SPIRIT OF SCOTLAND AWARD
ROYAL SOCIETY OF LITERATURE ONDAATJE AWARD
PREMIO DE LITERATURA DE VIAJE CAMINOS DEL CID
‘A flat-out masterpiece’. Tom Bissell, The New York Times
In January 2002, Rory 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 Rory 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 honour of Afghanistan’s first Mughal emperor, in whose footsteps the pair were following.
Through these encounters – by turns touching, confounding, surprising, and funny – Rory makes tangible the forces of tradition, ideology, and allegiance that shape life in the map’s countless places in between.
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