Above the Din of War
Afghans Speak About Their Lives, Their Country, and Their Future—and Why America Should Listen
Most books about the war in Afghanistan examine the conflict from the perspective of a foreign correspondent, political analyst, or US soldier, but Above the Din of War focuses on the people of Afghanistan themselves, providing a forum in which the thoughts of everyday people can be considered. Having traveled the country for a year, Peter Eichstaedt draws out Afghans from all walks of life: a former warlord, a Taliban judge, victims of self-immolation, courageous women parliamentarians, would-be suicide bombers, besieged merchants, frightened mullahs, and desperate archaeologists. The book explores a country that both vexes and fascinates the world and relates what its people have to say about living through 30 years of continual unrest, violence, and negative international attention. From his time spent interviewing and living with the people of Afghanistan, Eichstaedt proposes American and NATO exit strategies that could avoid leaving Afghanistan mired in chaos and war. This thought-provoking title from a journalist’s point of view adds a human element to this complex international situation.
A veteran journalist and former Afghanistan country director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in the Hague interviews a cross-section of Afghans who are invariably passionate, articulate, and free with vivid but sometimes unsettling opinions on the international conflict that has descended on their homeland. Shopkeepers complain about the ongoing violence, Taliban leaders boast about their "swift" and "free" form of justice, and officials try to explain the country's quandary. Both sexes but especially women tell terrible stories of injustice, cruelty, and murder. But some evince hope for a brighter future; female parliamentarian Shukoria Barekzai, though exhausted, exclaims, "I love to work with the truth." A sophisticated observer, Eichstaedt (Consuming the Congo: War and Conflict Minerals in the World's Deadliest Place) steps back frequently to emphasize recurring themes, and in the obligatory how-to-fix-it finale, he argues convincingly in support of regional partitioning, but admits that it's unlikely to happen. These are vivid, mostly sympathetic portraits of Afghans who have weathered decades of chaos, and though a solution still seems far-off, Eichstaedt has done a great service by bringing their perspectives to the American public. 32 photos.