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My Forbidden Face: Growing Up Under the Taliban - A Young Woman's Story

4.3 out of 5 stars 55 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: ISIS Audio Books (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753115344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753115343
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,738,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

My Forbidden Face frames a fragment of Afghanistan's bloody history through the eyes of its author, Latifa. Now 22, Latifa was 16 when the Taliban seized power in 1996. Overnight, Afghani women were stripped of their aspirations, their pleasures and their freedom. She describes the sudden change that transformed her home into her prison and her clothes into symbols of shame in evocative yet matter-of-fact tones. The facts are familiar to us from countless articles and petitions but reading them here in a personal account brings home the state of abject fear Afghani women had to adjust to as the new reality of their lives. Every day Radio Sharia, the Taliban's mouthpiece, would broadcast harsh new decrees to bind the confines of peoples' lives ever tighter. The severest restrictions were reserved for women: they were forbidden to go out unaccompanied by a male relative--which meant poor widows risked beatings and even death, they were forbidden to work or to go to school and even forbidden health care--since that would have meant being treated by a man. From being an educated, outgoing girl who dreamed of becoming a journalist, Latifa was plunged into sickness and depression. But somehow, this timid--and by Western standards--sheltered girl, finds the enormous courage to start running a "school" in her living room--just as her mother, a nurse runs an illicit surgery for women from their home. This combination of naivety and worldliness makes Latifa's voice extremely poignant. My Forbidden Face is a powerful, readable little book you will want to absorb in one gulp. Not only does it give a voice to the nameless sufferings of so many but its bravery and determination are inspiring lessons to us all. --Rebecca Johnson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Her descriptions of watching videos in secret, listening to the radio in terror lest she be caught and hovering on the edge of a black hole of depression during what should have been the liveliest years of her life give a very human face to the known facts of how the most repressive government on the planet operated. (IRISH INDEPENDENT)

A salutary read for any Western woman, and one that makes you appreciate the freedoms we often take for granted. (GLAMOUR)

A poweful and poetic account of life under the Taliban. (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

This thoughtful and affecting account...questions the complacency of Western feminism which has forgotten the many women across the world who still have nothing. (DAILY MAIL) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 21 July 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book on the recommendation of an Amazon reviewer who compared it to "Bookseller of Kabul". I agree that "My Forbidden Face" gives another side of the same story, as the author even lived in the same neighborhood as the bookseller. Both books, however, are written by women--women of comparable education and expectations, but of completely different circumstances. Latifa, unfortunately, did not have the luxury of packing up and leaving when the story was over. When the Taliban took over Kabul, terror and depression soon overtook disbelief. Latifa was studying to become a journalist and begins writing down events to keep herself sane. The personal emotion is balanced with political facts and well-considered opinions, her personal narrative being used as a powerful supporting example of the political struggle being played out before her. She repeatedly points out inconsistencies of the Taliban decrees with the teachings of the Koran and gives a commendable outline of the unfolding political dramas.
Eventually she can be passive no longer. She risked her life to fight against the brainwashing that passed for education under the Taliban and to help her mother care for women who could not legally obtain any healthcare. The fact that this story can even be told is something of a miracle in itself.
The terrifying thing about this book is that it is NOT a story, it is a masterful piece of journalism--and we would do well to read it as a cautionary tale. Latifa's life, all too similar to ours, is completely overthrown, not by religious fanatics, but by power mongers using religion as a guise for their own ends. In the wake of the London bombings (7/05), with the hindsight of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, this book should serve as a powerful reminder that what brutality reveals is a lust for power, no matter how loudly it cries of religion.
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Format: Paperback
This book is fascinating, moving and very well written especially compared to the dry, war and politics Taliban non-fiction books out there. Latifa deals with what it is like to live under the Taliban as a human and especially as a female- her formally liberal Islamic traditions are brought to halt by the new regime and the book deals with her anger, disbelief and depression which this caused- her voice is all of Afghani women.
I completely disagree with the reviewer who says this doesn't give enough insight- statistics and positions of army units detailed in other books add nothing to the human feeling displayed in MFF. Only a familiar, oh-so-human voice like Latifa's can bring the troubles home to us in the West who cannot picture what life was really like under the Taliban.
Latifa mentions some of the Taliban's atrocities but does not need to use long lists of punishments, decrees and tortures to support her feelings- and is it necessary for books to do so? The writing style of MFF is simple, moving but never gratuitously melancholy. I don't know what the reviewer means when they say Latifah is detached from what's going on and unemotional- do they want stereotypes of wailing, hair ripping Islamic women? As Latifa says- Afghanis' are proud people.
Latifa's life story in Afghanistan under the Soviets and Taliban is harrowing and will stay with you for a long time. There is a strong sense of humanity in her story, however. This book will change your ideas if you are unfamiliar with Islam and the Middle East and, although in some places a frightening read, defiantly worthwhile.
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Format: Paperback
This book is fascinating, moving and very well written especially compared to the dry, war and politics Taliban non-fiction books out there. Latifa deals with what it is like to live under the Taliban as a human and especially as a female- her formally liberal Islamic traditions are brought to halt by the new regime and the book deals with her anger, disbelief and depression which this caused- her voice is all of Afghani women.
I completely disagree with the reviewer who says this doesn't give enough insight- statistics and positions of army units detailed in other books add nothing to the human feeling displayed in MFF. Only a familiar, oh-so-human voice like Latifa's can bring the troubles home to us in the West who cannot picture what life was really like under the Taliban.
Latifa mentions some of the Taliban's atrocities but does not need to use long lists of punishments, decrees and tortures to support her feelings- and is it necessary for books to do so? The writing style of MFF is simple, moving but never gratuitously melancholy. I don't know what the reviewer means when they say Latifah is detached from what's going on and unemotional- do they want stereotypes of wailing, hair ripping Islamic women? As Latifa says- Afghanis' are proud people.
Latifa's life story in Afghanistan under the Soviets and Taliban is harrowing and will stay with you for a long time. There is a strong sense of humanity in her story, however. This book will change your ideas if you are unfamiliar with Islam and the Middle East and, although in some places a frightening read, defiantly worthwhile.
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Format: Paperback
Having read the Bookseller of Kabul (same author) I bought this following a recommendation. I'm aware of Afghanistan's political history but had never considered how women felt to have their lives stripped away from them. This book is eye-opening and inspirational.

An excellent read.
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