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In My Father's Country: An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate Hardcover – April 24, 2012
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--Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
"Extraordinary....detailed, lively...A carefully wrought work that allows a rare look inside Pashtun culture."
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Top Customer Reviews
This was, hands down, one of the most incredible memoirs I have ever read. Saima Wahab is an incredibly fascinating woman. She very eloquently, and honestly, tells her story of life as an outsider. She is outside her own culture from the start, determined to never live the docile and subservient life of a traditional Afghan woman. Yet her Afghan and Pashtun upbringing cause her to also be an outsider within American culture.
So often Americans identify what they deem as problems within other countries and cultures, and rush in to try to "fix" things. They discount the etiquette of these cultures, and end up doing more harm than good many times. This book is an interesting glimpse of the Pashtun culture, and how delicate the interactions between Pashtuns and Americans can be. Saima undertakes a great services that honors both her cultures (American and Pashtun), by trying to facilitate better understanding and communication. The Pashtun culture seems so foreign to me, and in some ways backwards, but this book helped me have a greater understanding.
My heart broke for Saima throughout the book.Read more ›
Second, Saima is a hypocrite. (Possible spoiler, to the extent an autobiography can have one) - Saima basically details how a number of American military (and civilian) men love her beauty and exotic look (exaggeration, I'm sure, but maybe not, especially in a place where men have so few options, like a military base in a strict foreign country), and she accepts a number of them, but she then towards the end of the book talks about how an Afghan local working on the base "harasses" her by looking at her at the gym. Since this is against Afghan culture, she creates a huge uproar because she must "defend" her Pashtun-ness even though she doesn't hold Americans to the same standard. She goes out of her way in the beginning of the book to note how she's different from Pashtun women because of her independence and free-thinking and then she literally may have gotten a local man killed for looking at her. It is a very bizarre tale and basically sums up how disconnected the book is when it comes to her character.Read more ›
However, Saima found herself living under the oppressive rule of her uncles, who allowed her none of the freedoms of the new country in which she found herself. After reaching a breaking point with her uncles' judgments and expectations, she decides to move out on her own, facing possibly being disowned by her family. It is then, on her own for the first time in her life, when she begins to consider going back to Afghanistan to discover where she came from and who she is. She is given a chance, a few years later, to serve as an interpreter for the U.S.Army, as she is a rarity in that she is a woman who speaks both English and Pashtu (an Afghani language) fluently. It is through this experience that she is able to discover more about herself and all of the countries in which she lived, then she could have ever imagined.
Perhaps what drives this memoir the most is the spirit and strength of Saima, regardless of the oppressive situations she faced. Her father died for his cause, and she never forgot the price that many pay for the idea of freedom. It is because her father was a progressive that she is afforded a different outlook from the beginning, and is able to defy many traditions, such as arranged marriage.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this book to further my understanding of the female, Afghan, Pashtun perspective and experience. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Katey Schultz
The book arrived in excellent condition. the writer gives us a great glimpse of what growing up in that part of the world is like,Published 12 months ago by petededham
Such a good read. It made me aware of how arrogant we are in our land of freedom. The military could definitely use a book like this as a teaching moment.Published 18 months ago by Rosanne
The book was interesting in that someone born in Afghanistan during the Russian period and then raised in the US would go back to find her roots working for the US military. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Virginia K. Bolton
but WELL worth it. This will allow you to understand why SO much has gone wrong in Afghanistan despite our being there to help.Published 21 months ago by Judy Hornaday
If you read the summary you think that this might be an interesting book, about an Afghan woman who conjures up her bravery and goes back to "Her Father's Country" to help... Read morePublished 21 months ago by T. Eichner
I have a ton of respect for the author and everything that she struggled with. This also gave me a greater appreciation for Afghanistan's culture and how complicated things are... Read morePublished 24 months ago by Allison M Grant