From Publishers Weekly
In 2000, Spanish journalist Tortajada and two companions set out to see for themselves the effects the Taliban had on Afghan women's lives. This account of the three weeks they spent among Afghan refugees in Peshawar, Pakistan, on the way to Afghanistan and the four days they spent in Kabul captures intimate moments, conveying not just suffering and pain but also joy and beauty. With a composed tone, Tortajada allows readers to find their own rage. They'll transcend their status as mere observers of burkas to become uncomfortable wearers. Closer in spirit to a series of letters than a diary, this work covers such diverse subjects as wedding customs, governance in the camps, rug weaving, medical crises, the activities of women's groups and the neglect of international agencies. Tortajada makes vivid a world that offers Internet cafes but lacks running water. Guides and guards merge in this place where the harrowing legacy and overshadowing power of the Taliban touches everything. Although Kabul may have changed since September 11 and American intervention, the Taliban have not. Tortajada's denunciation of it is still timely and pressing. B&w photos not seen by PW
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Spanish writer Tortajada hears an Afghan refugee speak at a League of People's Rights conference in Barcelona and decides that she must see the camps for herself. She also plans to write a book about her experiences and to donate the profits to the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). In August 2000, therefore, she and two companions journey first to a refugee camp in Pakistan and then to Kabul. The women stay with a refugee family in Peshwar, Pakistan, where they visit clandestine women's literacy classes, embroidery shops whose workers are searching for European markets, and a brick factory, where even children work all night. In Afghanistan they visit underground schools and women's health and literacy classes, see the soccer fields where executions still take place, and witness the ongoing search for land mines, often traveling after dark to avoid discovery by the Taliban. This unforgettable diary sheds new light on a crisis overshadowed by more recent world events. Deborah DonovanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved