Just like in the "Kite Runner", the focus of this book is on Afghanistan. It tells the story of two women - Mariam and Laila, and their lives in Afghanistan from the 60s to 2003, living through the country's violent shifts from monarchy to a communist republic, the war with the Soviet Union, the rule of the various Mujahedeen factions, the civil war, the rule of the Taliban, and finally a reinstated democratic government after the post-9/11 war with the US. Khaled Hosseini writes beautifully, and in this book spends a lot of time on showing the lives of women in Afghanistan, especially in the hardest years of the devout Muslim rulers which reduced the status of womens to somewhere between small children and dogs. If life in the country in those days was extremely hard, the life of women was much harder. I like books like this, that give a close perspective on the situation of some place I didn't know much about. Americans who were convinced after 9/11 that the whole population of Afghanistan is a bunch of west-hating-crazy-muslim-fanatics, may gain something by reading this book and get a glimpse into the lives of the "common people", 95% of the population, who just want to live in peace, have enough food and a roof over their and their children's heads. Perhaps we here could learn something from it, too.

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