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Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse: The True Story of a Woman Who Risked Everything to Bring Hope to Afghanistan (Voice) Hardcover – June 21, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: Voice
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; First Edition edition (June 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401341314
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401341312
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,120,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A moving message."—Kirkus

"[A]n absorbing memoir."—Booklist

"[A] well plotted, fluid narrative."—Publishers Weekly

"For years, Suraya Sadeed has worked tirelessly to help the people of her war-scarred homeland. This terrific memoir is the story of her struggles, her sacrifices, and her hopes. It is the moving life story of a remarkable woman who has overcome personal tragedy and has made it her single-minded mission to bring hope, relief, and a measure of happiness to the brutalized women and children of Afghanistan."—Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

"I read this book in one gulp. I couldn't put it down. Suraya Sadeed is an amazing woman who has done what few others have dared, or cared enough, to do. Her life is inspiring, and so is her life story--this riveting, clear-eyed book."—Mir Tamim Ansary, author of West of Kabul, East of New York

"Wisecracking beneath her burka, [Sadeed] talks her way into horrific refugee camps, creates a clinic for women (they must skulk in by a secret door) and illegally starts a girls' school in a windowless basement. This former businesswoman turned full-time activist lives what she fervently believes: that education is more powerful than 'the bullet and the bomb.'"—More

"An adventure story with heart that tells Sadeed's (the founder of the charity Help the Afghan Children) inspiring fight to bring aid, education, and peace training to Afghan citizens."—East Bay Express

About the Author

Suraya Sadeed was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan and immigrated to the United States after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. She founded Help the Afghan Children in 1993 as a response to the humanitarian crisis she witnessed on a trip to her home country during the height of the Afghan Civil War. Since then, Suraya's work has been recognized and honored at the highest levels of government in both Afghanistan and the United States. She has appeared on such programs as the Oprah Winfrey Show and NBC's Weekend Today Show, and her story has been written about in Readers Digest and the Los Angeles Times Magazine as well as a film documentary Inshallah, Diary of an Afghan Woman, produced for the Oxygen Channel. In March of 2006, Suraya's work was recognized by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush at the White House for her work in Afghanistan.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 20 customer reviews
This book will change your views on people there, and give you much to think about your own life as well.
Sheri Newton
From a literary standpoint, I didn't feel that the writing was particularly strong or beautiful, and often the descriptions sounded a bit cliche.
Nicole James
Little by little and never giving up on what one believes is what anyone will walk away with upon reading this.
Kim P

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Frances Connell on June 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Suraya Sadeed always does the impossible, in her feisty but gracious, focused but generous way. Through the non-profit agency she founded, Help the Afghan Children, she braved otherwise insurmountable financial, transportation, communication, military and cultural barriers to bring humanitarian aid to Afghan refugee and Afghanistan's most desperate people in the post-Soviet withdrawal, during the blood-letting mujahadeen civil wars when the rest of the world had largely forgotten her ancient war-torn homeland. She established secret schools and clinics for girls and women under the long-noses of the largely misogynistic and ignorant Taliban rulers; and carried in thousands of dollars to deliver via horseback, mule-train, rusty helicopter and foot to remote northwest provinces decimated by earthquakes. She brought food and fuel to thousands displaced from their homes and squeezed into a narrow zone between Taliban and Northern Aliance fighters, as the U.S. forces bombed from above and other aid agencies fled. She initiated national model schools, curricula and teacher-training; and painstakingly assembled community support and involvement to build state-of-the art schools across Afghanistan where children are benefiting from a rich curriculum, as well as classes in computers, environmental studies, and peace and conflict resolution.

Equally unfazed by an audience with the late king of Afghanistan, a luncheon with former President G.W. Bush, or a confrontation with a Kalashnikov-toting Talib on an eerie glass-shattered Kabul hotel balcony, Sadeed never loses sight of what is real.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sheri Newton on September 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse by Suraya Sadeed is an inspiring story about how much life can change, and what we can do about it to help. The author shares her unforgettable story about the Afghan people, and in doing so, really shakes up what you probably once thought about the people there.

This is the kind of book that will keep you reading it until you finish it. Be prepared to have that kind of time when you start, because you won't want to stop reading this once you get started.

Suraya Sadeed does an amazing job with telling her story about being an Afghan refugee, and then coming back to the country to find how much things have changed for the people she once knew there. Most Americans don't get such a look into the lives of the people in Afghanistan, especially how the women there are treated. This book will change your views on people there, and give you much to think about your own life as well.

It is an inspiring tale that really shows just how strong this woman (and others like her) is that can go in and help make positive changes in the world. I highly recommend this book for everyone to read.

* Thank you to the publisher of Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse, Voice, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By gail on June 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I LOVED THE BOOK and savored every page. It is fascinating, inspiring, spiritual---I could go on and on. She is amazing. I think it will be a best seller and a movie!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Melissa S on April 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book tells a different story than what Americans usually hear from the middle east. The lives torn apart by war and the dimming futures for an uneducated generation will inspire you to help their cause and think differently about Afghanistan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jean MacDonald on July 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read many books about personal stories of people in Afghanistan but this one was special. I was really impressed with her "just go for it" spirit. She is in the combined world of understanding her homeland and appreciating her life here in America. I was very moved with her reaction following 9/11 and am totally impressed with her commitment to improving the conditions of the people who are truly the victims. She is bringing awareness to an area that deserves our attention. Great read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pat Gallagher on April 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
So often, memoirs go into yawn-o-rama history of family or country. This book most definitely does not.

"Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse," by Suraya Sadeed, starts right off in Afghanistan and stays there, with some flashbacks to the author's life in America and Afghanistan that are quite frankly fascinating, but she always brings you back to her journeys to help the people there. A really good book; I recommend it highly.

You will love the Afghan people as much as she does.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sandra on January 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I highly recommend reading Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse by Suraya Sadeed. The book is in some ways a linear narrative of Suraya's personal journey from being a suburban wife, mother, and business woman to a highly effective international aid worker. But that is only the beginning, the narrative is full of insights about the history, culture, beauty, and complexity of Afghanistan. It glows with the stories of committed Afghans and foreigners who are working to build an alternative in Afghanistan built on respect and access to knowledge for all, and a vision of hope for the future. People have risked everything during the darkest of times to nurture those high ideals and continue to work to provide health care, education, and opportunity for those who are most neglected.

When I read the book there were times I laughed out loud, held my breath for Suraya's safety, and shouted hurray when she was successful; but mostly I felt grateful to Suraya and her team for continuing their work for the Afghan people despite the risk, the heart break, and the overwhelming need. I wish that all the policymakers in Washington would read the book, while it doesn't offer simple answers it does testify to the resiliency of the human spirit and the possibility for a peaceful Afghanistan.
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