Waiting for the Taliban: A Journey Through North Afghanistan


Anna Badkhen - 2010
    Blighted, hopeless, still unspeakably beautiful but now overrun by the Taliban, the region is a different place entirely than the one she first encountered. Traveling from village to village, she comes to understand what went so terribly wrong in the North—and, by extension, what is going so terribly wrong in Afghanistan in general. In her dispatches, which she calls “part diary entries, part love letters from a land that stole my heart,” she offers one of the most heartbreaking, lyrical portrayals ever of Afghanistan—and a powerful warning to those seeking to force the country into a bright new future.Format Note: Available for the first time as a collection, Badkhen’s dispatches span three weeks of daily coverage to create a short-form e-book.

First, They Erased Our Name: a Rohingya speaks


Habiburahman - 2019
    I am already an outlaw in my own country, an outlaw in the world. I am three years old, and I don’t yet know that I am stateless.’Habiburahman was born in 1979 and raised in a small village in western Burma. When he was three years old, the country’s military leader declared that his people, the Rohingya, were not one of the 135 recognised ethnic groups that formed the eight ‘national races’. He was left stateless in his own country.Since 1982, millions of Rohingya have had to flee their homes as a result of extreme prejudice and persecution. In 2016 and 2017, the government intensified the process of ethnic cleansing, and over 600,000 Rohingya people were forced to cross the border into Bangladesh.Here, for the first time, a Rohingya speaks up to expose the truth behind this global humanitarian crisis. Through the eyes of a child, we learn about the historic persecution of the Rohingya people and witness the violence Habiburahman endured throughout his life until he escaped the country in 2000.First, They Erased Our Name is an urgent, moving memoir about what it feels like to be repressed in one’s own country and a refugee in others. It gives voice to the voiceless.

Rabbit Stew and a Penny or Two: A Gypsy Family's Hard Times and Happy Times on the Road in the 1950s


Maggie Smith-Bendell - 2009
    As a child, Maggie rode and slept in a horse-drawn wagon, picked hops and flowers, and sat beside her father's campfire on ancient verges, poor but free to roam. As the twentieth century progressed, common land was fenced off and the traditional Gypsy ways disappeared. Eventually Maggie married a house-dweller and tried to settle for bricks and mortar, but she never lost the restless spirit, the deep love of the land and the gift for storytelling that were her Romani inheritance. Maggie's story is one of hardship and prejudice, but also, unforgettably, it recalls the glories of the travelling life in the absolute safety of a loyal and loving family.

A Team of Their Own: How an International Sisterhood Made Olympic History


Seth Berkman - 2019
    Against all odds, the group of young women were able to bring North and South Korea closer than ever before.The team was built for this moment. They had been brought together from across the globe and from a wide variety of backgrounds - concert pianist, actress, high school student, convenience store worker - to make history. Now the special kinship they had developed would guide them through the biggest challenge of their careers. Suddenly thrust into an international spotlight, they showed the powerful meaning of what a unified Korea could resemble.In this book, Seth Berkman goes behind the scenes to tell the story of these young women as they became a team amid immense political pressure and personal turmoil, and ultimately gained worldwide acceptance on a journey that encapsulates the truest meanings of sport and family.

Gray Work: Confessions of an American Paramilitary Spy


Jamie Smith - 2014
    This is a fascinating tale-and potentially the first-to describe the work of American contractors, men who run highly dangerous missions deep inside foreign countries on the brink of war. It will lift the veil and detail the ultimate danger and risk of paramilitary operations (both officially government-sanctioned and not) and show us in very intimate terms exactly what private soldiers do when the government can't act or take public responsibility. GRAY WORK combines covert military intelligence with boots-on-the-ground realism, following Jamie Smith through his CIA training and work as a spy in the State Department, to his co-founding of Blackwater following 9/11, to his decision to leave that company. As the founder and director of Blackwater Security, Smith's initial vision has undeniably shaped and transformed a decade of war. He argues that this gray area-and its warriors who occupy the controversial space between public and private-has become an indispensable element of the modern battlefield.

The Naked Tourist: In Search of Adventure and Beauty in the Age of the Airport Mall


Lawrence Osborne - 2006
    He took a six-month journey across the so-called Asian Highway--a swathe of Southeast Asia that, since the Victorian era, has seduced generations of tourists with its manufactured dreams of the exotic Orient. And like many a lost soul on this same route, he ended up in the harrowing forests of Papua, searching for a people who have never seen a tourist. What, Osborne asks, are millions of affluent itinerants looking for in these endless resorts, hotels, cosmetic-surgery packages, spas, spiritual retreats, sex clubs, and "back to nature" trips? What does tourism, the world's single largest business, have to sell? A travelogue into that heart of darkness known as the Westernmind, "The Naked Tourist "is the most mordant and ambitious work to date from the author of "The Accidental Connoisseu r," praised by "The New York Times Book Review "as "smart, generous, perceptive, funny, sensible."

In a Time of Monsters: Travels Through a Middle East in Revolt


Emma Sky - 2019
    She soon found herself back in the Middle East traveling through a region in revolt. In a Time of Monsters bears witness to the demands of young people for dignity and justice during the Arab Spring; the inability of sclerotic regimes to reform; the descent of Syria into civil war; the rise of the Islamic State; and the flight of refugees to Europe. With deep empathy for its people and an extensive understanding of the Middle East, Sky makes a complex region more comprehensible. A great storyteller and observational writer, Sky also reveals the ties that bind the Middle East to the West and how blowback from the West's interventions in the region contributed to the British vote to leave the European Union and to the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.

