Under the Taliban, women in Afghanistan had been confined to their homes and forbidden education. Afterward, cautiously venturing out, they found friendly refuge in Deborah Rodriguez’s Kabul Beauty School, where they shared a bubbling women’s culture of which their men knew nothing. The author taught her skills and also offered real help; a woman who’d been raped as a child feared that her future husband, discovering she was not a virgin, would renounce their marriage. A vial of chicken blood helped solve the problem.
The Places In Between, by Rory Stewart, recounts a 500-mile solo hike in winter on mountain trails--- Herat to Kabul. A bearded Scotsman who spoke
After the World Trade Center attack, Afghanistan became the country where Osama bin Laden had trained his fighters. The Outpost, by Jake Tapper, describes attempts to set up an American outpost in Nuristan, a mountainous province with few roads near the Pakistan border. Village elders, proud of ancestors who’d defeated Alexander the Great, the British, the Russians, openly or secretly supported a relentless insurgency while the Americans tried to convince them that they were not like those other invaders.
President Bush talked about "gretting" bin Laden, invaded Iraq istead, leaving our
Trying to foster a counter-insurgency by turning locals against radical groups, including Islamists who’d fought the Russians with CIA-supplied arms, now fighting the U.S.with Russian arms, Americans faced daunting odds. Many deemed the very idea of so isolated an outpost a mistake, from the one-stripe Specialist who prepared a Powerpoint presentation, to Lt. Colonel Joe Fenty, commander of 3-71 Cavalry, 10th Mountain Division, who accepted it as a personal challenge. Mountains on three sides, trucks toppling off roads too narrow even when not washed out, helicopters without landing sites, many killed, more wounded, it was a surreal war with a ghostly yet deadly enemy.
One month after Lt. Col Fenty telephoned his wife, who had just given birth in a Fort Drum hospital delivery room and heard his newborn daughter’s first cry, his Chinook hit a tree trying to land in an undersized field, and he was killed.
(More on Afghanistan in the next post)