Top positive review
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An amazing voyage of discovery through a little-known land
on 25 June 2003
Reading this book was akin to falling in love!...the only way this reader, at least, can describe the emotions generated by Jason Elliot's erudite, passionate account of his intense journey through Afghanistan. His journey is lyrically revealed and the reader drawn to share it with a vividness and understanding only a writer of such descriptive genius could engender. In tandem with his physical journey, Jason also reflects spiritually on his experiences which somehow lifts this personal journey into a universal context and pulls the reader even closer into feeling empathy and human brotherhood with not only the author, but the Afghanis themselves and their country.
I'd pick up this book every time with unfailing excitement, joy and curiosity as to where it would take me next, and what I would discover. The sense of warmth with which the author distills his story is overpowering and infectious. He clearly loves the country, its people, its culture and its language dearly, and much of this affection cannot but be rubbed off onto the reader. Alternatingly thoughtful, comical, scholarly and intimate, the spectrum of emotion and experience traversed is so wide, as to produce a true feeling of bonding between reader, author and subject-matter.
The book generated in me a two-pronged opening of the heart - one, to this amazingly beautiful and hospitable country, and two, to the author - whose erudition in the background of the country, its history, its language (even to the extent of reading and writing Persian) and culture left me with uncalculable respect for him. (Quite apart from being such a nice bloke and interesting companion, that it's a real pleasure to spend hours in his company!) The reader is imbued throughout with the sense of security that here, at last, is a travel book written from the point of view of someone who truly understands his subject and in my opinion, is as close to it as any foreigner could ever be. Only someone with this much familiarity with, and passion for, Afghanistan in its entirety, could have been able to travel so extensively under such conditions. Which is why another emotion insidiously joined the others as I read on - envy!
Most importantly, from my original position of ignorance due to a common shameless twinge of Western prejudice, I now feel I can understand and respect the richness of Islam and will never again judge this religion, or those who practise it, by the benchmark of the few extremists we Westerners are given a daily diet of on TV, which in itself I would say gives the book great social value.
Altogether an amazing read - or rather experience. I had a true feeling of wistful parting when I found to my dismay that the book was almost finished!