KABUL IN WINTER: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan
By ANN JONES
After September 11, 2001, Ann Jones watched with dismay as America answered with violence, starting with the bombing of Afghanistan, “a pre-destroyed country,” as she puts it. Frustrated and angry, she decided to leave New York, the city that was her home, for Kabul, determined to bring help where her country had caused destruction. She went back, again and again, sent by humanitarian aid organizations eager for her to work in Afghan schools, prisons, and homes. An acclaimed authority on women and violence, Ann Jones wrote KABUL IN WINTER: Life Without Peace in Afghanistan (Metropolitan Books; March 21, 2006; $24.00; 224 pages) during her third – and coldest – winter in Kabul, vividly bringing alive the day-to-day life of a country whose future depends so much upon our own.
Jones first finds work in Kabul’s notorious women’s prison, and then re-training Afghanistan’s rusty teachers. She enters a large community of Afghans: runaway child brides, pariah prostitutes, a multitude of war widows, impoverished lawyers and doctors, taxi drivers, and the countless ex-fighters, looking for a new line of work. In the streets and markets, she hears the Afghan view of the supposed benefits brought by the fall of the Taliban and America’s “democratizing” intervention. She learns that the tensions inherent in a culture that regards women as less than human have deeper roots than the laws of any one regime. Finally, Jones confronts the ways in which Afghan education, culture, and politics have repeatedly been hijacked by various factions, from communists to Islamic fundamentalists to the enlightened forces of the Western free-market, always with disastrous results.
Jones’ immersion in Kabul’s public life presents an eye-view of the Afghan people that has not yet been depicted-an image which is angry, profound and starkly beautiful, all at once.
Ann Jones is the author of Women Who Kill, Next Time She’ll Be Dead, and Looking for Lovedu. An authority on women and violence, her work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times and The Nation.
Praise for KABUL IN WINTER:
“[H]er impressions are vividly rendered . . . this achingly candid commentary brings the country’s sobering truths to light.” -Booklist
“Her sharp eye and quick wit enable vivid writing…” -Publishers Weekly
“A passionate-often grim-account of a country and a people trying to find peace after decades of war.” -Kirkus Reviews