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West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story Paperback – March 1, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
In brief, it is about a hyphenated man - born in Afghanistan by an american mother (the first american mother ever to live in Afhanistan) and an Afghani father. By high-school, he has moved to America and 'loses track' of his Afghani roots - truly Americanized. The real 'blow by blow' of the book comes from a trip he took as a freelance journalist back to Afghanistan to write about it before/during the cold war, and his subsequent return to America, ending with his torn feelings over Sept. 11.
The beauty of this book is that he remains sympathetic both to his Afhghani and American sentiments. While recognizing the hell that the middle east can often seem, he never fails to recall his fond memories of growing up Afghani. At the same time, he dances close to the conclusion that he is, for any intent or purpose, an American first and an Afghani second (without ever really imposing that choice upon himself).
As the other reviewers will tell you, the sparkle that is this book came about after the world trade center bombings. The author, who writes educational childrens books for a living, decided to write an e-mail on Sept. 12 to 'set the record straight' seperating the Afghani fact from the Taliban fiction. Subsequently, the e-mail, which he mailed to 20 or so people, got forwarded enough times that it reached possibly 1,000.Read more ›
Tamim's book will also resonate with anyone who has ever lived in a foreign land, anyone who has ever felt part of two worlds. Tamim is as American as he is Afghan, maybe more even -his mother is American and Tamim has lived in the U.S. for almost forty years. The book will resonate with anyone who has felt the dissonance of being part of two cultures, strugged to reconcile the two, and -as often happens in such cases -faced a crisis of identity and faith. His trip to the middle east and his hunger to revisit Afghanistan will strike a chord with anyone who has ever wondered about their own roots, anyone who has sought to better understand their religion and ancestry.Read more ›
I first heard of Ansary when I got a copy of his e-mail, which the book explained also to have been received by millions of other people. When I saw the book on the library shelf, I almost felt as if this was a personal friend, since I'd gotten his letter. I feel even more that way having read this delightful book.
The first part of this book is about the author's childhood in Afghanistan. He weaves a lyrical myth out of his memories. The paperback version has a lovely addendum about his returning to Afhanistan.
The author also contrasts living in a clan to his basement office in California. There arises a clear dialectic between freedom and potential loneliness in the US on the one hand and having connectedness with a clan in Afghanistan, but considerably less freedom (particularly for women), on the other. This is a fascinating thing for Americans to think about.
The second part of the book was about the author's experiences in the US and as an adult travelling through Muslim countries. We learn that the Ansary surname designates a descendant of the people who helped Mohammed escape from Medina. Reading this Ansary's writings, I wonder if he will help Islam escape from the clutches of those horrible fundamentalists. Ansary has very interesting information about the historical roots of fundamentalism in Islam and dissenters from that fundamentalism. He explains how one can be Muslim and not fundamentalist.
The writing quality is excellent: flowing, congenial, sometimes ironic, often deeply sincere, and with a certain innocence and idealism that is particulary wonderful in a middle aged man. Ansary has the ability to enjoy a great diversity of people, not feeling overly judgmental about any of them. The book is also mercifully short, despite being chock full of information. I never got bored.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Learning about Afghan life was fascinating. ... and the challenges of being part of both the world of America and of Afghanistan.Published 2 months ago by KCF
I enjoyed reading this book, which I chose foe an English project in high school. Ansary provides an interesting and insightful look into what Afghani life was life before the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Sam Cohen
Excellent story to reveal a life that most Americans cannot imagine.Published 6 months ago by Lurie Louise Slater
This is the story of Ansary's life between Afghan and American culture. He landed on the American side, yet is unable to entirely give up his Afghan roots. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Cheryl
This was more of a personal story than an in-depth story about Afghanistan. I was looking to learn more about Afghanistan so it was pretty disappointing.Published 7 months ago by JCG
This should be required reading for every high school student, as this portrays the true and noble spirit of the afghan people, very much in contrast to that provided by western... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Sheril Smith
I needed it for a english class, and it was a pretty good book. I would recommendPublished 10 months ago by Sarah Ledwig