Few westerners will ever be able to understand Muslim or Afghan society unless they are part of a Muslim family. Twenty years old and in love, Phyllis Chesler, a Jewish-American girl from Brooklyn, embarked on an adventure that has lasted for more than a half-century. In 1961, when she arrived in Kabul with her Afghan bridegroom, authorities took away her American passport. Chesler was now the property of her husband's family and had no rights of citizenship. Back in Afghanistan, her husband, a wealthy, westernized foreign college student with dreams of reforming his country, reverted to traditional and tribal customs. Chesler found herself unexpectedly trapped in a posh polygamous family, with no chance of escape. She fought against her seclusion and lack of freedom, her Afghan family's attempts to convert her from Judaism to Islam, and her husband's wish to permanently tie her to the country through childbirth. Drawing upon her personal diaries, Chesler recounts her ordeal, the nature of gender apartheid—and her longing to explore this beautiful, ancient, and exotic country and culture. Chesler nearly died there but she managed to get out, returned to her studies in America, and became an author and an ardent activist for women's rights throughout the world. An American Bride in Kabul is the story of how a naïve American girl learned to see the world through eastern as well as western eyes and came to appreciate Enlightenment values. This dramatic tale re-creates a time gone by, a place that is no more, and shares the way in which Chesler turned adversity into a passion for world-wide social, educational, and political reform.
In 1961 renowned feminist, professor, and psychotherapist Chesler was as a young, intellectually curious Jewish woman intent on rebellion and freedom. She envisioned her marriage to a man she met in college, a Westernized Muslim from a wealthy Afghani family, as a romantic adventure filled with travel and intellectual pursuits; however, their visit to Afghanistan quickly turned into a living nightmare as Chesler became confined to the harem at his luxurious family compound. My unexpected house arrest was not as shocking as was my husband s refusal to acknowledge it as such, Chesler writes. The author divides her engrossing memoir into two sections: her time as a young bride living with of one the wealthiest families in Afghanistan and struggling to return to the United States, and her husband s attempts to force her return to Afghanistan. Chesler candidly relates her continuing friendship with her former husband and his family over the last 50 years, detailing how life in Afghanistan forged her feminist perspective and how 9/11 altered the original focus of the memoir. Chesler adroitly blends her personal narrative with a riveting account of Afghanistan s troubled history, the ongoing Islamic/Islamist terrorism against Muslim civilians and the West, and the continuing struggle and courage of Afghan feminists.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A great story by an interesting and wonderful woman. Very well balanced, placing blame on no one, just giving the facts and her response to them. Anyone who has ever been in a similar situation of being trapped should feel their heart race when reading this account. A book that actually takes you somewhere and teaches you something.
An American Bride in Kabul
This is a fascinating memoir and warning.
She jumps around a bit and is somewhat repetitious, but it is powerful and we'll worth reading. Tremendous insight!
Read another book if you're looking for a story
The author Phyllis Chesler spends more time making references to other books than telling her own story. The account of her time in Afghanistan takes up a small portion of this book, and it is told rather hurriedly. The rest of the book is spent going around and around with arguments and counter arguments as to the problems the world faces due to radical Islamists. She offers no concrete solution and places no unilateral blame. The only thing I took away from this book was do your research first...find out about your boyfriends culture before you marry, learn about a country before you invade it, and read more reviews before you buy a book.