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November 21 , 2010

Dispatches from the Kabul Café


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In 2007, Canadian journalist Heidi Kingstone arrived in Kabul, eager to uncover the mysteries and shadows of one turbulent corner of the world.  Over the next four years, she encountered idealists and chancers, gunrunners and warlords.  She interviewed generals and partied with powerbrokers and fashionistas.  A passionate advocate for women’s rights, she witnessed women as heroes, as victims, as freeloaders, as rivals.

Heidi’s account of the last years of ISAF-controlled Kabul is vividly atmospheric, deeply personal and at times shockingly painful.  From air bases to brothels, she tells of disastrous development programs and hopeful couplings against the backdrop of our longest war.  But as her friends fall victim to ambush, kidnap and suicide bombing, no amount of booze and adrenalin can soften the devastating realities of NATO’s new Afghanistan.


“This wonderful cocktail of images and impressions is far more than the sum of its parts.  For it offers a deep draught of the awful excitement of living on the edge of somebody else’s war.  An experience that no Westerner in Afghanistan would want to have missed, or to repeat.”  Sherard Cowper-Coles, former British ambassador to Afghanistan

"Heidi is sharp, funny, utterly irreverent, often poignant and always entertaining"  Kate Fox, author of Watching the English

"Detailed, insightful, complex stories about how surreal life can be for women in the heart of central Asia, under the overlapping influences of medieval jihad and 21st-century moneyed Western do-goodism"  Jonathan Kay, National Post

"This is a letter from the deeply bizarre world of the 'internationals', the people who gave us the disaster that is Afghanistan and who will soon move on to a disaster zone near you.  Kingstone brings us into the heart of this world of misfits, creeps, rich dilettantes as well as the occasional  genuine humanitarian.  If you want to know what went so badly wrong in Afghanistan, read this book." Frank Ledwidge, author of Losing Small Wars

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