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on 27 March 2018
This is a brilliantly written, engaging read, but it has to be one of the most monumentally depressing books I've ever read. The fact that it's based on real characters and real events makes it doubly depressing.

It's an interesting picture of one family living in Kabul shortly after the Taliban, and keeps the reader involved, but there isn't a shred of joy or hope in the entire book. Each of its characters (except perhaps the main character Sultan) is trapped - miserable and unfulfilled - in a life they neither wanted nor chose.
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on 25 March 2012
I'm amazed at the access Asne got to all the members of the family, I know she says that she heard the stories and events from many different people before she wrote about them, she stayed with the family throughout and no doubt found it difficult to stay quiet when seeing how the women were treated by their men folk. A lot of similar stories have been told in our press since 2003 but nevertheless this is a book that will still cause eyebrows to rise at some of the events depicted. I've read the reviews that doubt the veracity of the journalism, I'm in two minds about this, I want to believe in the honesty of the author but feel strongly for those who believe that the stories are embellished to make Afghanistan look bad. Since I hope that a journalist would be loyal to her craft and the subsequent stories that emerge compelling I'll rate it as a compelling read and give it 4 stars.
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on 1 September 2017
Illustrating the impossibility of living under the Taliban. This book is a combination of observation of a Kabul family with all its restrictions and religious taboos and a historical commentary on Afghanistan. A total eye opener!
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on 17 November 2017
Wonderful read. Author is insightful and balances a story-line of serious events with the drama and comedy of family life. Each characters story was interesting, some heartbreaking, and kept me intrigued throughout. Fantastic read
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on 28 May 2011
An excellent insight into life in Kabul and neighbouring areas. Culturally enlightening in it's day to day look at ordinary lives in a world where women are secondary to men and sometimes even animals. Doesn't attempt to evoke horror or outrage in the way women and children are treated, it simply tells the tales. The last chapter saw my heart sink and my hope that one day things may be different for these people. From now on, when I see a female in a Burka, instead of seeing an item of clothing, I'll see the misery and sadness that lies beneath 'the stinking smell of' their own sweat.
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on 6 February 2018
Very interesting - finding how Afghans treat their women folk - the country might progress if only they used the talent of the women and not let EGO ruled their lives.
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on 8 February 2013
I would not have selected this book but I read it for my book club. I was totally fascinated to learn how people live in Afghanistan. The book is well written and is broken down to a story in each chapter.

It's about a fairly wealthy family (wealthy by Afghan standards) and reveals a totally different family way of life compared to Britain. It reveals a family structure and way of life which is completely alien to a UK family. I would have liked to have learned more about the awful conditions of poorer families which was hinted at. Nevertheless a book which everyone should read, especially those who moan about life in the UK!
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on 20 July 2016
This is the first book I have ever read by asne seierstad and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Some narratives had me in stitches and others had me tearing out my hair. That is how a good author should enact
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on 12 February 2017
Gruelling and fascinating, this account of a family living in Kabul brings up-close the hardships of living under religious and paternal authoritarianism.
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on 10 September 2010
I could not put this book down once I had started reading it.Having read the book A Thousand Splendid Suns, I am very interested in gaining further unbiased knowledge about the brutal Taliban. All politicians should read this book for it certainly opened my eyes to the problems that Pakistan have in controlling the tribes that rule a huge area and the Pashtoon in particular. Having read this book it changed my view about role of Pakistan in their handling of the Taliban.
This book is certainly not as gripping as A Thousand Splendid Suns but it provides greater insight into the political problems of the tribal areas.
I highly recommend this book and look forward to further reading on the topic.
Any budding historian or politician who wants to understand the complex issues involving the ruling tribes with their constant feuding over centuries will gain greater wisdom and understanding on the subject.
This book is a most enjoyable read and in spite of the subject it made me laugh several times.A Thousand Splendid Suns
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