Recent Reading

Recently read Khaled Hosseni, both “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns”. Both powerful stories of recent Afghan history, across three family generations, across the Russian occupation and the Taliban (and refuge / emigration in Pakistan and USA). The former already well known as a film (which I’ve not seen). The latter even more powerful, conveying the deadening oppression of women in particular, but somehow undermined by slightly too “Hollywood” dramatic timings of key events. Good writing, recommended reading.

(I have a particular interest, having worked for two periods in Baluchistan, Pakistan, near the Afghan border just after the Russians had departed, and Kalashnikov’s appeared to be compulsory fashion accessories amongst the locals.)

Between the two, by way of light relief, I read John Le Carre’s latest (2008) “A Most Wanted Man”. I have mixed experience of Le Carre, but this was very good. Very much “of our time” mix of international banking, 9/11 Hamburg connections, US/European politics, ex-Soviet Moslem terror and the war on funding. Who needs any conspiracy when life’s motivations are this complicated ?

Perhaps prompted by Arabic / Moslem / geographic / tribal / linguistic distinctions of these modern reads, I felt compelled to pick up T E Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” for a fourth or fifth read. Gets even better with every read in each different light. Beautiful witty prose as well as a razor sharp study of people, peoples and places – physically and psychologically. An “agile” management textbook in a wartime historical narrative. Unsurpassable, and I’m only a little over a third of the way through, though hooked to a finish, again.

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