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' floors, shared their meals, and listened to their stories of the recent and ancient past. Along the way Stewart met heroes and rogues, tribal elders and teenage soldiers, Taliban commanders, and foreign-aid workers. He was also adopted by an unexpected companion: a retired fighting mastiff he named Babur in honor of Afghanistan's first Mughal emperor, in whose footsteps the pair was following. Through these encounters, by turns touching, confounding, surprising, and funny, Stewart makes tangible the forces of tradition, ideology, and allegiance that shape life in the map's countless "places in between".More
Why we think it's Essential: Imagine a stout-hearted adventurer weaving a magical tale by the campfire, and you'll get a sense of Rory Stewart's account of his solo walk across Afghanistan. Full of memorable characters, evocative settings, visceral danger, and valuable insight. Steve Feldberg
"An engrossing, surprising, and often deeply moving portrait of the land and the peoples who inhabit it." (Booklist)
"The well-oiled apparatus of his writing mimics a dispassionate camera shutter in its precision." (Publishers Weekly)
"If, finally, you're determined to do something as recklessly stupid as walk across a war zone, your surest bet to quash all the inevitable criticism is to write a flat-out masterpiece. Stewart did. Stewart has." (The New York Times)
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