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Christina Lamb - The Sewing Circles of Herat - 2002 I have read quite a few books about Afghanistan in the past two or three years since there seem to be a lot available right now. This was by far the best one of them. (All the others were fiction.) Christina Lamb is a journalist who knows her job. She had been in Afghanistan before 9/11 and then went back straight after when almost no western correspondent was able to get there. She met a lot of people from all sides - politicians, taliban, normal people, especially women. And she gives a great insight into this tormented country. (thread first started 24.04.06)
Christina Lamb has been the Foreign Correspondent of the Year in the British Press Awards and she's written for many British broadsheets on foreign affairs. This book is a collection of her journalism, strung together with more personal pieces explaining the life of a foreign correspondent. I expected to read it piecemeal, but I found it surprisingly gripping and I kept wanting to read more. She gives a really human face to the flak jacket image, while still confirming the observation made to me by a journalist that "all foreign correspondents are mad". Pieces that stood out for me were the ones on the African fattening rooms and the account of looking for Damilola Taylor's house in Lagos. Among many others.