Melinda'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
Mar 13, 2012

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bookshelves: history, biography, worth-owning, american-history, middle-east, middle-east-history, non-fiction, political
Read from March 13 to May 01, 2012

I picked this book up to read because the author also wrote a book on Islamic history that I thought was worthwhile (see ). Always wanting to know the background of the historians, I decided to read about the author himself.

Tamim is the middle of three children, all born in Afghanistan. His oldest sister who lived the longest in Afghanistan, has become the most western. She lives in the United States, is married to an American, and has chosen not to keep up with anything from her Afghan heritage, including being a Muslim. His youngest brother, who lived only 6 years in Afghanistan, became the most interested in embracing his Muslim heritage and even studied in Pakistan. A comment from their father was that Riaz had become more devout as a Muslim than even he was comfortable with! Tamim is the middle child who still wants to enjoy the cultural richness of his Afghan upbringing alongside of the freedoms he has come to cherish from living in the United States.

This clash of worldviews has resulted in a fracturing of their family. The author's brother sent him copies of articles and brochures explaining what he, as an active Muslim, now believed. This included a world wide conspiracy involving the all-seeing eye of the Masonic founded Illuminati (see the pyramid and all-seeing eye on the dollar bill), and also explained how all the true Jews are really dead and have been replaced by fake Jews. Since all Jews alive now are fake Jews, and since they have stolen Palestine, then they all deserve to die. It was this last point that the author confronts his brother with, and demands to know if his wife (who is Jewish) deserves to die. His brother replies only that "they stole the land" which of course implies that they all should die. This divides brother from brother, and reflects in great part the divide that the author wrote about in his book on Islamic history. Islam is not democracy friendly and cannot co-exist with western freedoms.

So this is a worthwhile book to read, because it brings to a family level the struggles we see between countries. The author, even though he was raised in a Sunni Sufi Muslim tradition, has rejected all expressions of his religious heritage and lives now as a cultural Muslim who embraces the freedoms of the West.

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