In My Father's Country

In My Father's Country

An Afghan Woman Defies Her Fate

eBook - 2012
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Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, at age three Saima Wahab watched while her father was arrested and taken from their home by the KGB.  She would never see him again. When she was fifteen an uncle who lived in Portland, Oregon brought her to America.  Having to learn an entire new language, she nonetheless graduated from high school in three years and went on to earn a bachelor's degree.  In 2004 she signed on with a defense contractor to work as an interpreter in Afghanistan, never realizing that she would blaze the trail for a new kind of diplomacy, earning the trust of both high-ranking U.S. army officials and Afghan warlords alike.           
 
When she arrived in Afghanistan in the winter of 2004, Saima was among the few college-educated female Pashto speakers in the entire country. She was stunned to learn how little U.S. and coalition forces knew about the Pashtun, who comprise 40% of the population and from whom the Taliban arose. The blessing of the Pashtun is essential, but the U.S. army was so unaware of the workings of this ancient, proud, insular ethic group, that they would routinely send Farsi interpreters into Pashtun villages.  As a Pashtun-born American citizen, Saima found herself in an extraordinary position--to be able to explain the people of her native land to those of her adopted one, and vice versa, in a quest to forge new and lasting bonds between two misunderstood cultures.
 
In My Father's Country follows her amazing transformation from child refugee to nervous Pashtun interpreter to intrepid "human terrain" specialist, venturing with her twenty-five-soldier force pro-tection into isolated Pashtun villages to engage hostile village elders in the first, very frank dialogue they had ever had with the Americans.

From her posting at the forward operating base Farah in Afghanistan's blistering western frontier to the year she spent in Jalalabad translating for provincial governor "Hollywood Pashtun" Sherzai to the near-suicide missions of a year and a half in the Khost Province, where before every mission, she left instructions on how to dispose of her belongings, having to face the very real possibility of not coming back alive, Saima Wahab's is an incomparable story of one young woman's unwavering courage and undaunted spirit.


 
 


From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: [New York] : Crown, 2012.
ISBN: 9780307884961
Branch Call Number: E-BOOK
Characteristics: 1 electronic text.
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

Opinion

From Library Staff

Wahab was just three years old when her father was taken from her family home in Kabul, Afghanistan, by the KGB. After fleeing Afghanistan for Pakistan, Wahab was sent to live with family in the USA. After college, Wahab became an interpreter for American forces in Afghanistan. As one of the mili... Read More »

Wahab was just three years old when her father was taken from her family home in Kabul, Afghanistan, by the KGB. After fleeing Afghanistan for Pakistan, Wahab was sent to live with family in the USA. After college, Wahab became an interpreter for American forces in Afghanistan. As one of the mil... Read More »


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celynch Apr 17, 2013

Very interesting subject matter but I found the writing to be mind-numbing and perspective incredibly biased. Could have used some very heavy editing to let the cultural differences and fascinating stories shine (simply deleting the redundant phrase "I knew" from everywhere it appears in the book would shorten it by about a quarter). Worth a read but I kept wishing that it was better.

VanessaCCL Oct 16, 2012

"Describes how years after her father was taken away from her family by the KGB, the Afghanistani author relocated to her uncle's home in America, where she pursued an education and worked as an interpreter before becoming a cultural adviser for the U.S. Army." From Next Reads Biography & Memoir October 2012 newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=559052

VanessaCCL Oct 16, 2012

"Describes how years after her father was taken away from her family by the KGB, the Afghanistani author relocated to her uncle's home in America, where she pursued an education and worked as an interpreter before becoming a cultural adviser for the U.S. Army." From Next Reads Biography & Memoir October 2012 newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=559052

i
ididarodkid
Sep 23, 2012

The value of this book is to understand the extremes of differences in American and Afghanistan cultures. We are such a relatively 'new' country, embracing many different cultures, and assimilating them into our own. What is hard to visualize is cultures that extend back hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. This book is a testimonial to one persons journey into that abyss. With her observations we are able to see how our government failed to understand the mid East complexity of tribes and traditions. The author brings home the torment of respecting and being brought up in one culture, but also seeing the limitations and ultimately the benefits of another. This dilemma is heightened by her attempt to find the common bridge between the two in order to bring understanding. This, often challenging her personality that defies some of the cultural requirements of her Pashtun heritage. For the value of better understanding, this book is a worthy read.

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