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In the Valley of Mist: Kashmir: One Family In A Changing World Hardcover – June 9, 2009


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In the Valley of Mist: Kashmir: One Family In A Changing World + Curfewed Night: One Kashmiri Journalist's Frontline Account of Life, Love, and War in His Homeland
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (June 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439102899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439102893
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #256,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hardy (The Wonder House) draws on her 12-year relationship with the Dar family to recount the story of modern-day Kashmir—part pastoral idyll, part war zone. Hardy writes, There is no single casualty of war, no one noun that sums up what has been lost, and she paints a moving portrait of the ravaged communities and landscape, weaving in analysis of how the political machinations of Pakistan and India have quelled or intensified the conflict. She contrasts the sleepy valley she encountered decades ago to the Dar family's Kashmir, which has witnessed the 1989 uprisings and strikes, martial law, deadly encounter killings, mass migrations of Pandits (Kashmiri Hindus), increasing religious orthodoxy and the widespread disruption of education, health care, economic prosperity and family and social life. Hardy's deep familiarity with the region—she has reported on the Kashmir conflict for close to 20 years—allows her to present complicated and conflicting points of view from reformed jihadists, Indian generals, Pandit refugees and various members of the Dar family. Her reporting is admirable and gilded by lyrical prose and evocative description. (June)
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About the Author

Justine Hardy currently writes for The Financial Times. She is the author of The Ochre Border, Scoop-Wallah, Goat, Bollywood Boy, and The Wonder House. She divides her time between London and Kashmir.


More About the Author

Justine Hardy has been a journalist for twenty-seven years, many of those spent covering South Asia. She is the author of six books ranging in subject from war to Hindi film: The Ochre Border, 1995, was about the reopening of the Tibetan frontier-lands. Her second, Scoop-Wallah, 1999, was the story of her time as a journalist on an Indian newspaper in Delhi. It was short-listed for the Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award 2000 and serialised on BBC Radio 4. Goat: A Story of Kashmir and Notting Hill, 2000, was an inside look at life in Kashmir and Notting Hill, a war zone and a white hot corner of London drawn together by the latter's obsession with the fine pashmina weave of the Kashmir Valley. This was also serialised on BBC Radio 4. Bollywood Boy, 2002, was an international bestseller in which the Hindi film industry was the vehicle for a closer look at the obsession with fame as it crept West to East, and the darker side of an industry pumping out high-octane escapism for an audience of over a billion. The Wonder House, 2005, is a novel set in Kashmir against the background of the conflict, and based on Justine's experience of frontline coverage, time spent in militant training camps, and amongst the extremists. It was short-listed for the Authors' Club best first novel in 2006. In the Valley of Mist, 2009, a return to non-fiction and the subject of Kashmir, charts the first twenty years of the conflict there through the prism of Kashmiri family life. It was also broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week, and it was Runner-Up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2010. Justine's books have been translated into a wide range of languages, from Hindi and Serbian.

In 2008, Justine founded Healing Kashmir, an integrated mental health project addressing the debilitating mental health situation in the region. This project is now expanding rapidly, with a health centre, outreach programmes, a suicide helpline, and a leadership programme. In addition to running the project in Kashmir, she lectures regularly in the UK, US and India. Recent lectures have included The Oslo Freedom Forum, New York University (Gallatin School), Tufts University (Institute of Global Leadership) and The Royal Geographical Society. Justine has been studying Eastern philosophy, yoga, and conflict trauma all through her adult life. She teaches yoga and philosophy in the UK and in India.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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We can only read and hope things will be better in the future for Kashmir.
Charles W. Long
Author Justine Hardy's story of that beautiful and sad region both educated and inspired me.
B. McEwan
She sometimes seems to be trying too hard to be expressive and ends up sounding flowery.
Happy Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Every gun that is picked up, every bullet that is fired, is killing our paradise."

