Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Far from the Taliban’s grim desert strongholds, the country we visit with Terry Glavin is a surprisingly welcoming place, hidden away in alleys and narrow streets that bustle with blacksmiths, gem hawkers and spice merchants. This is the unseen Afghanistan, reawakening from decades of savagery and bloodletting.

Glavin shows us how events have unfolded in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. Travelling with fluent interpreters and Afghan human rights activists, Glavin meets people from many walks of life—key political figures, teachers, journalists, farmers, students, burqa-shrouded women and soccer players—and in these pages they speak for themselves. And in the life story of Afghan-Canadian writer, translator and activist Abdul Rahim Parwani, he finds the story of Afghanistan’s agonies over the past 30 years.

Glavin draws parallels between the west's unawareness of Afghanistan and the shock that greeted the "Arab Spring" uprisings of recent months. He writes about the little-known events that led up to "Koran burning" riots in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, and explores the Afghanistan that is hidden behind fanciful stereotypes of the kind at the centre of the scandal surrounding Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea, a title marketed as a memoir that has turned out to be largely fiction. Glavin also notes that although Mortenson is a massively best-selling author and celebrity in the English speaking world, few Afghans have ever heard of him. The irony, he says, is that North Americans turn to Mortenson's book for uplifting stories about Afghanistan, when all along there are true stories in abundance of courageous Afghans working for rebuild their country from decades of war.

Celebrated as “a critical voice in the dialogue that sustains a civil society,” Glavin is active with the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee and is increasingly seen as an expert on Canada’s role in Afghanistan. He is also one of the best writers we have.

Come from the Shadows mounts a passionately, marvellously readable challenge to the usual depiction of the war in Afghanistan. What, Glavin asks, has made the West incapable of hearing the voices of Afghans at the forefront of the global struggle against slavery, misogyny and tyranny? His answers are often unexpected and always illuminating.


Blogger Susan said...

This book sounds like both a good overview of current Afghan reality and a detailed description of daily Afghan life of which most of us know little.

Mr. Glavin's being Canadian adds an extra expectation of credibility, because Canada as a country is less hysterical and more peaceable than "the leader of the free world," the USA.

My only critique of this marketing piece is the broad brush used to include Mr. Mortenson: Does Mr. Glavin REALLY need this ugliness in order to sell his book? There goes my expectation of credibility!

8:05 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

You mean "Mr. Mortenson," the liar, thief, multi-millionaire rip-off artist? Gee. Mustn't question my betters, must I. . .

5:23 PM  

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