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The Places In Between (2004)

by Rory Stewart

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,413766,198 (3.85)101
In January 2002 Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan--surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. By day he passed through mountains covered in nine feet of snow, hamlets burned and emptied by the Taliban, and communities thriving amid the remains of medieval civilizations. By night he slept on villagers' floors, shared their meals, and listened to their stories of the recent and ancient past. Along the way he met heroes and rogues, tribal elders and teenage soldiers, Taliban commanders and foreign-aid workers. He was also adopted by an unexpected companion--a retired fighting mastiff he named Babur in honor of Afghanistan's first Mughal emperor, in whose footsteps the pair was following. Through these encounters--by turns touching, confounding, surprising, and funny--Stewart makes tangible the forces of tradition, ideology, and allegiance that shape life in the map's countless places in between.--From publisher description.… (more)
  1. 10
    A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby (Othemts)
  2. 11
    Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson (cransell)
    cransell: Mortenson's story heads in a different direction than Stewart's, but the are both memoirs dealing with the same region and the affect their experiences had on them.
  3. 00
    The Roads to Sata by Alan Booth (Othemts)
  4. 00
    Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy (Othemts)
  5. 00
    The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron (rakerman)
    rakerman: Both The Road to Oxiana and The Places In Between are very personal explorations of the people and the places encountered. Oxiana covers travels in Persia and Afghanistan in 1933, while The Places In Between is a walk across Afghanistan in 2002. Both writers are keen observers of a region little-known to most of the west.… (more)
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» See also 101 mentions

English (73)  Dutch (4)  All languages (77)
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
Not sure why he did this. Escaping from something? Just last night upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. I wish, I wish he’d go away. ( )
  mnicol | Jan 14, 2024 |
Loved this book. Such an insightful look at this society we are so at odds with. I loved his matter-of-fact descriptions of situations that must have been terrifying. ( )
  BBrookes | Dec 6, 2023 |
I came to this book after Rory Stewart’s high-profile campaign in the Conservative Party leadership race. I am not normally one for travel books but was very impressed. It is beautifully written & observed and gives the reader a feeling for the history and complexity of the country. Contrary to some other reviews, I thought the author showed a great deal of respect to the people and their cultures. An impressive achievement and highly recommended.

(It is a reminder of how some of the development objectives for the post-invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 - security, democracy, women’s rights etc. - were so ambitious as to be almost fantasy.) ( )
  JamieStarr | Jul 15, 2023 |
A wonderful addition to the travel genre, this book sees Rory Stewart travel on foot across the northern reaches of Afghanistan. The epilogue demonstrates how important it is to see things first hand - Rory is able to add context to world events, but more crucially, he details how seeing Afghanistan changed his whole life. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Jan 20, 2023 |
Excellent book, takes you places you'd never imagine and describes them beautifully. The Special Forces opinion on Stewart is one I can certainly ascribe to as one can't imagine actually doing what he did in this book, but I'm glad he did - for what he was able to do thereafter as much at to allow him to write this. ( )
  expatscot | Dec 28, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 73 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
The country is quite covered by darkness, so that people outside it cannot see anything in it; and no one dares go in for fear of the darkness.  Nevertheless men who live in the country round about say that they can sometimes hear the voices of men, and horses neighing, and cocks crowing, and thereby that some kind of folks live there, but they do not know what kind of folk they are.  - The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, c.1360, Chapter 28
Dedication
This book is dedicated to the people of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal, who showed me the way, fed me, protected me, housed me and made this walk possible.  They were not all saints, though some of them were.  A number were greedy, idle, stupid, hypocritical, insensitive, mendacious, ignorant and cruel.  Some of them had robbed or killed others; many of them threatened me and begged from me.  But never in twenty-one months of travel did they attempt to kidnap or kill me.  I was alone and a stranger, walking in very remote areas; I represented a cluture that many of them hated and I was carrying enough money to save or at least transform their lives.  In more than five hundred village houses, I was indulged, fed, nursed, and protected by people poorer, hungrier, sicker and more vulnerable than myself.  Almost every group I met: Sunni Kurds, Shia Hazara, Punjabi Christians, Sikhs, Brahmins of Kedarnath, Garwhal Dalits and Newari Buddhists, gave me hospitality without any though of reward.  I owe this journey and my life to them.
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I watched two men enter the lobby of the Hotel Mowafaq.
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Wikipedia in English (4)

In January 2002 Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan--surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. By day he passed through mountains covered in nine feet of snow, hamlets burned and emptied by the Taliban, and communities thriving amid the remains of medieval civilizations. By night he slept on villagers' floors, shared their meals, and listened to their stories of the recent and ancient past. Along the way he met heroes and rogues, tribal elders and teenage soldiers, Taliban commanders and foreign-aid workers. He was also adopted by an unexpected companion--a retired fighting mastiff he named Babur in honor of Afghanistan's first Mughal emperor, in whose footsteps the pair was following. Through these encounters--by turns touching, confounding, surprising, and funny--Stewart makes tangible the forces of tradition, ideology, and allegiance that shape life in the map's countless places in between.--From publisher description.

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