After 9/11 and the American bombing of Afghanistan that followed, Ann Jones set out for the shattered city. As a volunteer working in humanitarian aid, she hoped to help pick up the pieces; but what she learned there compelled her to take up her pen.Here is her trenchant report from inside a city struggling to rise from the ruins. Jones works among the multitude of impoverished war widows, and she helps to retrain the city’s tongue-tied high school English teachers, many of them women just emerging from the Taliban’s long confinement. Working in the city’s prisons for women, Jones enters a world of female outcasts: runaway girls, child brides, pariah prostitutes, cast-off wives, victims of rape. In the streets and markets, she hears Afghan views of the supposed benefits brought by the fall of the Taliban, and learns that keeping women under tight control is the norm and not the aberration of one conspicuously repressive regime. Jones unravels Afghanistan’s complicated history as proxy playground for greater powers and confronts the ways in which Afghan education, culture, and politics have repeatedly been hijacked — by Communists, Islamist extremists, and Western free marketeers — always with disastrous results. And she reveals, through small events, the big disjunctions: between US promises and performance, between the new "democracy" and the still-entrenched warlords, between what’s boasted of and what is. Kabul in Winter brings alive the people and day-to-day life of a place whose future depends upon our own.
Praise for Kabul in Winter:
"We meet many remarkable people in this angry, eloquent book, but none more remarkable than Jones herself." —Harper's magazine
"A potent and disturbing new book . . . Jones examines the dire situation of women in postwar Afghanistan. Jones, who spent much time in Kabul's women's prisons and schools, witnessed firsthand the effects of stunning physical and psychological abuse; the result is a book which stirred in me such uncomfortable emotions that I read it with an ever-tightening knot in my stomach and a hand flying regularly upward to cover my horrified mouth . . . Jones quotes a phrase that battered women's shelters used in the seventies as a kind of rallying cry: 'World peace begins at home.' That phrase now strikes me as urgently true." —Rosemary Mahoney, O, The Oprah Magazine
"Jones, a keen observer, captures her surroundings in crisp vignettes, some appalling, others quite comic. . . Kabul in Winter is . . . a work of impassioned reportage, a sympathetic observer’s damage assessment of a country torn apart . . . eloquent and persuasive." —The New York Times
A "sharply observed, frequently lyrical memoir..." —The Washington Post
"...I felt a desire to thank Jones for shining a flashlight on a corner of human experience still so shrouded in shadow." —The Christian Science Monitor
A "fascinating volume. Jones’s sharp eye and quick wit enable vivid writing.” —Publisher’s Weekly