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Editorial Reviews

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
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Publisher's Summary

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".
©2006 Rory Stewart (P)2006 Recorded Books LLC
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Critic Reviews

"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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By James on 08-09-07

Nice Choice

This book provides a glimpse into a deeply foreign culture almost all of us will never see or penetrate otherwise. Afghanistan may be a desperately poor, largely illiterate country, but that doesn't tell the whole story. If you want to learn a little more about the complexity of modern Afghanistan, Rory Stuart is a good guide. He's not an apologist for the Taliban or some kind of latter day neo-colonialist, he generally just tells his story straight and lets you draw your own conclusions. Nor is this some incredible adventure story filled with narrow escapes and tales of daring do. Stuart knows he is doing something incredibly dangerous but is very matter-of-fact about the whole thing, even when he comes close to getting killed.

The perspective is somewhat unusual, in that he's walking from village to village, and in each spot he picks up little bits of the culture and the people and shares them as he goes. So the picture that emerges is never fully formed, not completely linear or organized. He doesn't pre-digest and organize everything for you. Yet somehow by the end of the book, you feel as though you've learned something of the place and its people, something you could have only learned through his unique perspective.

Read by the author himself and he does a nice job with it.

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kimberlee Joos on 01-26-07

A Brilliant Work of Nonfiction

This is among the top 10 audiobooks I've ever listened to, and probably one of the top 3 nonfiction audiobooks I've heard (Night and Ireland are the other 2).
Stewart's writing style and oratory are clear, easy to listen to and very effective at creating a crisp, clear mental image of the events as he relates them. I almost felt as if I were walking with him.
He also manages to relate all this information without editorializing, or sounding preachy.
I have come away from this with a much clearer knowledge of the ethnic people and terrain of Central Afghanistan. I have also developed a great respect for Mr. Stewart's calm storytelling and knack for observing subtleties in people of different ethnicities. I now want to read his latest book, The Prince of the Marshes, just to hear more of his wonderful stories.
Great book--I strongly recommend it.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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