So says one member of the Dar family, an extended clan of four brothers, their aging father -- Hajji Papa -- and their children and cousins, trying to survive in conflict-torn Kashmir. As vividly portrayed by Justine Hardie, this is a land of unparalleled beauty, where the hard edges of the nearby mountain ranges soften into gentle meadows and finally reach the lakes of Srinagar. But for the last two decades, it has been the focus of a guerrilla war between Kashmiri separatists and Indian military forces, a conflict that has driven the Hindu 'Pandit' portion of Kashmirs population away from the homes they inhabited for centuries and into refugee camps outside Delhi, as well as driving rifts among the remaining Muslim inhabitants.

Hardy, who has been familiar with Kashmir since her earliest visits as an adolescent, uses the changes within one of those families, the Dars, as a way to write about the changes within the Kashmir Valley itself. She has known them for as long as the conflict has persisted, has stayed on the houseboats the Dars own on Dal Lake in good times and in bad, and has helped Mohammed Dar set up and run a relief and rebuilding operation in the wake of the 2005 earthquake. Probably few 'outsiders' have both her journalistic talent for telling this kind of story, or the kind of access that transforms what could have been a foreigner's view of another conflict "in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing" (to borrow Neville Chamberlain's infamous view of Hitler's invasion of Czechoslovakia) into something much more compelling.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really wanted to like In the Valley of Mist, Kashmir: One Family in a Changing World. I enjoy reading about distant countries and especially, different cultures. But as I read, I kept thinking how dry this book actually was. I can't say that it was boring, but it wasn't exactly engaging, either.

Hardy follows the Dar family through the trials and tribulations of modern-day Kashmir. The Kashmir Valley is reported to be one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Throughout history, it has also proved to be a political Eden. "The Poetry of the Valley's past is that it was a heaven on earth, a place of such gentleness that those who lived there did so in harmony, most particularly the Muslims and Hindus, the doors of their homes were open to each other, their festivals shared, some of their saints interchangeable." But that was before the insurgency where India, Pakistan and extremist Muslims began fighting over the fate of this beautiful country.

But this strife is mainly a backdrop for the Dar family--a Muslim family of carpet sellers and houseboat owners. Mohammad is the patriarch and it is through him that Hardy gets to know his family. She follows their personal lives as they deal with simple things--like weddings and educating to their children, to the more serious issues of war, earthquakes and corrupt government workers. Some chapters are more interesting than others. I especially enjoyed reading about the upcoming wedding of Mohammad's daughter. I know that Hardy has emotional ties to Kashmir and the Dars, but I don't think that this came through in her book.

One suggestion for In the Valley of Mist would have been to publish at least some of the photographs in color. Kashmir is a beautiful country, but you can't tell from the photos.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Crease in the Page on July 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The first chapter is about an item of clothing worn by all Kashmiris. This is an unusual way to start a story, almost boring, but after reading the entire book and understanding what the people of Kashmir have experienced, I can see why the author would want to start with an idyllic, unifying subject.

The story quickly plunges into mayhem as Kashmir seeks freedom from India and Pakistan, Pakistan helps them fight India, which morphs the conflict into a battle between Islam and Hindu, and an entire generation is raised knowing little more than war and loss. Just when the war-exhausted people begin to form some sort of normalcy, a severe earthquake strikes.

Justine Hardy's writing style is simultaneously poetic and politically revealing. She is an amazing investigator, managing to get behind borders and earn the trust of all sides.

But I was confused throughout much of the book. I needed a diagram of the terms "insurgent," "militant," "security force," "jihadi," "army," "police," "soldier," and so on; I was constantly wondering who was doing what--which side are we hearing from now? I could also use a diagram of the Dar family... twenty-five members and counting, but I never could figure out who was what or even if we were still discussing a member of the Dar family or some other random person. And I needed a time-line that Hardy could refer to every time she started a new paragraph--she jumped between decades back and forth.

Finally I decided not to try to approach this book as a coherent narrative, but rather as an interpretive dance. That worked quite well for me. Justine Hardy has given us a feel, a gestalt, a song about the trouble in Kashmir, and she has done an excellent job of it.
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