West of Kabul, East of New York
Tamim Ansary
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buy *West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Reflects on Islam and the West* online West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Reflects on Islam and the West
Tamim Ansary
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
304 pages
April 2002
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Knowledge is power. If you have power, you have the ability to control. People, events -- whatever you want. In the days we now live, the main thing to control is fear. Fear -- the mind killer -- it can reduce even the most sophisticated person to animalistic behavior. Foaming at the mouth, ranting and raving about revenge and justice.

Curled Up With a Good BookThe only way to control the fear is to confront it head on. Admit the fact that we are afraid and of what or who and go from there. Get the mastery over our fear, but how? Through knowledge.

As an Afghan-American, Tamim Ansary understands this necessity. The need to regain the control of our lives that was obliterated when twin towers fell. Ansary tries to inform people about their new enemy, Afghanistan. What's it really like to live in that country? What do the people enjoy doing? How do families live, whatís their day-to-day life like?

Ansary has an Afghanistan father and American mother and lived in Afghanistan for many years. As many people of mixed races, he didnít fit in either place; a foreigner everywhere he went. After the tragedy of 9/11, Tamim Ansary was so shaken up and consumed by fear and confusion that he sent an e-mail to some of his friends venting his emotions out through his keyboard. They sent it to their friends, who sent it to their friends, who sent it to their friends, and so on and so on.

Suddenly Mr. Ansary was a mini-celebrity, speaking to millions about the real Afghanistan and its people. It just didnít seem to feel right; the words he spoke during interviews werenít enough. Being a writer and making his living with the mighty pen, he naturally turned his thinking to writing a book. Thus West of Kabul, East of New York was born. An effort to make people understand. An effort to defend a part of the world unknown to far too many, to make them see the humanity that lies within.

Ansary explains what life was like for him growing up in Afghanistan as a child of mixed race. How it felt to go back and watch a beautiful country get raped, not once but twice, first by the Soviets and then by a radical Islamic movement. How it felt to come to America and struggle to make a life here and then have it ripped away by other peopleís actions.

This book does what itís meant to: reveal what itís like for normal Afghanistan people. The ones who work too hard to care about other countries, let alone to want to leave family and friends to go to war. I felt so much sympathy for these people, who live so poorly but who have to suffer even more because of a select few lost to their rage and ideals. This book provides a key to moving on that is so desperately needed. It provides knowledge, which leads to understanding, understanding to compassion and compassion to hope. Hope leads.

© 2002 by Kim Lightfoot for Curled Up With a Good Book

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