in the UK
A gold-inscribed invitation to a wedding in Pakistan led Christina Lamb to leave suburban England for Peshawar - a town perched on the frontier of the Afghan war - at the age of just 21. Captivated by the Afghans she met, for two years she tracked the final stages of the mujaheddin victory over the Soviets as Afghan friends smuggled her in and out of their country in a variety of guises - from burqa-clad wife to Kandahari boy - travelling by foot, on donkeys, or hidden under the floor of an ambulance. Long haunted by her experiences in Afghanistan, Lamb returned there after the 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre to find out what had become of the people and places that had marked her life as a young graduate. This time seeing the land through the eyes of a mother and experienced foreign correspondent, Lamb's journey brings her in touch with the people no one else is writing about: the abandoned victims of almost a quarter century of war. Among them are the brave women writers of Herat who carried on the literary tradition of this ancient Persian city under the guise of sewing circles; those persecuted by the Taliban such as Kabul's leading kite-maker, imprisoned for making the colourful paper kites that fly from the rooftops of the city; and Khalil Ahmed Hassani, a former Taliban torturer who admits to breaking the spines of men, then making them stand on their heads. This text is a poignant memoir of her love affair with the country and its people.
Publisher and industry reviews
'"The Sewing Circles of Herat" opens a window on to the deeply unromantic horrors of Taliban-led Afghanistan and, less troubling for the squeamish, tells the remarkable stories of those who dared to defy that particularly vile regime!Lamb writes with pace, conviction and honesty, uncovering both the terrible human cost of the Taliban experiment and the enduring strength of spirit of those who refused to join it.' Justin Marozzi, Sunday Telegraph 'Award-winning foreign correspondent Christina Lamb has written an inspiring and moving account of Afghanistan's plight!Lamb shows that, despite attempts to destroy the country and its culture, its soul remains uncrushed.' Marianne Brace, Independent on Sunday 'A lucid, intimate, haunting book, which sings the song of Lamb's love -- and the tragic plight of a defiant and divided nation.' Sunday Times 'The definitive account of modern Afghanistan! This is a lucid, intimate, haunting book, passionate yet never self-indulgent, which sings the story of Lamb's love -- and the tragic plight of a defiant and divided nation.' Rory Maclean, Sunday Times 'Deeply penetrating, informative and always engaging! Through the dispiriting events under which Afghanistan continues to be submerged, Lamb continually finds delightful people who have latched on to the fact that Faith is an ecclesiastical word for credulity, and offer some hope for the country's future.' Cal McCrystal, Financial Times 'Lamb has a curiosity that demands she listen to anyone -- warlord, reluctant torturer, Pakistani intelligence officer, family of the last man hanged! And beyond the door of the "Golden Needle Ladies' Sewing Classes" in Herat, Lamb is awed by that cultured city's resistance! which, as [she] understands, matters more than pages of guns and rubble.' Veronica Howell, Guardian 'A remarkable blend of outrage, compassion and hope, Christina Lamb's book is an alternately horrifying and uplifting insight into the Taliban regime.' Justin Marozzi, Evening Standard
UK Kirkus review
There's no doubt that Christina Lamb has the credentials to write a book about the current state of Afghanistan. Now an experienced and award-winning foreign correspondent she first visited the country in her early 20s to cover the final stages of the mujaheddin's fight with the Soviet army and returned there after September 11 2001 to see how subsequent events had affected the people she once knew. The premise of the resulting book is good. Lamb was prompted to return to Afghanistan by a series of letters smuggled out to her by a young Afghan woman during the Taliban's reign of terror. She sets out to find her and help if she can. Lamb is extremely well connected - her first visit to Afghanistan was prompted by an invitation to Benazir Bhutto's wedding, she has been (erroneously) romantically linked with Imran Kahn and one of her mujaheddin friends is Hamid Karzai, now President of Afghanistan. She has many fascinating stories to tell - most movingly of the sewing circles of the title, which formed a cover for the woman writers of Herat to discuss literature without punishment. But somehow her personal experience never really comes to life. Perhaps the hopelessness of Afghanistan's position got to her, and no one would expect the inevitable stories of tribal warfare, extreme sadistic violence, repression, greed and fatalism to make easy reading. However, Lamb does not seem able to turn her undoubted journalistic expertise into the softer, more reflective style that's needed for a successful personal memoir, and the result is a book that's interesting and readable but feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. Lamb's a talented writer, but her real skill lies in writing about others, not herself, and her future work may mean less to her personally but will probably be a better read. (Kirkus UK)
Other books by this author See all titles
You save: £2.00
Customers who bought this title, also bought...
You save: £2.00
You save: £2.40
You save: £1.80
This book can be found in...
The prices displayed are for website purchases only, and may differ to the prices in Waterstones stores.