As we enter the eighth year of the latest Afghan campaign (longer than either world war), any information and insight is welcome. Reading this memoir of a young, upper-class Afghan, our uncertainty about how to think about Afghanistan will only increase. That is because Masood Farivar himself has passed through many times and lives. If Farivar has changed so much, I don’t feel bad about my own confusion.
For the first thirty pages or so we get a potted history of Farivar’s illustrious and learned lineage, and a sketch of his immediate family. His father, a stern, Westernised but patriotic Afghan, whose religious beliefs were tepid, had attended a science school in Kabul founded – amazingly