- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1722 KB
- Print Length: 448 pages
- Publisher: 4th Estate (17 March 2010)
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers (AU)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003CQIB1E
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews:
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #277,376 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Carpet Wars Kindle Edition
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From the Back Cover
A fascination with carpets leads Christopher Kremmer to roam the troubled lands where they originate. He encounters a marvellous cast of people, from Iranian carpet salesmen to houseboat owners in Kashmir, displaced Afghan nomads to sometimes shady merchants of the bazaar, as well as political and religious leaders who have become household names.
In the remote Hindu Kush, Kremmer celebrates 'Eid' with the late Afghan guerrilla legend, Ahmad Shah Massoud; he meets the fearsome Uzbek warlord Abdul Rashid Dostrum in his fortress headquarters outside Mazar-e-Sharif, and in Kandahar, takes tea with Taliban leaders, and goes hunting for Osama bin Laden. What he finds are Muslim nations hanging by a thread, their people betrayed by despotic leaders, and economies kept afloat by little more than rugs, drugs and oil.
'The Carpet Wars' is an intimate and compelling portrait of one of the most ancient and misunderstood parts of the world, and an impassioned plea for breaking down the barriers of ignorance that separate it from the West.
About the Author
Born in Sydney in 1958, Christopher Kremmer has spent the past decade exploring Asia nad writing about it for print and broadcast media. His award-winning first book, Stalking the Elephant Kings, unearthed the skeletons of communist rule in Indochina. He lives in Sydney.
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Top international reviews
The Carpet Wars is a piece of travel writing that stands out from the vast canon of travel writing literature out there, namely the fascinating connection between carpet weaving countries, and the conflicts they have been scarred by.
The book was released in early 2002, with 911 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan a very recent memory. As such, one would immediatly assume that this book may have been marketing toward the new obsession with Afghanistan, Al Qa'eda and all the negative elements of the Middle East.
To say the least, both assumptions are wrong. The release was purely coincidence. The author had spent 10 years traveling throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, and collecting carpets. So while the release and marketing may have suited the 911 environment, the research and compilation of the book was purely coincidental. No one gets a 10 year head start on the post 911 world, and not even the most ardent conspiracy theorist would believe that.
Secondly, there is little negative in this book. Yes it does detail and reflect the trauma exisiting in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kashmir and various other places, but it most certainly does not read like the latest Daily Mail or Daily Express expose on the harshness of Shariah law, and how it is coming your way.
The book has a very human and sentimental feel. It is not told from some haughty position of cultural superiority, rather it is told in an empathetic way, recounting the stories of the people on the ground, providing feeling for their way of life, and showing a real human touch.
Carpet Wars is not only an informative and culturally insightful book, it is also a heartfelt book, a sentimental and nostalgic piece of work that speaks from the heart.
So often travel literature-type books by westerners in these kinds of far-off places can be either too clever, cynical or condescending at one end of the scale, or, at the other end too reverent, with a reverence that seems to really be an I-hate-where-I-am-from complex. Both extremes can get tiring pretty quickly.
The Carpet Wars was exactly in the middle, and it was fascinating. It was extremely informative about the history, politics, religion and, yes, even the carpets of the region from Pakistan to Iran. Carpets were merely the thread (so to speak) that held the several first-hand accounts of travels to the region.
Kremmer is a master story teller, and very funny. Sometimes it was hard to tell what was more enjoyable, the story he was telling or the way he was telling it.
His accounts of places with which he is very familiar are told in the rich tones of a deep affection. When he is in a new place, like Isfahan, the account is in the vivid colors of someone seeing something for the first time, creating some of the best travel essays I have ever read. Seven weeks ago, Isfahan was just an exotic name to me, now it's at the top of places I hope I can see before I die.
Its hard to say what recommends this book more, the fact that it is throughly enjoyable, or deeply infomrative.
I haven't read Mr. Kremmer's book about Laos, but it is probably pretty good. Books like The Carpet Wars don't stick with you so long by accident.
The author uses great words to describe what he sees. He uses a very colorful and telling narrative that pulls you along with his story. I recommend this book to the casual reader interested in different cultures, anybody interested in a first hand look at the carpet trade, and any one in the military who would be interested in getting a new perspective at the culture we are currently protecting and the enemy we are currently fighting.
A careful reader will note that the author's tone and descriptions of Tajikistan and Dushanbe are not nearly as detailed (or romanticized) as the chapters devoted to Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, he portrays Tajiks as drunken, gambling clowns. I am embarrassed for my Tajik friends who live in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
There was also a brief mention about the origin of some silver trinkets the author saw for sale in Iraq. A vendor told a BBC journalist that the silver items belonged to Iraqi Jews. The author goes on to discuss how Zionists, with the help of an agent, convinced Iraq to let Iraqi Jews move to Israel. The author, by putting quotes around the words "rescue operation" to describe the Iraqi Jewish exodus from Iraq, is implying that the 150,000 Jews who were in Iraq were never in danger. If the author wants to discuss these issues he should be fair and impartial. It is common knowledge that the Jews who fled Iraq and other Arab lands in the 1950s were forced to sell their property and assets at ridiculously low prices. The author could have mentioned this which is common knowledge to anyone interested in the history of the region, rather than calling into doubt the reason why the Jews of Iraq fled to Israel in the 1950s. An event that made many Arabs outside Palestine very rich.
The brief stories about carpet buying are very interesting. The author should stick to these encounters.