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Caravans: A Novel of Afghanistan Paperback – September 9, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (September 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812969820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812969825
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (213 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Brilliant . . . an extraordinary novel . . . The old nomadic trails across the mountains spring into existence.”The New York Times
 
“Romantic and adventurous . . . [Michener] has a wonderful empathy for the wild and free and an understanding of the reasons behind the kind of cruelty that goes with it.”Newsday
 
“Michener has done for Afghanistan what . . . his first [book] did for the South Pacific.”The New York Herald Tribune

From the Inside Flap

In this romantic adventure of wild Afghanistan, master storyteller James Michener mixes the allure of the past with the dangers of today. After an impetuous American girl, Ellen Jasper, marries a young Afghan engineer, her parents hear no word from her. Although she wants freedom to do as she wishes, not even she is sure what that means. In the meantime, she is as good as lost in that wild land, perhaps forever....
"An extraordinary novel....Brilliant."
THE NEW YORK TIMES


From the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

As always, Michener spins a great story around history and location.
Pamela J. Herring
(This is a VERY illuminating book to read after September 11th...) The characters are interesting, and the book just zooms along: I finished it in no time flat.
Daniel V. Reilly
He outlines how an American woman and an American man adapt to Afghanistan's Islamic culture. "Caravans" is an excellent novel.
Richard Ballard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

151 of 155 people found the following review helpful By Daniel V. Reilly VINE VOICE on June 9, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't be fooled by the "Harlequin Romance"-looking cover art. Caravans is a ripping good adventure/travelogue/history lesson, with some romance thrown in for good measure.
The story is simple: An American girl who married an Afghani man is missing in Afghanistan. Her family is frantic, and a military man stationed in Afghanistan in 1946 is assigned to find out what happened to her. The story veers into some unexpected territory, and Michener delivers a TON of Historical perspective on the people and places of Afghanistan without ever making you feel like you're back in History class. (This is a VERY illuminating book to read after September 11th...)
The characters are interesting, and the book just zooms along: I finished it in no time flat. My only complaint is the map in the beginning of the book: It's printed so dark that it's totally useless.
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91 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Shirin Raza on April 16, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Michener, James A., Caravans (Ballantine Books, United States, 1963). 438. 1 map. 1 Note to Reader. 0-449-21380-3.
Caravans is the story of an American woman, Ellen Jaspar, lost in Afghanistan after marrying an Afghan engineer. The novel is told through the cooperation of American officials and Afghani leaders to find the missing woman at the pressure of a U.S. Senator. Michener touches upon various aspects of Afghanistan, including women's rights, religious fanaticism, foreign perceptions, and the character of the Afghani people.
James A. Michener found his inspiration for the novel in his personal experiences and travels through Afghanistan. He in fact met many European women who struggled for freedom from the confines of their marriage and Afghanistan. Michener is extremely well-traveled in the region, and furthermore has much diplomatic expertise lending to credible portrayals of Afghani leaders and people in the novel. Hence, his portrayal of the many facets of Afghani culture and politics are credible and well-researched.
The motive of Michener in writing this novel seems unclear at times, as it's adventure-style narrative can obscure the reader's vision of it as more than just a story. Yet, there is some hint of the author's desire to enlighten the world on the deeper character of Afghanistan. Michener strives to shed light on such a perplexing people and culture, that more often than not are judged solely by the negative qualities that appear on the surface (i.e. fanatical mullahs and repressed women). And, by incorporating both Afghani and foreign perceptions of Afghani people and culture continuously throughout the novel, Michener achieves this goal.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read several Michener novels, starting with "Hawaii." I first read "Caravans" some thirty years ago, and since Afghanistan is far from the "back-water" it once was, but has been a major foreign policy concern of the United States, and a focus of our military in a war that will likely exceed the other longest war, Vietnam, I decided to give it a re-read. There is also the personal connection; I once traveled across the country, by local transport, for 11 days in 1971; and my nephew is now with the Marines in Helmund province.

The most stunning aspect of the book is the date it was written: 1963! It is worth saying twice: 1963. At a time when not one American in 500 had heard of the terms "Sunni" and "Shia," and even the few that had may not have been aware of the difference. Yet Michener book is chock full of insights and predictions that came to pass. Consider: (the Afghan, Nazrullah is speaking) "When a thousand men like me have rebuilt Kabul and made it as great as The City once was, either the Russians or the Americans will come with their airplanes and bomb it rubble." Michener was wrong only on the conjunction: instead of "or" it should have been "and." Or consider: "You must not think of Islam as a religion of the desert," Nur warned. "It has much vitality and the world has not yet heard the last of it." Another is: "Don't be afraid of looking stupid, because one of these days we could be driven into war across this terrain, and you'd be the only American who'd ever seen parts of it." And yet one more: (the Afghan leader Shan Khan is speaking) "You Americans seem inordinately preoccupied with the "chaderi" (now normally referred to as the `burka').

The novel is set in 1946, before Pakistan was a nation, and the British still ruled India.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Richard Ballard on September 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Caravans" is the story of how Afghanistan's Islamic culture affects an American female student and a U.S. embassy male staffer.
Afghanistan's Islamic culture has desert roots. Desert survival requires a strong leader. This requirement has made Islam a patriarchal culture. Michener describes how Islamic culture fits the harsh desert environment. He outlines how an American woman and an American man adapt to Afghanistan's Islamic culture.
"Caravans" is an excellent novel. Michener's characters are well-developed. Michener lived in Afghanistan. He understands its people, its culture, and its environment. I recommend this book.
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