A sharp and arresting people's-eye view of real life in Afghanistan after the Taliban
Soon after the bombing of Kabul ceased, award-winning journalist and women's rights activist Ann Jones set out for the shattered city, determined to bring help where her country had brought destruction.
Here is her trenchant report from inside a city struggling to rise from the ruins. Working among the multitude of impoverished war widows, retraining Kabul's long-silenced English teachers, and investigating the city's prison for women, Jones enters a large community of female outcasts: runaway child brides, pariah prostitutes, cast-off wives, victims of rape. In the streets and markets, she hears the Afghan view of the supposed benefits brought by the fall of the Taliban, and learns that regarding women as less than human is the norm, not the aberration of one conspicuously repressive regime. Jones confronts the ways in which Afghan education, culture, and politics have repeatedly been hijackedby Communists, Islamic fundamentalists, and the Western free marketeersalways with disastrous results. And she reveals, through small events, the big disjunctions: between U.S promises and performance, between the new "democracy" and the still-entrenched warlords, between what's boasted of and what is.
At once angry, profound, and starkly beautiful, Kabul in Winter brings alive the people and day-to-day life of a place whose future depends so much upon our own.
On the big picture, then, Ms. Jones offers a fairly predictable catalog of abuse. But as an observer and analyst of Afghan society, and of the multiple problems bedeviling it, she can be eloquent and persuasive. Above all, she is a compassionate voice for the plight of Afghan women, who, on her evidence, will have to make enormous strides to move from miserable to merely abject.