I have been interested to the subject of the Middle East for most of my life, whether for religious, cultural or political reasons. Sometimes I think I understand facets of this complicated region, and other times I am completely bewildered. My current employment has made the Middle East a more frequent topic of discussion, and I have been reaching for a better understanding of the cultures and attitudes of this important region. To this end, I have been listening to audio books by a variety of authors on numerous related subjects, and I’d like to offer my viewpoint on a few of these for your consideration.
Of the multiple authors and subjects I’ve explored recently, one author stands out for me. Tamim Ansary is an Afghan American born into the upper levels of the Afghan society where he lived until emigrating to the US in 1964 at age 16. Ansary now lives in San Francisco where he is an author, teacher, editor, and lecturer.
I’ve found Ansary’s books very enlightening due to their balanced and insightful narratives about Afghanistan, Muslim culture, and world history in the Middle East. I’ve read three of his books, which I recommend for your edification. (if you listen to the audio versions, which are narrated by the author himself, it is especially helpful to listen to the correct pronunciation of names and words.)
- West of Kabul, East of New York. Macmillan. 2003. ISBN 978-0-312-42151-9.
This book offers a personal history of growing up in Afghanistan and subsequently living in the US, portraying the impact of recent cultural styles and events on one individual life.
- Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes. Basic Civitas Books. 2009. ISBN 978-1-58648-606-8.
This is an enlightening review of history from a Muslim/Arab perspective.
- Games Without Rules: the Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan. Public Affairs. 2012. ISBN 978-1610390941.
This is an eye-opening study of the wars and cultural interactions that have shaped Afghan history, including present day events up to 9-11 and the hunt for Bin Laden.
- The Widow’s Husband. Numina Press. 2009. ISBN 978-0-9753615-0-4.
This book portrays the nineteenth century British invasion of Afghanistan.
Ansary has authored a number of other books on a variety of subjects (e.g. American Indian tribes, Holidays, etc.) which can be found in the usual places.