THE CARPET WARS is foreign correspondent Christopher Kremmer's riveting and timely account of a decade spent living, travelling and reporting from Asia and the Middle East. During his time reporting from Asia and the Middle East he formed an obsession with carpets and the 'perfect rug' - an obsession that saw him trace the threads of the carpet-making trade through the Islamic nations of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. Along the way he made lifelong friendships, but he also discovered societies ripped apart by war, religion and fratricide, and ruled over by warlords like 'the Lion of Panjsher' Ahmed Shah Massoud - and terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. tHE CARPEt WARS tells the story of Kremmer's amazing journey and his fascinating but fraught experiences in one the most ancient, misunderstood and least-touristed parts of the world.
An Australian journalist who's covered the Middle East and Central Asia for 10 years, Kremmer travels through Pakistan, India, Tajikistan and other countries, following the paths of the carpet trade, the region's largest export industry after oil. The carpet is both his entry point into these largely Islamic worlds and a symbol of the rich tapestry of cultures that he discovers, but Kremmer isn't bound by this narrow focus: he talks not only to rug merchants and others involved in the trade, but to students, politicians, cab drivers and heads of secret police. Obviously enamored of the region and its peoples, Kremmer lovingly describes the rituals and texture of their lives, from tea ceremonies to the clamorous bazaars. At the same time, Kremmer weaves in a great deal of history, both of the 500-year-old carpet trade and of the political upheavals in the area since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Whether in Baghdad or Peshawar, he shows how strife in the form of the Gulf War's aftermath and the tyrannical rule of the Taliban affects the economic fortunes of his subjects. Though somewhat sprawling, this work is a standout for its lucid historical overviews and, more importantly, the dramatic, intimate depictions of daily life.