was linked to the lives of every day carpet traders and makers who have conducted business in Afghanistan for hundreds of years. Given that this was written prior to the US led invasion, an updated version might be an interesting read. Highly recommend!
Amanda
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
I admit to a guilty love of Persian carpets, so this exploration of Central Asia through the lens of the carpet makers and sellers was bound to appeal to me. It is somehow easier to see the larger picture by focusing on this single thread, as it were. Preachy histories with larger agendas abound after 9/11, but this work is honest and enchanting.
Cheryl
Aug 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travelbooks
I like a good travel boook/ travel memoir, and THIS is what I like in a travel book. An intelligent interesting narrative perspective, and a book that teaches me (a lot). Fabulously weaves history, current/recent events, and interpersonal anecdotes/experiences.

Kremmer is becoming a favorite travel writer of mine, both this and Inhaling the Mahatma were standouts.
Gabrielle Trenbath
This is a great book and a must read for anyone who loves Persian Carpets. It looks past the wars, ethnic troubles and religious dramas to examine an age old civilisations that has given us so many wonderful types of carpets.
Tracy
Apr 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you are liable to become obsessed about anything, this is not the book for you. Otherwise I am sure you will soon be tramping around the globe picking up carpets and becoming obsessed about their stories.

Read the full review at OurBookClub
Denny
Nov 19, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
fascinating. A book to re-read regularly.
Adam
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A must read for all those wanting to know more about the middle east its beauty, intrigues, history and stories... and a great read
Tighe
Nov 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"you cut my heart"
"I cut your heart and eat it!"
Carolyn
One of the best books I have ever read. Brilliantly written and so captivating
Mwana
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A must-read.
Athanasia
Dec 21, 2009 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
so difficult to read the book, given the fact of how thick it is :)
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“From the pleasure podium of Ali Qapu, beyond the enhanced enclosure, the city spread itself towards the horizon. Ugly buildings are prohibited in Esfahan. They go to Tehran or stay in Mashhad. Planters vie with planners to outnumber buildings with trees. Attracting nightingales, blackbirds and orioles is considered as important as attracting people. Maples line the canals, reaching towards each other with branches linked. Beneath them, people meander, stroll and promenade. The Safavids' high standards generated a kind of architectural pole-vaulting competition in which beauty is the bar, and ever since the Persians have been imbuing the most mundane objects with design. Turquoise tiles ennoble even power stations.
In the meadow in the middle of Naghshe Jahan, as lovers strolled or rode in horse-drawn traps, I lay on my back picking four-leafed clovers and looking at the sky. There was an intimacy about its grandeur, like having someone famous in your family. The life of centuries past was more alive here than anywhere else, its physical dimensions unchanged. Even the brutal mountains, folded in light and shadows beyond the square, stood back in awe of it. At three o'clock, the tiled domes soaked up the sunshine, transforming its invisible colours to their own hue, and the gushing fountains ventilated the breeze and passed it on to grateful Esfahanis. But above all was the soaring sky, captured by this snare of arches.(p378)”
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