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Silent Trees: A Novel of Afghanistan by…

Silent Trees: A Novel of Afghanistan

by Nasir Shansab

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Silent Trees: Power and Passion in War-torn Afghanistan, by Nasir Shansab, is a haunting story of a country on the verge of chaotic collapse. Most of the book is set in the late '70s, before the Soviet Invasion. It is told from the viewpoint of several major players, most notably the businessman Habib Dhil.

Despite assurances from American acquaintances that things are 'stable' in his home country of Afghanistan, Dhil has the intuition that this is not the case, and that the fragile stack of cards that is a corrupt government is about to come crashing down.

Other viewpoints include Maggie Reed, an American lover of Dhil's, Miriam, another lover, and two of Dhil's friends, Anwar Haq and Alam Gol. Each is connected to the other, and we hear each perspective of this interwoven story. I was very quickly drawn into the lives of these characters. There were no 'heroes' among these them. They were average, everyday people trying to survive in harsh circumstances. Some of them did some pretty horrible things, yet I still found myself hoping for the very best for each of them.

The writing is mostly prose, poetic and flowing. It was certainly easy to envision myself as part of the story. A scene near the beginning that I really became drawn into was a vision Maggie had of a long ago battle on the grounds of an old fort site she was visiting. The description was so vivid that I could hear the thunder of hooves and the clash of swords and see the frenzy of said battle raging around me.

The author, Nasir Shansab, is native Afghani, and I enjoyed the cultural quirks and customs written into Silent Trees. He lived through the historical events portrayed in the book, if not the actual fiction story itself. I cannot imagine going through such. I pray I never need know. ( )
  PardaMustang | Aug 21, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0910155933, Hardcover)

It s the winter of 1978 in Kabul and all seems quiet.

Habib Dil is a member of the privileged elite of Afghanistan. As the head of the powerful manufacturing concern, he has wealth, education, opportunities to travel, and a family history that gives him tremendous prestige. Yet Dil is aloof, unable or unwilling to accept the notion that malfeasance and exploitation are prerequisites to fully joining the ruling class.

Despite his efforts to avoid entangling himself in government business, he has brought a complication upon himself. He is having an affair with Miriam, the daughter of the ruthless Prime Minister Khan. Dil believes it is a secret, but worries they will one day be discovered.

One morning, he learns that his assistant has been arrested at the central depot while negotiating for the purchase of supplies. Dil is compelled to personally arrange his assistant s release, but doing so requires him to navigate through the unwieldy bureaucracy he has consciously avoided. For Dil it is a loathsome task.

He thinks of seeking help from his close childhood friend, Alam Gol, now a Colonel in the Army. Gol s path has led him to seek the kind of power and influence that Dil rejects.

Dil does not know that his friend is on a mission assigned to him by the prime minister himself, who seeks even greater power over the nation. If successful, it will solidify Gol s influence in the Government. But at the same time, Gol s actions may inadvertently put into action events that could ruin or even destroy Dil.

Dil begins to realize that perhaps it is time for a new life in a different place, but the pull of his native land keeps a powerful hold. Can he let go? And if he can, will he have time to leave before it is too late?

This is an Afghanistan that few Americans ever experienced. Silent Trees offers a rare glimpse at the country before the freedom fighters known as the Mujahideen, before the Taliban and the Warlords, and even before the Soviet invasion. Although the story is fictional, it is remarkable in its accurate portrayal of the Afghan people of all types--and its provocative exploration of larger, universal truths about the consequences that accompany unchecked pursuit of power.

In Silent Trees, Habib Dil will learn as we all must-- that when a select few ruthlessly control a people, everyone is corrupted the street vendor and the politician alike-- and suffers profoundly from the absence of liberty.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:34 -0400)

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