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The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban Paperback – June 26, 2007
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Her conclusions are both alarming and disheartening. She comes to believe that Pakistan is the root cause of political instability in Afghanistan and that through its support of warlords it uses resurgent Taliban forces to manipulate and regain control of large parts of the country. More discouraging is the author's portrayal of President Hamid Karzai as an intelligent, gifted, and cultured man who is often ineffectual as a leader.
The book is framed by the account of an assassination of the Kabul chief of police, a man of unusual integritiy and ability (hence the book's title) and its subsequent coverup as a suicide bombing. Set against him is the power-hungry and corrupt governor of Kandahar, who has won the confidence of the Americans while secretly amassing a fortune that he uses to fund a private army, meanwhile working deals with Pakistan to keep alive the threat of Taliban terrorism that makes the Americans even more dependent on him.
There are large swathes of Afghan and Persian history woven into this modern-day accounting, which reveal patterns of political and cultural forces at play that go back to Alexander the Great. Vividly written, the book provides a disturbing portrayal of failed leadership on the part of both the U.S. and the current government in Kabul. Read it and weep.
The frame of the book is the assassination of her friend Akrem, the Kabul police chief, the single best official she met in Afghanistan. It is publicly announced as the work of a suicide bomber. Chayes, who has by this time left NPR and returned as head of a private aid effort, investigates and disagrees.
A really valuable book. I read it pretty much straight through.
Part memoir, part murder mystery, part history text, and part reportage with commentary on the politically charged process of nation building, this book invites readers along on a treacherous but extraordinary journey toward the creation of democracy in a country that for the past few decades has been ravaged by war, corruption, and brutal regimes. Ms. Chayes chose to remain in Kandahar after reporting for NPR on the fall of the Taliban there because she believed that the only way to reverse forces that conspired to create 9/11 and other similarly heinous events was to "get this right." And so, in an urgent act of faith and bravery, she traipsed across the globe, alone, to help run Afghans for Civil Society - an NGO founded by a previously exiled brother of the U.S. backed interim President Hammid Karzai.
After many months of tireless work under harsh conditions, the narrative tone shifts from idealistic and hopeful, to wary of a new government that relinquishes power to duplicitous warlords, to deep skepticism, to abject disillusionment, to a more personal and ultimate decision to persevere in the face of unyielding obstacles.Read more ›
Afghanistan is a mystery country to westerners. It houses beautiful mosques (look for Mazar-i-Sherif and the white doves/pigeons), photogenic people (think of the National Geographic picture of the young Afghan woman), and lost treasures (remember the Buddhist statutes destroyed by the Taliban in Banyan). Chayes goes beyond all this into the culture and soul of the country. She knows some of the languages of Afghanistan and can talk and, more importantly, listen to people. Chayes tells us the story of values, fate, and the mass of distinctions that the Mideast and Afghanistan force upon us.
This story of modern Afganistan after the Taliban helps the thinking reader see the variety in this desert landscape - the individual power cells, the memories, the hopes, the promises, the evasions, the frowns behind the smiles, the oasis in the wasteland.
Chayes finds good intentions everywhere, praise everywhere, lack of carry thru everywhere, and scorn everywhere. Everyone is everything! This is beyond current politicans. The Afghan situation requires vision and love and caring for the people.
Well written, well documented, and certainly passionate, "The Punishment of Virtue" captures a moment in time that is for all time. A good read that will become an essential read in the future.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sarah Chayes is one of my favorite writers. I feel like I have a much clearer understanding of the complexities of Afghanistan.Published 17 months ago by Ace Sophia
Wonderfully written giving the perspective of someone with practical experience embedded within the actual environment within Afghanistan and interacting with individuals living... Read morePublished on August 19, 2014 by Objectivity
I was so pleased with the information I read, discouraged with the impact of our participation in the war, but more upset with the fact that we appears we had only poorer choices... Read morePublished on May 4, 2013 by Robert S. Key
Sarah Chayes' provides an excellent look at America's post-9/11 involvment in Afghanistan. Chayes' portrayal of how Gul Agha Shirzai became the governor of Kandahar province and... Read morePublished on January 4, 2013 by John C. Lowrie
The Punishment of Virtue is an excellent look at post-September 11th actions, and from a wider perspective the consequences that most foreign policy actions have to those on the... Read morePublished on January 10, 2012 by Jennifer E White
I believe the publishers misrepresented the book. The cover and reviews portray the work as an analysis of post-2001 Afghanistan, and an indictment of the errors of the US military... Read morePublished on January 1, 2010 by M. D. lebeau
A terrific story, painful to read because of the many wasted opportunities. I wish this book were on any commander's reading list. Read morePublished on November 4, 2009 by Amazon Customer