- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Metropolitan Books; First Edition edition (March 21 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805078843
- ISBN-13: 978-0805078848
- Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 567 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,092,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Kabul in Winter: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan Hardcover – Mar 21 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
In February 2003, Jones and her fellow NGO relief workers watched with disbelief and horror as Fox News declared the American war in Afghanistan a success—the Taliban totally defeated, all Afghan women "liberated" and the infrastructure completely restored. The reality they knew on the ground in Kabul was starkly different. Jones (Women Who Kill) presents her version of the events in this fascinating volume, which tours Kabul's streets, private homes, schools and women's prison. The political and military history of Afghanistan, as well as its cultural and religious traditions, inform Jones's daily interactions and observations. Describing an English class she taught, for example, Jones says, "Once, after I explained what blind date meant, a woman said, 'Like my wedding.' " Jones focuses particularly on Afghan women, whose lives are often permeated by violence. Her sharp eye and quick wit enable vivid writing, as when she witnesses a fistfight from her traffic-blocked car: an old man hit by a cyclist socks the cyclist, a young man punches the old man, then a traffic cop joins and socks the young man. Seconds later, all get up and continue on their way. (Mar. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In this chilling account, Jones, a native New Yorker, recounts her experiences as an aid worker in prisons and schools in post-Taliban Afghanistan. While she explores many elements of Afghani culture (including the macabre national sport of buzkashi, in which horseback riders battle for possession of a dead calf), the subservient status of Muslim women is the topic that interests her most. She evokes a world of outcasts, from war widows to prostitutes to runaway child brides. Ninety-five percent of Afghan women are subject to violence: they are bought and sold, beaten and raped, preyed upon and betrayed by their own flesh and blood. Jones, a frequent contributor to the New York Times, occasionally gets bogged down in too much historical detail, but her impressions are vividly rendered: "Kabul in winter is a state of mind, a mix of memory and desire that lifts like dust in the wind to hide from view the world as it is." This achingly candid commentary brings the country's sobering truths to light. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com
Much like Frances Fitzgerald's "Fire in the Lake" about Vietnam, "Kabul in Winter" helps make Afghanistan understandable!
Some reviewers have criticized Jones's account as naive, asserting that she does not take into account the political realities surrounding Afghanistan, but that is exactly the reason that I found her book so compelling. From Jones we get no excuses or rationalizations as to why Afghanistan is a perennial pawn in the "great game" of world power. And she makes few apologies for a culture that dehumanizes women and girls, the first step to making it OK for men to trade and treat them like animals (or worse). Jones tells it like it is, which is a very different story than we get from governments and the entrenched international development professionals. Jones was an eyewitness to how big development plans play out on the ground, and she relays her truth in a style that is as unsparing as the rigid, tribal rules that impede progress.
This book is wrenching and at times painful to read, but I argue that it is important for anyone who wants to have a full view of our world today and the events that are currently shaping it. While it's clearly true that Ann Jones has an alternate take on the reasons behind Afghanistan's present, foul condition, hers is a voice that needs to be heard and her subjects are people whose stories deserve to be told.
The author went to Kabul after the war against the Taliban in order to help get education for women up and running. Besides being a teacher, Ann Jones is a reporter, and she has done a lot of research for this book in addition to the actual time she spent teaching.
Having been one of the horrified people who wrote letters to Jimmy Carter when we supplied Stinger missiles to the Mujahadeen, I am well aware that both American political parties contributed to Afghani problems. Studying some of the history is required in order for us to pick our way gradually out of this flawed country while still leaving it better than we found it.
To blame the imperial powers (Russia, the US and Britain)for the problems in Afghanistan is way too easy. The book makes clear that there is a corrosive element to Afghani culture that needs to be gently excised as we help build schools and plant orchards. (We do plan to plant orchards, don't we?)
This book should be required reading for all policy makers from Obama and Biden to the State Department.
Every person in the USA should read this book.
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