The American Home Front: 1941-1942


Alistair Cooke - 2006
    He was one of the most widely read and widely heard chroniclers of America—the Twentieth Century’s de Tocqueville. Cooke died in 2004, but shortly before he passed away a long-forgotten manuscript resurfaced in a closet in his New York apartment. It was a travelogue of America during the early days of World War II that had sat there for sixty years. Published to stellar reviews in 2006, though “somewhat past deadline,” Cooke’s The American Home Front is a “valentine to his adopted country by someone who loved it as well as anyone and knew it better than most” (The Plain Dealer [Cleveland]). It is a unique artifact and a historical gem, “an unexpected and welcome discover in a time capsule.” (Washington Post) A portrait frozen in time, the book offers a charming look at the war through small towns, big cities, and the American landscape as they once were. The American Home Front is also a brilliant piece of reportage, a historical gem that “affirms Cooke’s enduring place as a great twentieth-century reporter” (American Heritage).

The Wind Blows Away Our Words


Doris Lessing - 1987
    a lament for the soviet invasion of afghanistan

Comrades and Strangers: Behind the Closed Doors of North Korea


Michael Harrold - 2004
    For seven years he lived in Pyongyang enjoying privileged access to the ruling classes and enjoying the confidence of the country's young elite. In this fascinating insight into the culture of North Korea he describes the hospitality of his hosts, how they were shaken by the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and many of the fascinating characters he met from South Korean and American GI defectors to his Korean minder and socialite friends. After seven years and having been caught passing South Korean music tapes to friends and going out without his minder to places forbidden to foreigners, he was asked to leave the country.

The Lost Pianos of Siberia


Sophy Roberts - 2020
    Yet there is another tale to tell.Dotted throughout this remote land are pianos — grand instruments created during the boom years of the nineteenth century, as well as humble, Soviet-made uprights that found their way into equally modest homes. They tell the story of how, ever since entering Russian culture under the westernizing influence of Catherine the Great, piano music has run through the country like blood.How these pianos travelled into this snow-bound wilderness in the first place is testament to noble acts of fortitude by governors, adventurers, and exiles. Siberian pianos have accomplished extraordinary feats, from the instrument that Maria Volkonsky, wife of an exiled Decemberist revolutionary, used to spread music east of the Urals, to those that brought reprieve to the Soviet Gulag. That these instruments might still exist in such a hostile landscape is remarkable. That they are still capable of making music in far-flung villages is nothing less than a miracle.The Lost Pianos of Siberia is largely a story of music in this fascinating place, following Roberts on a three-year adventure as she tracks a number of different instruments to find one whose history is definitively Siberian. Her journey reveals a desolate land inhabited by wild tigers and deeply shaped by its dark history, yet one that is also profoundly beautiful — and peppered with pianos.

Don't Forget to Write: The true story of an evacuee and her family


Pam Hobbs - 2009
    As we reached the corner of Kent Avenue, I looked back for one last wave. But Mum had buried her head in her pinny and it was a year before I saw her again.'In June 1940, 10-year-old Pam Hobbs and her sister Iris took the long journey from their council home in Leigh-on-Sea to faraway rural Derbyshire.Living away from Mum and Dad for two long years, Pam was moved between four foster homes. In some she and Iris found a second family, with babies to look after, car rides and picnics, and even a pet pig. But other billets took a more sinister turn, as the adults found it easy to exploit the children in their care.Returning to Essex, things would never be the same again, and the war was far from over. Making do with rations, dodging bombs and helping with the war effort, Pam and her family struggled to get by.In Don't Forget to Write, with warmth and vivid detail, Pam describes a time that was full of overwhelming hardship and devastation; yet also of kindness and humour, resilience and courage.

Bamboo Palace: Discovering the Lost Dynasty of Laos


Christopher Kremmer - 2003
    twenty years after the Indochina wars, Christopher Kremmer visited Laos - at the crossroads of change in Southeast Asia. He started his journey in the tranquillity of Luang Prabang, once the royal capital. But despite its ancient culture and stately airs, the town - like Laos itself - is a place of secrets, mysteries and nagging questions. Setting off in search of the lost royal family, a 600-year-old dynasty consumed by the violent troubles of the 1960s and 1970s, the author reveals a small land-locked corner of Asia struggling to come to terms with the legacies of the American war and Asian communism. this is travel with a mission and it takes the autor deep into Laos - to the bomb craters and enigmatic stone containers of the Plain of Jars, the brooding caves and limestone peaks of Houaphan near the Lao border with Vietnam, and the southern provinces bordering Cambodia. Stalking the Elephant Kings tells the story of a Southeast Asian revolution and its tragic consequences.

Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind


Carol Hollinger - 1965
    A brilliant observer of customs, manners, and cultural differences, she writes frankly and unsparingly of herself and her fellow Americans, and relates both the fun and frustration of communicating with the Thai people - without being coy or condescending. Although written over 30 years ago, Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind is as entertaining now as it was when first published, and remains equally relevant - with its honest and lively anecdotes of this exotic country and its people, and the difficulties and delights foreigners have in adjusting to life in a completely new environment.

Vietnam, Now: A Reporter Returns


David Lamb - 1990
    This was a new country; in Vietnam, Now, David Lamb brings it--and us--forward from its dark, distant past. From the myriad personalities entwined in the dark, distant history of the war to those focused toward the future, Lamb reveals a rich and culturally diverse people as they share their memories of the country's past, and their hopes for a peacetime future. A portrait of a beautiful country and a remarkable, determined people, Vietnam, Now is a personal journey that will change the way we think of Vietnam, and perhaps the war as well.