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The places in between
Rory Stewart
Adult Nonfiction DS352 .S74 2006

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From Publishers' Weekly:

We never really find out why Stewart decided to walk across Afghanistan only a few months after the Taliban were deposed, but what emerges from the last leg of his two-year journey across Asia is a lesson in good travel writing. By turns harrowing and meditative, Stewart's trek through Afghanistan in the footsteps of the 15th-century emperor Babur is edifying at every step, grounded by his knowledge of local history, politics and dialects. His prose is lean and unsentimental: whether pushing through chest-high snow in the mountains of Hazarajat or through villages still under de facto Taliban control, his descriptions offer a cool assessment of a landscape and a people eviscerated by war, forgotten by time and isolated by geography. The well-oiled apparatus of his writing mimics a dispassionate camera shutter in its precision. But if we are to accompany someone on such a highly personal quest, we want to know who that person is. Unfortunately, Stewart shares little emotional background; the writer's identity is discerned best by inference. Sometimes we get the sense he cares more for preserving history than for the people who live in it (and for whom historical knowledge would be luxury). But remembering Geraldo Rivera's gunslinging escapades, perhaps we could use less sap and more clarity about this troubled and fascinating country. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Scottish journalist Stewart trekked across Afghanistan shortly after the Taliban's fall and offers a rare opportunity to learn about a country much in the news but relatively unknown to most Americans. Fluent in several languages, Stewart communicated with an array of people and could quickly perceive hostility or danger. The trip followed the footsteps of Babur, a 15th-century emperor, whose quotations enrich the book. Stewart found a beautiful but violent land and learned more about its geography, history, religion, and politics from villagers, soldiers, rebels, and relief workers whom he encountered. The author demonstrates his fabulous way of handling difficult people and situations through a combination of brashness and humility. Near the end of this journey of survival, he befriends Babur, a retired fighting mastiff. Stewart is one of those rarities-an author who is also a splendid narrator. His accent and pronunciation of words from many languages are brilliant. Every library striving for a timely collection must add this title.-Susan G. Baird, Chicago (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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