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My Afghanistan: Before the Taliban Paperback – October 1, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
Like one of the principal characters in Caravans: A Novel of Afghanistan, Ellen Jaspar, Jean Boyce-Smith had recently graduated from a prestigious Eastern college. She had married an American however, unlike Ellen Jaspar who had become enchanted with an upper-class Afghan, who was educated in the United States. The author was only 23 when she and her husband embarked on a ship (carrying dynamite for Aramco, in Dhahran!) for Bombay. The year was 1948, one year after Indian independence from the British raj, and the subsequent partition of the subcontinent. Certainly these events complicated their journey to Kabul.Read more ›
The young couple, plowing ever east ward on a converted World War II freighter, soon leave their comfortable country far behind. "The ship moved languidly through seas...from the strong Atlantic blue... to cerulean... to milky azure."
Spicy smells, strange cries, the tinkle of bells assailed their senses as the freighter slid into Jeddah on the Red Sea, and Bahrain, and Bombay. The the last leg of the journey was by a small plane ,and finally a decrepit station wagon that groaned up and down the steep rocky hills through the Khyber Pass to a civilization far, far removed from the rest of the world.
Jean Boyce, the narrator, has in addition to a journalistic eye for detail. a fine sense of humor. She relates that when her possessions went through Afghan customs, the customs inspectors would most certainly find her three padded bras and tell everyone everywhere that Meesis Boyce did not have a thirty eight size bust. She pictured all the merchants in the bazaars laughing at her expense.
Jean taught at a boys' school called Habibia. Her classroom would consist of some 50 boys, ranging from age 13 to 23, the age she was. Many of the older boys towered over her. Young men of all economic circumstances were herded together. Some of these were rich and sported karakuls (a type of cap nearly all the men wore) made out of expensive materials such as fur. Their shoes would be of leather and brightly polished. The poorer students might even be barefoot.Read more ›
This book is rich in sensitivity and revelation about a country always known for its infamous hospitality. In a combination of photographs and asides and diary-like chapters Joyce Boyce-Smith reveals an Afghanistan that is so different form the vantage we at present have - a country whose landscape has been leveled by wars with Russia and with America, riddled by the Taliban, and the topic of debate as to whether or not keeping troops there at the present is warranted.
What Boyce-Smith ((Walt committed suicide in 1968 and Joyce married Perrin Smith, the publisher of this memoir, in 1974 - hence the hyphenated name) did for twenty years was write this tender and vastly entertaining book in her spare time. She died before it was completed - thus the final `author' is her daughter, a facet of this book that makes it that much more sensitive.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book offers the rare adventure of experiencing an immersion in the "otherness" of Afghani culture through the eyes of a smart, enthusiastic, and naive young woman. Read morePublished on April 10, 2014 by Nanuschka
After finishing this book, I am left with a few thoughts. I did enjoy this book, wow, these really were the good old days... Read morePublished on July 14, 2012 by M
If you look at the world today there is no wonder that so many have given up hope. There are unspeakable acts taking place against humanity with no end in sight. Read morePublished on July 9, 2012 by Cyrus Webb
This book, written by the late Jean Boyce-Smith, is a bittersweet memoir of an Afghanistan that no longer exists. Read morePublished on June 15, 2012 by Connie (She who hikes with dogs)
This is the personal story of a 22 year-old recent college graduate who decides in 1948 to go to Afghanistan with her husband to teach Afghans. Read morePublished on June 3, 2012 by Israel Drazin
Jean and Walt Boyce were both in their early twenties when they spent just over a year in Afghanistan - between the last quarter of 1948 and the end of 1949. Read morePublished on June 1, 2012 by Jennifer Cameron-Smith
In 1948, 22 year old Jean Boyce and her husband Walt, partly out of a desire to travel and have some adventures and partly out of need of a job and money, travelled to Afghanistan... Read morePublished on May 21, 2012 by drebbles
"There was nowhere in the country where an American, even a woman alone, could not have traveled at any time in perfect safety ... Read morePublished on May 14, 2012 by Mr. Joe
I have never read a book about anyone who has lived and worked in Afghanistan, so this book instantly drew my curiosity. This book has two things that make it special for me. Read morePublished on May 6, 2012 by Robert G Yokoyama