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The Places in Between [Hardcover]

Rory Stewart
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Jun 2004
In 2001, Rory Stewart set off from Herat to walk to Kabul via the mountains of Ghor in central Afghanistan. This is literary travel writing, but with a greater element of adventure and danger. It is an account of what it is like to travel painfully and slowly on foot in an alien and hostile landscape.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (4 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330486330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330486330
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 13.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 702,044 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rory Stewart was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Malaysia. After a brief period in the British army, he joined the Foreign Office, serving in the Embassy in Indonesia and as British Representative in Montenegro, Yugoslavia. In 2002 he completed a six-thousand-mile walk from Turkey to Bangladesh. His account of crossing Afghanistan on foot shortly after the US invasion, The Places In Between, was published in 2004, drew widespread acclaim, and was shortlisted for that year's Guardian First Book Award. He was awarded an OBE in 2004 for his work in Iraq, which is recounted in his book Occupational Hazards. He now lives in Cumbria.

Product Description


'Rory Stewart must have balls of steel. But he writes like an angel all the same' -- Giles Foden

'This is an astonishing achievement: a unique journey of great courage' -- Colin Thubron

'This is travelling at its hardest and travel-writing at its best: a most perilous journey recounted with skill and understanding' -- David Gilmour

...A laconic but moving account of his heroic walk through Afghanistan. -- Simon Gray in The Daily Telegraph, November 2004

From the Publisher

Adapted for the afternoon play on Radio 4 and Radio Times
Radio Choice of the Day.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
121 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Afghanistan on a shoestring 21 Jun 2004
When I read in early 2002 that Stewart was setting off from Herat to walk across the empty centre of Afghanistan in mid-winter I wrote him off as a dead man. I was wrong, and this is the account which explains what happened on that walk. Ismail Khan, no less, shared my profound doubts, as Stewart explains in his opening chapter.
Another reviewer has suggested that Stewart's account of his difficult, dangerous and fascinating journey still pales in comparison to that classic, Robert Byron's Road to Oxiana (who drove the route). I would argue that this is a great modern travel book, however, for three reasons. First, its honesty. Stewart makes clear how far he walked and when. There is no attempt to disguise a couple of weeks' experience as a great journey (viz Jason Elliott's An Unexpected Light, which I none the less enjoyed). He freely admits the times when he is wrong, stupid or unlucky. He does not pretend to speak the language fluently (though his self-admittedly patchy Farsi reveals endless insights). Secondly, its humour. Where Byron set up the 'natives' in set-pieces of condescendingly picaresque farce, Stewart allows the spirit and character of Afghans to speak for itself. So while it made me laugh out loud again and again, I never felt that he was milking the episodes or laughing at the characters. Thirdly, its literary quality. The account is highly focussed on the politics, local history and personalities as encountered place by place on the walk. This could have made for a rather dry, plodding account but the neat serialisation of events in bite sized chapters maintains the pace and style.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By Heather Negahdar VINE VOICE
"Someone in Kabul told me a crazy Scotsman walked from Herat to Kabul right after the fall of the Taliban"

Thanks for the book. For it was indeed a journey of great spirit and determination. Mr. Stewart was well prepared for this trip with vitamins and various medications he knew would be necessary to successfully complete this challenge; ibuprofen, antibiotics, just name it and he had it; sharing with the villagers he met on his way when they saw what he had and begged him.

Well written, well told. I was truly impressed with how hospitable the people of Afghanistan were; those whom he encountered and offered him rest and meals and at times water to wash with, at their various humble abodes where he was invited to stay for the night. Even through they understood little English, Mr. Stewart was able to communicate to them by speaking Persian. I love reading about anything in the Eastern and Asian side of the world, so I was with him all the way. I felt like I was alongside him as he climbed those steep slopes and when he walked on the flat valleys. I drank tea with Mr. Stewart from glass cups, ate stale bread with him and soup, and enjoyed the rest at the end of the day, sleeping on a carpet or just on the floor.

The attention given to him was enormous as he persevered onwards. My main concern was just before he got to Kabul when he had to travel through the deep powdery snow which was known to cause frostbite, making it necessary to amputate limbs for some in the past. I held my breath as he and his dog companion Babur made it out of the snow covered mountains, and alas into another bright day. God bless you Rory Stewart.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting book 11 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
How to review such a book for a general audience, not least because I am not expert on Afghanistan and so a member of that general audience.

I like to walk and was therefore interested in the story of a man who crossed Afghanistan on foot from East to West by the mountain route in winter. I know when I am outclassed and I felt it by page 2; but I enjoyed the book none the less. I didn't, for instance, think it an odd thing to do make that walk. I found it quite comprehensible.

The more I learned about Rory Stewart, the less - on principle - I liked him. Primarily, he is a Conservative and that makes him deeply suspect to me. Secondly he warms to soldiers and their jolly humour.

After I had read it, I mentioned the book to one who does know a lot about Afghanistan; and he seemed dismissive but in an odd way. After a few exchanges, he said "He's MI6" Really? "Of course, he is"

I had not thought of that.

I can't see any evidence in the text and I can't see a slant; but maybe I am being stupid.

Of the book itself, I cannot speak too highly. I have already spoken of it to a group who meet intermittently to discuss books they have read.

I learned a great deal. I would have learned it more permanently and a lot better if the maps had been up to it. They are good maps but inappropriately presented; and now I really have little sense of the journey in map terms, to use a lumbering phrase. I coped; but I could have been helped.

A substantial part of the book concerns his relationship with the dog Babur; and that was done well. It could have been sentimentalised; but Stewart reaches out in his writing to this animal with something approaching empathy and certainly with respect yet without sentimentalising.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Prompt delivery. Haven't read it yet beyond the first ...
Prompt delivery. Haven't read it yet beyond the first few pages, which seem intriguing and typical of the author. Book in condition described.
Published 21 days ago by Steve Law
5.0 out of 5 stars What Next ; A Walk Through UK Politics?
My purchase of this book was set off by a recent TV program on Borderlands, and by accession of the author to the UK House of Commons Defence Committee. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robert Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Amazing read.
Published 1 month ago by Ken
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Well written and a fascinating under the table look at life in a very backward country.
Published 1 month ago by Peter Crump
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting account by an interesting man
This is not travel writing as usually understood. More a documentary of a journey through dangerous and rather barren lands. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Parklands
5.0 out of 5 stars The places in between
Excellent insight into the author's arduous journey across Afghanistan! A must read for anyone who admires human determination and spirit!
Published 2 months ago by Kevin Farley
5.0 out of 5 stars The places in between
Wow, what a great read. A raw and honest account of a fascinating journey through Afghanistan. A Highly recommended book.
Published 2 months ago by Sandy Sharp
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
Great read. Not super exciting but just a good genuine book about the authors travels through Afghanistan. Read more
Published 2 months ago by warriorz
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent but different travel guide - most enjoyable
I really enjoyed reading this book and learnt more and more about Afganistan the deeper I got into the book. A brave adventure.
Published 3 months ago by Henry Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Everyone should read this book. I was moved to tears at the end. I have bought it several times to give a gifts and everyone loved it.
Published 3 months ago by Nina Lane
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