The Places Inbetween by Rory Stewart is a great work of literature and one of my favorite reads this year. This is a non fiction work detailing the author’s walk across Afganistan in 2002 just after the Taliban was “ousted” by the United States. He weaves the tales of his travels with a true cultural understanding of the area an a wonderful way. I found that this book was a good guide to get a really accurate and true account of the way things are over there right now. This book was actually recommended to me by the lady at Barnes and Noble when I asked about the sequel to The Kite Runner. It isn’t due out until May, but she recommended Stewart’s book in its stead. Good call. I will admit, since our choice as a country to be entangled in this new Middle East conflict, I have had a interest in learning more about the anthropology and culture of the region. Kite Runner was a wonderful beginning to learning about Afghanistan before the Taliban, and not Stewart’s book fills in the aftermath of what 25 years of war does to a culture.
The book, though really being a collection of edited journal entries, doesn’t read that way. Stewart is an elloquent writer and he has tied all of the entries together seamlessly. He gives the reader a good background about the cultural practices, and his own opinions as well, all at the same time telling a beautiful and captivating story of his actual travels. He includes drawings he made in his journal, along with a few pictures as well, adding to the imagery. Truthfully I am envious of travel, and I hope that one day I can do something similar (though this river work has its talking points too).
I highly recommend this book to a reader who wants to truly learn more about the culture and country of Afghanistan and the rest of the middle east. It is a relevant work that is well written, and speaks volumes to the reader.