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News Home Page News Digest Nation World Metro Business Washtech Sports Style Education Travel Health Home & Garden Opinion Weather Weekly Sections Classifieds Print Edition E-MAIL NEWSLETTERS | ARCHIVES SEARCH: Crossroads 'The Sewing Circles of Herat' by Christina Lamb, 'Veiled Threat' by Sally Armstrong, 'Doomed in Afghanistan' by Phillip Corwin Reviewed by Akbar S. Ahmed Sunday, December 22, 2002; Page BW12 THE SEWING CIRCLES OF HERAT A Personal Voyage Through Afghanistan By Christina Lamb HarperCollins. 338 pp. $24.95 VEILED THREAT The Hidden Power of the Women of Afghanistan By Sally Armstrong Four Walls Eight Windows. 208 pp. $24.95 (Forthcoming in January) DOOMED IN AFGHANISTAN A UN Officer's Memoir of the Fall of Kabul And Najibullah's Failed Escape, 1992 By Phillip Corwin Rutgers Univ. 241 pp. $28 Over the last two centuries, the story of Afghanistan can be read as the dramatic collapse of a tribal society under foreign invasion. Attacks by the British in the 19th century, playing their Great Game in the struggle for empire with Russia, and by the Soviets in the 1980s, devastated traditional structures and set power oscillating between weak, ineffective democratic governments and authoritarian military rule. Neighboring Pakistan has never hesitated to interfere in Afghan affairs. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, brought another catalyst for change into the region: the United States. In last year's Afghan campaign, the most powerful and highly industrialized society in the world fought one of the world's most tribal and impoverished countries. The shock of the encounter has still to wear off. Now, a year after the
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campaign, three authoritative new books tell us about the costs to Kabul of battling giants. Together, they help us piece together the contemporary Afghan odyssey. In The Sewing Circles of Herat , British journalist Christina Lamb takes us directly into the heart of Afghan and Pakistani society. It is territory she has explored before, both in newspaper articles and in her 1990 book Waiting for Allah , written after her first stint in the region, where she arrived fresh from taking her degree at Oxford. Lamb describes in
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