Kindle in Kandahar
As you should be able to make out from the photo, Kindle has come to Kandahar. I imagine there are are fair few being used by foreign military forces members at the PRT inside town and on KAF, the big military base miles outside town, but that doesn’t temper my excitement.
Since I last wrote, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, both on and off my Kindle. A series of writing jobs and small research projects has lead me to re-examine a lot of the 9-11 plot literature – from the 9-11 report to Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars to Larry Wright’s The Looming Tower. This has been a mostly pleasant experience.
Provoked by a review I had to write for a journal, I finally got round to reading Gilles Kepel’s last two books, The War for Muslim Minds and Beyond Terror and Martyrdom. I emerged after a few days considerably wiser about matters closer to home – Islamism in Europe – and very respectful of his patient scholarship.
I read several recent novels/memoirs recently, too: Omar Nasiri’s vivid and evocatively written Inside the Jihad, an account of time spent working as a double agent for the French intelligence services in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan during the 1990s, was both fast-paced and descriptively detailed; David Rieff’s memoir (Swimming in a Sea of Death) of the death of his mother, Susan Sontag, was pretty depressing, as you might expect, but cerebrally interesting in other ways.
The new Geoff Dyer, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasai, was the usual mix of slacker boredom and human encounters coupled with borderless travel tales. Strongly recommend its second half. Paul Torday’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was engagingly written, and a quaint story, but ultimately a little unsatisfying.
These days I’m busy with George Packer’s The Assassins’ Gate, a powerfully written account of the pre and post-2003 Iraq invasion that I’m enjoying so much I’ve decided to savour it slowly each day in the evening. Barry Cunliffe’s account of Europe BC 9000-AD 1000 is fascinating, mainly though as I know so little about this period; beautifully illustrated, it too is a pleasure to read. For poetry I’ve been dipping in and out of Bukowski’s You Get So Alone At Times, enjoying these initial moments of acquaintance with a new poet.
And of course my Kindle allows me to subscribe to a moderate range of newspapers and magazines, so I’m keeping up with the New Yorker (weekly), the Times Literary Supplement (weekly), the Atlantic (monthly) and of course, every day after I run for an hour, the New York Times.
I hope to be blogging a little more regularly these days after this small hiatus. Watch this space for a reaction to the writings of Bruce Riedel, a roundup of what life in Kandahar is like these days, and a A-Z series of articles on local Kandahari culture…